What? You didn’t place in the top 10 in the New York marathon this past weekend? Aww, that’s alright. There’s always next year. And there are always new gadgets to help conquer those miles. If waiting for a satellite signal isn’t on your list of running goals, hit pause and set aside some time to check out our top picks for GPS watches to help you achieve your best. Get out the door and maximize your run by tracking distance, pace, heart rate and calories burned. Keep a virtual log to help you recount goals, injuries and overall training awesomeness. If you don’t have a GPS watch as your running partner yet, we’re certain that after you check this out, you’ll be slapping one on your wrist.
1. Timex Ironman One GPS+ ($499): This just might be the one you’re after in the wearable tech department. Take the Timex Ironman One GPS+ out for a spin, and you may not want to give it back. It practically does everything but lace up your running shoes. This gadget is outfitted with an embedded 3G chipset that lets you do live tracking. SOS Mode issues safety alerts. And there’s instant messaging, so when your friends want to hit up the local pub, you can let them know you’ll catch up after your run. Need some tuneage to go with your pavement pounding? How does 4GB of music storage space sound to you? Oh, and get this: You don’t need a phone in your pocket to take advantage of all these features.
2. Adidas miCoach Smart Run Watch ($400): If you’re a runner who’s all about measuring your heart rate, get ready. This watch is revolutionizing the heart-rate monitor as we know it. There’s no black strap to wrap around your chest. Instead, users will be able to monitor their heart rate on their wrist. And they don’t call this the miCoach for nothing. This watch has audio coaching, GPS tracking and the ability to play music via Bluetooth. If you weren’t motivated to go for a run before, this watch just might be the gadget to get you out the door.
3. Garmin Forerunner 620 ($400): Garmin is synonymous with GPS running watches and trust: They’ve given clunky GPS watch of the past a clean and modern facelift. Not only do you get a slimmer package and colorful high resolution display, but there are some nifty apps to help you reach those running and race goals. Before your run, download customized workouts via Garmin Connect. During your run, alerts at predetermined times or distances will trigger sound and vibration alerts. After your run, you’ll be notified of personal records and given predictions for your fastest time over common distances, from 5K to marathon. If you train with the heart rate monitor, this watch picks up on your VO2 max (the amount of oxygen you can consume, duh) and measures cadence and ground contact time. P.S. For all of you winter road warriors out there, you won’t even have to remove your gloves to operate the touchscreen on this baby. Brrr-rilliant!
4. Leikr ($369): Created by a tech group in Denmark, the Leikr GPS watch was crowdfunded via Kickstarter back in early 2013. It features a two-inch glass screen that’s capable of displaying color road maps or six different running metrics at one time. And you won’t find your nose buried in the instruction manual; right out of the box, setup is a breeze. It might appear to be bulky, but we promise it’s thin. Plus, the large color display more than makes up for the girth.
5. Suunto Ambit2 ($320): Just like Superman, Suunto’s Ambit 2 is almost indestructible. It’s a well-made watch that you can take running, cycling, and swimming, and it even has a triathlon mode. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll have no issues connecting to GPS within seconds. Yep, you read that right, seconds. Besides doing anything, anywhere, this watch offers fun extras. May we suggest downloading the Beers Burned Off app?
6. TomTom Runner Cardio ($270): Calling all multi-sport aficionados: The TomTom Runner Cardio may just be the watch for you. It won’t break the bank, and it has strong features that make it an excellent workout companion. Its top priority is fitness, rather than too many bells and whistles.
7. Garmin Forerunner 220 ($250): With a finely tuned older sibling like the Garmin Forerunner 620, you may ask why anyone would want the 220. They basically have the same features, but the 220 does not boast a touchscreen or heart-rate monitor. Other than that, it’s basically the same coach on your wrist. If you can live without the “fancy” stuff, you can save yourself a chunk of change or splurge on new running shoes.
8. MIO Alpha ($200): This watch won’t measure your distance, pace or steps taken, but it does measure heart rate without a chest strap. Most athletes know that heart rate indicates fitness and intensity better than other measurements, but until recently, the only effective way for athletes to measure heart rate was by wearing a chest strap. The MIO Alpha changes that with a built in optical sensor that can calculate heart rate for running, cycling and swimming. While it doesn’t measure distance, you can adjust your minimum and maximum desired heart rate, get an alert when you’re over, under or within the correct heart rate zone, and turn on a stopwatch to time activity.
9. Timex Ironman Run X20 ($155): “Small, simple and smart” sums up this tiny package that packs a punch. It doesn’t take up too much real estate on your wrist, it’s not over-complicated and it’s the perfect running companion to hit those goals.
10. TomTom Runner ($150): This is a great mid-range GPS running watch that gets the job done with a lower price tag than its techy-er TomTom Runner Cardio counterpart. The best thing about this watch is its ease in setting running goals and getting visual feedback on how close you are to achieving them. Oh, and the battery? It lasts longer (10 hours) than other GPS competitors.
11. Nike+ SportWatch GPS with Sensor ($140): Ready, set, run with this easy-to-use gadget and its customizable display that allows you to see whatever info you need at any given moment. Track your distance and calories, create workout reminders, set goals and share your personal best with friends… whatever keeps you motivated.
12. Magellan Echo ($100): In the wearable tech fitness realm, you’ll find activity trackers, sports watches and smartwatches. The Echo is sort of a smart sports watch hybrid. The Echo keeps its price attractive by keeping key expensive components in your phone rather than in the watch itself. Yes, you do need to carry your phone with you when working out with the Echo, but are you really running without your phone anyway? We think not. If you somehow don’t carry your phone, the Echo will only function as a stopwatch. While this may not be the watch for data-hungry athletes, it’s great for those who simply want a sports-tracking gadget.
Which GPS watch is your main running partner? Talk to us in the comments below?