Running watches have come a long way. From the classic Timex sports watch to today’s Garmin technology, it’s easy to forget that runners during the first running boom mapped their runs using the odometers on their cars. Now we’re all walking around like we have Inspector Gadget’s Go-Go Gadget Watch on our wrists, and we think nothing of it. The latest tech can even estimate our blood oxygen levels and give us a pretty good idea of our Vo2Max. It’s really cool but also a little overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right one for your specific needs.
Running watches are not created equal. You have smartwatches, fitness trackers, multisport watches, and plain old pedometers. We wanted to make it easy for you to choose your favorite type and brand. We reviewed several dozen to find the most functional, accurate, and easiest running watches to wear and use. All the watches on this list have useful features meant to help you be the healthiest, fittest version of yourself.
This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated. More importantly, each member of our team is a fitness enthusiast. Fitness may be our job, but it is also our passion. Therefore, we strive to bring you products that we trust and would personally use.
The Best Running Watches – Our Top Picks
By clicking on the product links in this article, we may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Sponsorships and affiliate commissions help support our research so we can help you find the best products. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.
Best Overall Running Watch: Garmin Forerunner 255
Best Garmin Running Watch: Garmin Venu 2 Plus
Best GPS Running Watch: COROS Pace 2
Best Running Watch With Music: Garmin Forerunner 255 Music
Best Budget Running Watch: Fitbit Inspire 3
Best Men’s Running Watch: COROS Vertix 2 GPS Adventure Watch
Best Running Watch for Beginners: Garmin Forerunner 55
Best Women’s Running Watch: Polar Pacer Pro
Best Smart Running Watch: Apple Watch 7
Best Running Watch for Triathletes: Suunto Ambit3 Peak
Battery life: Watch mode, up to 14 days; GPS-only GNSS mode, up to 30 hours
Size: 49g; 45.6 x 45.6 x 12.9 mm
Intended uses: Running
Special features: Advanced health stats, guided training and suggested workouts, gold-standard GPS, recovery guidance
Runners will love the race training features, which will grant you insights into courses, offer race-specific training tips, and provide pace predictions. And, to make sure you are well-rounded—the Garmin Forerunner 255 has 30 activities built in to help you track your cross training and strength training. In fact, the watch comes with HIIT, strength, cardio, yoga, and Pilates workouts already loaded, so you have no excuse not to strength train.
We don’t have many complaints about this watch but understand that it might take a bit of time to figure out all it has to offer. Unless you’re a total gearhead, you may have to spend some minutes going through the widgets and buttons to make sure you are getting the most out of this awesome beast.
What We Like
Relatively lightweight and comes in a smaller 39g version
Multiple and functional activity options
Race widget features course details and recommended workouts for epic training
Comprehensive body analytics
What We Don’t Like
Not a touchscreen
Complex navigation, takes time to learn all the tricks