Smartwatches are no longer a novelty – they are a tool to help you fitness goals. While all models offer basic features, there is no one-size-fits-all wristband.
Before you head out to buy one, find out what’s right for you — and use this list of smartwatches as a guideline of sorts. That’s because whether it’s Garmin and Fitbit working together, or the Apple Watch Series 4 giving you exercise stats, there’s a whole lot that can help you run smarter, better, and faster.
How do you choose the best smartwatch for runners?
These are the parameters to consider:
No GPS watch is 100 percent accurate, but you wish it were close enough. If a smartwatch doesn’t match how far or fast you are runthat can mess up your training.
Some runners might want a heart rate monitor that consistently records and displays their heart rate so they can track their progress over time. Blood oxygen meters also measure oxygen levels, allowing runners to adjust their workout intensity, distance and times based on accurate numbers.
The basics are the best: you don’t have to do much with your running watch. It only takes a few buttons to keep track of your most important stats: time, distance, pace, elevation gain and loss.
All you really need to know is when, how far or how fast you are going and how many hills you have climbed or descended. If you want more features, make sure they’re easy to use so you can focus on your run.
3) Battery Life
Battery life is also important. You don’t want to charge your watch more than once a week, especially if you’re running long distances and using music or GPS.
Best smartwatches for running in 2022
Here are a few such smartwatches:
1) Apple Watch Series 6
Specifications: Track your activity, heart rate and oxygen level.
Pros and cons: Provides detailed health information while running, tracks routes and elevations, and offers a quick 90-minute recharge. Long lasting, about 18 hours.
If you’re an avid runner, Series 6 is a great Apple watch for you. It has a built-in heart rate monitor that holds your wrist up to check your heart rate automatically. There’s also a GPS that tracks your pace, distance and location. Unlike previous models, this one lasts a full day before needing a recharge.
2) Garmin Vivo Active 4
Specifications: heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensor, advanced training features
Pros and cons: Tracks distance, pace, heart rate and other stats; stream music from your smartphone. The broadcast mode may have issues.
If you’re looking for a basic fitness tracker that can give you accurate heart rate and oxygen readings, the Garmin Vivo Active 4 is a good choice. It also has cadence tracking to help you make your runs more efficient.
It tracks a wide variety of exercises, and you can add more through Connect IQ, similar to the App Store for Garmin devices. It has impressive GPS tracking that locks to satellites within seconds of turning it on and gives navigation tips.
You can stream music through it; however, using the GPS and music at the same time cuts the battery life to six hours.
3) Fitbit Versa 3
Specifications: Heart rate monitor, heart rate sensor, notifications, goal-based training modes, blood oxygen sensor and altimeter.
Pros and cons: Automatically recognizes over 20 workouts, including swimming, heart rate zone alerts, and monitors weekly activity goals instead of daily. The app requires some features.
The Fitbit Versa 3 is a more fitness-focused smartwatch than the other Fitbits on this list. It has a built-in GPS to track distance, route and pace while running or walking. Plus, it’s water-resistant up to 50 meters, so you can swims at.
4) Garmin Forerunner 945
Specifications: Heart rate monitor, heart rate alerts, blood oxygen level, barometric altimeter, audio notifications
Pros and cons: Available training information includes load, status, effect; GPS and navigation accuracy; and training advice. Biometrics are very accurate, but also expensive.
The Garmin 945 is one of the best smartwatches on the market. It’s great for serious runners looking to analyze their workouts, especially with its GPS and navigation capabilities.
The Forerunner 945 also helps you customize your workouts. It coaches you through intervals and provides a lot of information, such as lap times and heart rate. The smartwatch also tracks your training load over several days to let you know if you’re overtraining or undertraining. It also gives you status updates about your health.
5) Polar Vantage V2
Specifications: heart rate monitor, integrated GPS and route planning, training load information
Pros and cons: The app can track up to 130 sports, including cycling, running and swimming. Reliable GPS routing and even provides fuel recommendations.
The biggest drawback is the touchscreen, which can slow down and fail.
This wristband uses your workout data to help you manage your workouts. It tells you when to push yourself and when to pull back so you can build stamina without getting injured. It also helps with nutrition: it gives you calorie burn goals and keeps track of how many calories you have burned.
To take off
Ultimately, you may be looking for a smartwatch for your own running, or you may also be interested in their various features. We’ve done our best above to map out the current landscape of smartwatches for runners.
However, we cannot predict how everything may turn out. So grab your own smartwatch and head into the future.