In an age where everything can be tracked the rise of the smart watches has made it possible and easier than ever to stay on top of your overall health and wellbeing, whether it’s sleep or calories or fitness you’re tracking. If you’re a pure novice at the the running game or a professional in your field, smartwatches are making it more enjoyable to bust a lung daily.
As a long term investment, running watches are a portable and wearable coach, allowing you to track distance, pace and endurance and more all at the flick of a wrist. Want to play music? Done. Show off to your friends via Facebook? Easy. But most importantly, it creates a visual insight into progress – hello actually taking up those 2018 resolutions.
There are many things to consider when diving into the never-ending realm of the smart watch market. Ben Barwick, running coach at Full Potential states, “If you are into running marathons and spending four hours running on race day then certainly think about your battery life. If you do a lot of sports, and running is just one of them alongside the gym, then maybe a more generic fitness watch would be better suited. If you run to music think about a brand that lets you play music from the watch without having to carry around your phone.”
If you enjoy cross-country running: When you’re running around a mountain, which is roughly 1300m high, the altimeter can tell you that you are at 800m. It is an important measure when you’re not training on the flat as not all miles are created equal.”
Most importantly, “Think about how easy the watch is to use. I say that if my mum can use it then that is a good litmus test of a running watch.” And as always make sure you’re a fan or have heard good things about the company you are essentially buying into. Customer service is worth more than you realise.
And with that, we’ve helped round up the best brands to consider when finding the best running watch. You’re welcome.
The Best Running Watch Brands
One of the first and most obvious brands to consider is the OG of running watches – Garmin. The US company was founded in 1980 and specialised in satellite navigation – take it almost 40 years down the track and the navigation experts have continued to be pioneers in the running watch trade.
There are many models on the market from these guys, so it is best to do you research so you don’t end up with too many unnecessary features – because they can get pretty high-tech. If you’re a serious runner however, this may be the brand for you.
Garmin Vivoactive 3 Smartwatch / $449 AUD SHOP NOW
Another OG in the smartwatch game, Fitbit have been churning out a huge range of watches from simple activity trackers to more advanced models that use GPS. The Blaze, the Ionic and the Versa all include GPS trackers, heart rate monitors and online coaches, but if your budget doesn’t reach as far, the cheaper models will be far simpler.
Again, due to its large range, do some research and work out exactly what you need from your watch.
Fitbit Iconic Watch / $400 AUD SHOP NOW
A brand that may be new or overlooked to the casual runner, Polar is definielty a brand you should look into. Founded in Finland, the European brand were leading the way with technology early on, creating the first wireless heart-rate monitor back in 1982, which now has been adapted into most smart watches.
Like the above brands, Polar has a specialised range of high-tech sports gear so research and the odd question to a representative is warranted. From basic features to more complicated features as well as google music, many of the watches are also waterproof – handy if you want to take a swim on the way – and also have a good battery if you take long winded runs.
Polar M200 GPS Running Watch / $199 AUD SHOP NOW
The Californian company proved to be a world wide success in the phone and computer department and seemed to get bored, deciding to enter in the smart watch department with tough competition from Garmin and Polar. Since its very first release of the Apple Watch, the company is killing it with continual updates and models, making it a contender with the big leagues.
As with its phone, the watch is easy to use, attractive and allows for third-party apps so you can sync your watch with all of your other devices. Go phone-less with apple music, cellular capabilities meaning you can talk on the go and as an addition, they have recently come out with waterproof editions.
Apple Watch Series 3 / $459 AUD SHOP NOW
A competitor of Apple for years, Samsung are following the company into the smart watch game – better late than never right?
Obviously, if you’re a fan of Apple then Samsung may not be for you, but they do have a similar look to the Garmin range. Not as directed at the pro runner, the Samsung rewrite includes Spotify for the athlete who likes to listen to music and features a rotating bezel so you don’t mess up the screen with dirty finger prints. Definitely a contender if you want a simple model.
Samsung Gear Sport Watch / $449 AUD SHOP NOW
TomTom is once again another navigation manufacturer that has moved into the smart watch game, following the lead of Garmin. Despite being slightly younger, the Dutch company is certainly giving them a run for their money.
Entering the market a little later in 2017, the company introduced the TomTom runner, most recently coming out with the third edition. Lightweight and well fitted, the watch was welcomed by the athletic world and the technology keeps getting better. The TomTom Runner 3 includes everything you need- a GPS, heart-rate monitor, V02 max feedback and an inbuilt music player – without all the additional features that ups the price point, keeping it relatively affordable.
TomTom Runner 3 Cardio + Music Watch / $349 AUD SHOP NOW
Finnish company Suunto was founded in the 1930’s as pioneers for compass production with the design and manufacturing of watches coming in 1977. With a long, established history behind them, the company have incorporated its history in the brands line of smart watches. Being the first company to include a ABC functions of altimeter, barometer and compass, it is best to never hit the bush without a Suunto on your wrist.
Suunto Transverse Watch / $600 AUD SHOP NOW
Forming back in 1953, Timex is one of the oldest watch brands out of the lot and they almost became a distant memory in the 1970’s before the company found its way into the sports watch industry. Creating the Timex Ironman in 1986, the brand made a name for themselves.
These days Timex have continued to keep it simple, stripping back unnecessary features with a black and white 8-bit graphics but keeps GPS capabilities.
Timex Ironman GPS Watch / $100 USD SHOP NOW
Known for its bulky and durable aesthetic, Nixon watches are made for the adventurous type and now runners can get in on the action. Despite its lower battery life – roughly one day before it needs recharging – it is the stylish alternative for the casual runner.
Despite being marketed towards surfers and snow boarders, the watch features every-day functions including maps, music and weather, easily connecting to your smart phone for big screen tracking.
Nixon Mission SS 48mm Smart Watch / $680 AUD SHOP NOW
Not only is the Wellograph a ‘fitness’ watch, this ridiculously sleek model is also considered a ‘lifestyle’ watch, and the brains of this one is even bigger than its beauty.
Linking up to an app that continually monitors your runs, sleep, step count and heart rate, this watch also features a 9-axis accelerometer which more accurately counts your daily steps – meaning you can’t cheat the system with a sneaky shake. Better yet, it is able to store information on the app for up to four months so you can track and compare your progress.
Wellograph Wellness Watch / £45 GBP SHOP NOW
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