If you’re looking to fine-tune your performance and get your finish time down, a good running watch is your best friend. They’re useful tools, helping you plan your training and optimise your routine.
But running watches today are not just about tracking your run time and heart rate. Many are able to feed back key statistics about your run, allowing you to pour over the data, analyse your training readiness and identify your strengths and weaknesses.
Every running watch needs a good GPS, allowing you to track your runs, but they can provide data on resting heart rate and sleep, as well as helping you manage stress levels with mindfulness exercises.
There’s a lot to look out for, depending on just how much depth you want.
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Best running watches for women
Polar Ignite 2
This is a sleek-looking watch from Polar which, when fully charged, is said to be able to support a 20-hour battery life in training mode and 120 hours in watch mode.
That’s all while providing 24/7 activity tracking to feed back statistics for your daily activity goal.
In terms of training and fitness, Polar says the Ignite 2 will monitor total calories burned with a breakdown of macronutrients, as well as cardiovascular and muscular strain.
There’s also access to FitSpark, a personalised training guide with on-demand workouts.
Polar emphasises recovery with apps that track your quality of sleep and how well you’re recovering in the evenings. There’s also a guided breathing exercise to help you relax and manage stress.
For everyday alerts and functions, there are message notifications from your phone and you also have the ability to skip and play music via your preferred streaming app.
Garmin Forerunner 255S GPS
This watch from industry-giant Garmin packs an array of features into a small package, notching in at a feathery 39g.
This smaller version of the Forerunner 255 is capable of holding its charge for up to 12 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 26 hours in GPS mode (though you’ll get more from the larger version).
It gives you access to a full suite of Garmin’s advanced metrics and training tools, including everything from running power and dynamics to visual race predictors.
It can help you plan your strategy with workouts suggested daily, and there’s also a built-in triathlon-specific activity profile.
It can also double as a smartwatch for everyday life, allowing you to make contactless payments, check smartphone notifications and download widgets for a fully-customisable watch face.
Have a look at our full, in-depth review of the Garmin Forerunner 255s.
Garmin Fenix 7S
The Fenix 7s is a smaller version of one of Garmin’s latest models, the Fenix 7.
It provides GPS tracking for up to 37 hours, allowing you to track even the longest of routes. There’s also a navigation system to help you find your way.
It comes equipped with all of Garmin’s latest training features. Mentioning them all would constitute a full-blown essay, but a few standouts are a training readiness measurement and real-time stamina feedback to avoid overexerting yourself while training or competing.
You can even download music directly to the watch, so you don’t need to worry about bringing your phone with you when running.
Coros Pace 2
If you’re looking for a watch that doesn’t feel too bulky on your wrist, this super-lightweight watch from Coros weighs in at just 29g.
The battery is said to offer 20 days of standard use while you’ll get a claimed 30 hours of battery life in GPS mode.
As well as your standard heart rate and GPS tracking, you’ll also get data metrics such as cadence, stride length, pace and more.
Plus, Coros includes a personal training system with over 200 exercises, tracking calories burned throughout the movement and a heatmap of the muscle groups most active.
Track run mode also includes an algorithm to closely track your running history, whether around a track or cross-country.
See our Coros Pace 2 review for more.
Polar Vantage V2
Polar’s Vantage V2 features a battery life spanning seven days in smartwatch mode and up to 40 hours in GPS mode and comes with the full gamut of features.
For example, the GPS features a hill splitter to track uphill and downhill running with precision, providing an altitude profile to analyse your performance.
There are several advanced training metrics, including running and cycling performance tests, as well as a leg recovery test to ensure your legs are ready for training.
This is part of Polar’s focus on maintaining a balance between recovery and training – the training load and recovery metrics help see how sessions are causing strain and how you can tweak your routine to produce optimal performance and general quality of life.
The FitSpark training guide provides exercises and guidance daily, using data collected from your training history and fitness level.
There are also music controls, weather updates and phone notifications to keep you in touch through everyday life.
Garmin Forerunner 55
The Forerunner 55 aims to provide a top-quality Garmin watch without the hefty price tag.
It has a claimed battery life of up to two weeks in smartwatch mode and up to 20 hours in GPS mode. It’ll also suggest runs tailored to you and track your time, distance, and speed.
While it won’t track strength or multisport workouts, there’s access to an array of endurance metrics, including finish time, cadence alerts and Garmin coach, which provides guidance that adapts to your goals.
These sessions can be synced with the Garmin Connect app for feedback and training history.