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Best Running Watch (2022): Top Picks For Beginners, Men, Women & More

Choosing the best running watch can be challenging, given the plethora of options. From budget models to feature-packed devices, these rugged units come in every look and style. However, built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring are standard for these wearables. Where they may be worthy of your wrist comes down to what metrics tracked. If you’re just starting out with running or gearing for the next marathon, don’t fret. Below, we’ve narrowed down our picks of the top running watches to buy.

Best Running Watch Comparison Chart

ModelProduct ImagePrice
Coros Pace 2 
Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Polar M200
Garmin Forerunner 945
Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar
Fitbit Sense

Coros Pace 2

Best running watch for men

Best running watch for men
The Coros Pace 2 is flush with features that, at its core, are targeted at runners.

Although it’s one of the lightest running watches, the Coros Pace 2 is a heavyweight in features. The stylish and rugged wearable is a runner’s best companion, thanks to advanced performance metrics and reliable GPS. While the Pace 2 has fewer run profiles, its Track Run Mode has more accurate GPS tracking courtesy of a proprietary algorithm. Yes, gone are the zigzags and random routes other watches measure when you’re running laps.

The Pace 2 also covers staple metrics β€” from calories burned to daily steps. Because it comes with an altimeter, you can track floors climbed, too β€” a feature missing in similar running watches of its class. If you’re training for a marathon, the Pace 2 makes it easier to manage to monitor the intensity of your program and even measure stamina and fatigue.

Outside of running, the watch is solid personal trainer. CORS equips the Pace 2 with 200 built-in exercises. The watch also tracks sleep, breathing, and hydration. Given that running is its bread and butter, don’t expect too many smart features. While it offers mobile notifications, you can’t install third-party apps, enjoy contactless payments, or store music onboard.

Battery Life: 20 days in regular mode, 30 hours in GPS mode | Water Resistance: 50M
Sleep Tracking: Yes | Contactless Payments: No | Smart Notifications: Yes

Garmin Venu 2 Plus

Best running watch for women

Best running watch for women
Garmin’s Venu 2 has a stylish aesthetic that belies its feature-packed offering

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus balances health and fitness in a sleek frame. Building on the success of its predecessor, the sports watch boasts upgraded sleep tracking and introduces new activities. For runners, you have three profiles to choose from: Running, Treadmill Running, and Indoor Track Running. Outside running, you get new modes like HIIT, Hiking, and Indoor Climbing.

The watch offers support for voice assistants and comes with the ability to take phone calls. It has music storage for up to 650 songs, too. Wellness features are also aplenty. Aside from the usual heart rate tracker, you can monitor sleep quality, blood oxygen saturation, and stress level. Women can also track their menstrual cycles.

As for navigation, the Venus 2 Plus comes with GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. Garmin adds incident detection for select activities, too. If you’re worried a running watch is too sporty, think again. The 43mm Venu 2 Plus comes in different stylish variants. However, for formal or dressier occasions, we recommend the cream gold stainless steel bezel with the ivory case and silicone band.

Battery Life: 9 days in regular mode, 24 hours in GPS mode | Water Resistance: 50M
Sleep Tracking: Yes | Contactless Payments: Yes | Smart Notifications: Yes

Polar M200

Best running watch for beginners

Best running watch for beginners
The Polar M200 is a budget-friendly wearable crammed with practical running features

For beginners, an entry-level watch is a logical choice. Here, our pick is the affordable Polar M200. Despite its budget-friendly price, the wearable is packed with features. A lot of it has to do with Polar Flow. The platform, integrated into the M200, includes features like Running Index, allowing you to monitor your progress. You can also plan training programs for four targets β€” 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon.

But running isn’t what the M200 is all about. Like many sports watches, you can choose from several exercise profiles. Motivation, which is important for newbies, isn’t left unnoticed. With Polar Flow, you get feedback after training sessions. You can also share the data with your coach or connect with online sports communities like Nike+ Run Club or MyFitnessPal.

In terms of aesthetics, Polar’s M200 isn’t as eye-catching as a Garmin or Fitbit wearable. The screen, in particular, looks a bit dated. However, it’s discreet enough for everyday wear, tracking your daily activity and sleep. Plus, it comes in several colors of straps you can mix and match with the case.

Battery Life: 6 days | Water Resistance: Suitable for swimming
Sleep Tracking: Yes | Contactless Payments: No | Smart Notifications: Yes

Garmin Forerunner 945

Best Garmin watch for running

Best Garmin watch for running
Garmin’s Forerunner 945 has advanced mapping and navigation features for pros

On the opposite side of the price spectrum is the Garmin Forerunner 945. As the top-of-the-line Forerunner, the 945 is designed for serious runners and professional athletes. The watch boasts advanced training, planning, and analysis features, including VO2 Max, training load, and training effect. Using a compatible accessory, you can also carry out HRV stress tests and monitor respiration rate.

