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No matter what level you are in regards to running, a good GPS running watch can help you get to the next one, whether you just got off the couch or are getting ready for a full marathon. There are a few smart phone running apps out there like Endomondo and Nike+ Running that can track your time and distance while mapping your route, but carrying your phone while running can be annoying and potentially dangerous for your phone. Besides that, it’s hard to check your stats and progress while on the move with a smart phone the way you can with a running watch.
A good GPS running watch will allow you to upload all of your data to an online program that gives you the chance to get detailed reports on your running and many of them will offer invaluable training tools such as downloadable workout plans that you can then take with you. All these benefits together make having a good GPS running watch a necessity for runners.
Here is a list of 12 of the best GPS watches available on the market today.
1. Garmin Forerunner 620
Garmin has been producing high-quality GPS sports watches for quite a while now, and the Forerunner 620 is no different. This watch has a touch screen with a high-resolution color display that clearly displays your run’s progress. It tracks numerous important parameters, does calculations to find out important stats like your VO2 max, give a detailed analysis of your form, and it can even approximate how much recovery time you’ll need before your next run. This is easily the best running watch on the market today.
2. Garmin Forerunner 910XT
For those who want to use their sports watch for more than just running, Garmin also has the Forerunner 910XT. This amazing device can be used for cycling and swimming in addition to running and has some pretty impressive features for each mode, including counting strokes per lap in swim mode, speed in miles per hour for cycling mode, and a vibrating alert to remind you when you should eat during those long distance runs in running mode.
3. TomTom Runner Cardio
This is one of only a few sports watches available that has an accurate built-in heart rate monitor, making it perfect for those who love to track their heart rate but don’t like dealing with extra gear. This watch is good for runners focusing on physical fitness as it has training levels for you to work in from an easier warm up to a high intensity sprinting mode.
4. TomTom Runner GPS
This is the first watch that TomTom made, and it has three training options to choose from: Race, Goal, and Zone. Race mode allows you to compete against your personal best time. Goal mode lets you set goals of calories burned, time, or distance and then sends you alerts as you accomplish your goals. Zone mode lets you train within a certain heart rate range and sends alerts when you fall out of that range. This TomTom watch does not have a heart rate monitor included, so you do need a separate one for it.
5. Polar RC3GPS HR
Despite its non-stylish look, the Polar RC3GPS HR is a great GPS training watch with a lot of tools to help you get to the next level. It has a simple 5-minute training test that you can take which will let you see the areas in which you need the most work, and has downloadable workout programs on their website that you can put right on your wrist. This watch also has an impressive battery life of up to 12 hours.
6. Polar RCX5
This is another one of the few sports watches available that has a built-in heart rate monitor and its best feature is easily the ZoneOptimizer. The ZoneOptimizer helps you perform your absolute best by automatically adjusting the heart rate ranges you should be between depending on how fast you’re going. You can run or cycle with this sports watch and it has a way to transfer all your run data to your computer to review.
7. Leikr GPS Sport Watch
This watch was developed by an independent group and definitely has a unique look, more like something out of science fiction than a sports watch. But, it backs up its futuristic look with some impressive features like Wi-Fi, cloud integration, and a colored screen that displays maps. It also works with online tracking and training programs like Endomondo to download training routines.
8. Nike+ SportWatch GPS
This newer watch from Nike has quite a few cool features and is uses GPS technology from TomTom to bring you accurate GPS mapping on all your routes. Its training features not only gives you the ability to record your run data. It also motivates you to do more, and with the numerous social aspects of their website, your training can quickly become competitive will all of your friends.
9. Suunto Ambit2 GPS Heart Rate Monitor
Don’t let this watch’s sleek look fool you. The Suunto Ambit 3 is just as packed with features as many of its competitors and can track everything about you from speed, heart rate, and distance, and the world around you with altitude and weather condition notifications. There are extra apps you can download to make it work harder for you, a whopping 16 hour battery life, and a durable glass fiber case.
10. Timex Ironman Run Trainer GPS Watch
This watch also has a built-in heart rate monitor and a good-sized display screen. It can track your heart rate, distance, pace, and time for up to 8 hours on one charge and is also water resistant up to 50 meters which means you don’t have to worry about rain or water. This also has eating and drinking reminders, and lets you check your recovery heart rate as you cool down.
11. Soleus 262
If you’re looking for something on the lower end of the price scale, the Soleus 262 might be the one for you. Despite its low cost, you still get quite a few features out of it, including timing additional laps, interval timers, target times on race days, and a memory that can hold information for 30 runs.
12. Adidas MiCoach Smart Run Watch
Adidas has a number of products within the MiCoach series, including the MiCoach Smart Run GPS running watch. This watch is geared specifically toward giving you data that will help you run better, and sending you coaching tips throughout your run with downloadable and customizable workout plans. It also has a music player and a heart rate monitor, as well as the ability to upload your data to the online MiCoach website.