With gyms and fitness clubs closed across the country, more people than ever are taking to the streets to keep fit. A running watch is a useful tool for runners of all levels, allowing you to keep track of all your running data including routes, pace, distance, and even heart rate. When shopping for your watch, the most important things to consider are highly accurate GPS service, and great partner apps to ensure you can learn from your own stats and set new targets to improve. Fitness watches come in all shapes and sizes, so we have put together a selection of the best available right now.
For the regular outdoor runner: Fitbit Ionic Watch (from £249.99)
The Fitbit Ionic is the first truly fitness-focused smartwatch to come from the well-known watch company. Runners benefit from multi-day battery life, strong GPS, personalised voice coaching, sleep tracking, and music storage for offline listening. There is also auto pause technology, so your watch knows when you have paused during your run and will reflect this in your stats, rather than having to manually log this. Naturally, the watch is associated with Fitbit and so while you don’t have access to third party apps on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, the Fitbit Coach App provides plenty of expert-led running workouts designed to improve your skill and stamina.
For the stylish and smart runner: Garmin Vivomove Style (from £299)
Garmin is a trusted fitness brand, offering a wide variety of watches to all types of runners and fitness enthusiasts. The Vivomove Style is a refined hybrid smartwatch which combines the classic style of an analog watch with the essential features to track fitness. The watch screen easily switches between analog clockhands and dual colour touch display, allowing you to go straight from office to gym. Clever Body Battery™ Energy Monitoring traces your energy levels so you can decipher the best time for activity and rest. Vivomove can connect to your phone’s GPS for accurate tracking during runs, as well as tracking steps, floors climbed, intensity minutes and more through the day.
For runners in search of a coach: Polar Vantage V (from £307.99)
The Vantage V watch by Polar is one of the best watches on the market right now for tracking lots of stats while you exercise. These include recovery and training insights that not all running watches offer, and is more like having an actual coach training you. One running metric the Vantage V tracks is ‘Power’, which monitors the amount of effort you put into each run, very useful for anyone trying to avoid injury whilst training. The battery life allows 40 hours straight of continuous workout training, all locked into a lightweight and stylish device.
For the professional or adventurous runner: Garmin Fenix 5 Plus (from £599.99)
Garmin’s top-performing Fenix range got an upgrade in 2020 with the release of the Fenix 5 Plus, a multisport GPS smartwatch full of new features including built-in music, contactless payment and colour TopoActive Europe maps featuring Trendline™ popularity routing to help you follow the best running paths. Built-in navigation sensors include three-axis compass, gyroscope, altimeter and multi-satellite capability which can track more challenging, rural environments than GPS alone. The Fenix 5 Plus is a first class fitness watch, with a price tag to match, making it a suitable option for those really serious about performance. And it’s not just for runners – keep it on for your swims, bikes and hikes too.
For the casual runner who wants more from a watch: Apple Watch Series 5 (from £429)
The latest generation of Apple Watch has not changed in design since the Apple Watch 4, but one new element does make it a great all-round watch for everyday fitness – the always-on display. Additional health features have been built in, as well as a better battery life, ideal for longer runs or hikes. Benefitting from the endless third-party fitness apps available on the App Store, the Apple Watch is a great all-rounder for casual runners. The device automatically detects movement, great for if you forget to track your exercise. As expected with Apple, the watch has a sleek and subtle design, and looks great on the wrist.