Users get seven running profiles from the 945. Compared to other Garmin sports watches, you get exclusive modes with a Forerunner. These include outdoor track running, virtual running, and trail running. Connected to outside sensors, the watch can provide you with running dynamics, real-time stride length, and even lactate threshold. It also comes with Pace Pro, providing guidance for a selected course or distance.

Like most Garmin Forerunners, however, the 945 isn’t touchscreen. While physical buttons are better for harsh weather conditions, touch support would make it easier to navigate the advanced maps the watch offers. Otherwise, the 945 is a well-designed running watch with a solid build, long battery life, and extensive smart features.

Battery Life: 2 weeks regular mode, 36 hours GPS mode | Water Resistance: 50M
Sleep Tracking: Yes | Contactless Payments: Yes | Smart Notifications: Yes

Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar

Best watch for trail running

Best watch for trail running
Advanced metrics are standard in Garmin’s Fenix lineup

For trail running, you’ll want a durable watch that boasts a long battery life and offers advanced navigation. All these are present in theΒ Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar. The 47mm wearable brandishes a titanium bezel and a scratch-resistant Power Sapphire lens. The same lens can also harvest solar power, extending battery life to 173 days. It’s also loaded with topographical maps that cover a range of activities.

Like most sports watches, compatible accessories expand the capability of the Fenix 7, especially when it comes to running features. It also introduces Ultra Running mode that’s not found in other Garmin lineups. Outside of running, you’ll find an extensive list of outdoor recreation, swimming, golfing, and cycling features. Advanced training, planning, and analysis features are available, too.

All these functions do come with a price. Garmin’s Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar edition retails for $899. But you’re not just paying for activity and fitness tracking. The premium watch enjoys several health and wellness features, including SpO2 monitoring and Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor. You’ll find a wealth of smart features, too, from onboard music storage and smartphone music controls to contactless payments and support for call alerts.

Battery Life: 173 days in battery saver mode with solar | Water Resistance: 100M
Sleep Tracking: Yes | Contactless Payments: Yes | Smart Notifications: Yes

Fitbit Sense

Best smartwatch for running

Best smartwatch for running
The Fitbit Sense is a capable smartwatch ideal for casual runners

If you want a balance of fitness and smart features, consider the Fitbit Sense. Marketed as a health smartwatch, the Sense is decidedly for those who want to stay connected. The watch comes with built-in voice assistants, support for Bluetooth calls, and the ability to download apps. It also offers customizable watch faces, contactless payments, and music controls.

As for the health aspect, Fitbit Sense is pushing innovation. Although Apple may have popularized ECG in wearables, Sense has introduced cool features like skin temperature readings and EDA. You also get snore and noise detection, menstrual cycle tracking, and SpO2 monitoring. Just keep in mind some of the features are behind a subscription paywall.

The running features on the Sense are a bit limited. Unlike Garmin, you’re not getting a lot of parameters here. Still, casual runners will appreciate what the watch has to offer. It comes with a built-in GPS, after all, so you get data like pace and distance. If you want more metrics, you’ll probably be bummed out that you can’t connect the Sense to external sensors.

Battery Life: Up to 6 days | Water Resistance: 50M
Sleep Tracking: Yes | Contactless Payments: Yes | Smart Notifications: Yes

Verdict

The best GPS watch for running includes models from Coros, Garmin, Polar, and Fitbit.

There are no surprises in the models you’ll find as the best running watches. Brands like Garmin and Coros have always led the pack. But if you’re looking to save money or prefer more of a smartwatch, Polar and Fitbit are great options, too.

For men, the Coros Pace 2 is our recommendation. It’s a lightweight device with a focus on advanced metrics for running. Women, on the other hand, will appreciate the style and substance of the Garmin Venu 2 Plus. It’s a capable sports watch that looks sleek even on formal occasions.

If you’re on a budget, the under $200 Polar M200 is a solid purchase. While its design leaves a lot to be desired, several running features are crammed into the device. For serious runners, however, you can splurge on the Garmin Forerunner 945. It supports external sensors, tracks countless running parameters, and boasts extensive smart features.

Meanwhile, trail runners will have plenty to love in the Garmin Fenix 7. The Sapphire Solar edition, in particular, sports a rugged build, extended solar battery life, and advanced mapping. For more casual runners, the Fitbit Sense, well, makes sense. It’s a reasonably priced smartwatch with modest running features and a plethora of health monitoring tools.

FAQs

πŸ“Œ Can I get the Coros Pace 2 in different colors?

Yes. The Coros Pace 2 comes in different colors, depending on the band you get. The silicone band models are available in blue steel, dark navy, and white. On the other hand, nylon band models come in dark navy and white.

πŸ“Œ Does the Fitbit Sense support Stryd?

Currently, Fitbit Sense does not support functionality with Stryd.

πŸ“Œ How long is the battery life of the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar in smartwatch mode?

In smartwatch mode, the Garmin Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar has a battery life of 18 days. It extends to 22 days with solar.

πŸ“Œ What kind of display does the Garmin Venu 2 Plus have?

The Garmin Venu 2 Plus has an AMOLED display with an optional always-on mode.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.