Best running watch 2022: Amazing smart devices and fitness trackers

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November 16, 2022: Looking to track your progress? Check out our updated list below to pick up the best running watch for you.

Finding the best running watch can be tricky at times, especially as there are so many options to choose from that range drastically in price.

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Unlike fitness trackers though, which simply monitor your heart rate, steps, and calories burned, running watches tend to take things a step further to optimise your cardio-based training and improve your performance each and every session.

For instance, some of the best Garmin watches come with handy on-screen displays to show you which direction to take whilst exercising, plus specific modes for different running surfaces to help them track your health metrics more accurately.

If this sounds like the kind of device for you, then here are our top picks based on price, reviews, and, perhaps most importantly, any unique features that make them ideal for running and training.

Whether you're looking for one of the best Fitbits around in this Ionic device, or a standout watch from Garmin, like this Forerunner 955, then we've got you covered right here.

We've also answered some of the most commonly asked questions regarding running watches to help inform your decision on whether a smart device will help you achieve your fitness goals.

Before that though, let's get into our list of the best running watches available now...

Best running watch

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Best running watch for everyday use - Fitbit Ionic

Best running Watch Fitbit product image of a charcoal grey smart watch.
Credit: Fitbit
Brand: Fitbit | Heart Rate: Yes | Sleep Tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Water Resistance: up to 50m | Bluetooth: Yes | Quoted Battery Life: up to 5 days | Touchscreen: Yes | Mobile Payments: Yes

The Fitbit Ionic is one of the brand's top smartwatches for running and cycling as it includes a number of handy features for cardio-based activities.

One such feature includes the automatic running detection system which should allow you to jump on your treadmill and begin your workout without having to worry about setting up the fitness tracking metrics.

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Moreover, it comes with a built-in GPS and the ability to store 300 plus songs, so you shouldn't need to bring your phone with you every time you want to listen to music through your running headphones.

All in all, we feel this Fitbit is well worth considering for your cardiovascular exercise.

Best premium running watch - Garmin Forerunner 955

Best running watch Garmin product image of a black watch with orange and white digital time information on the display.
Credit: Garmin
Brand: Garmin | Heart Rate: Yes | Sleep Tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Water Resistance: up to 50m | Bluetooth: Yes | Quoted Battery Life: up to 15 days | Touchscreen: Yes | Mobile Payments: Yes

Featured in our list of the best watches under 1500, this Garmin Forerunner 955 is a serious bit of kit if you're into long-distance running, short sprints, or even triathlons.

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The device has access to multiple navigation satellite systems to improve responsiveness in areas where GNSS signals are reflected or weak, thus giving you superior accuracy on your running data.

You also get PulseOx detection, Live Event Sharing, a Body Battery indicator, and Accident Detection and Assistance which is useful if you injure yourself during your workout for instance.

The key to the Forerunner 955 though is its improved battery life, boasting 15 days of charge in smartwatch mode to fulfil all your exercise needs.

Best running watch for beginners - Coros Pace 2

Best running watch Coros product image of a light grey watch with light blue details.
Credit: Coros
Brand: Coros | Heart Rate: Yes | Sleep Tracking: Unspecified | GPS: Yes | Water Resistance: up to 50m | Bluetooth: Yes | Quoted Battery Life: up to 20 days | Touchscreen: Yes | Mobile Payments: Unspecified

Coros strive to help athletes achieve their best through products such as its Pace 2 smartwatch which we previously featured in our list of the best swimming watches on the market.

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Firstly, Coros boasts this watch is one of the lightest fitness trackers on the market, weighing just 29g, which should help you forget the watch is even there when you're exercising.

Moreover, it comes with a Track Mode that uses a proprietary algorithm to make sure your track runs and workouts are measured accurately if you're into athletics.

We also feel like the always-on backlit display can be useful when you want to check your stats quickly during your run, but it also comes with a Night Mode that dims the screen in the evening.

If you're not convinced just yet, then maybe the fact that this watch has been endorsed by Eliud Kipchoge, the sub-two-hour marathon runner, may be enough to change your mind.

Best running watch for stats - Polar Vantage V2

Best running watch Polar product image of a black smartwatch with running metrics on its display.
Credit: Polar
Brand: Polar | Heart Rate: Yes | Sleep Tracking: Unspecified | GPS: Yes | Water Resistance: up to 100m | Bluetooth: Yes | Quoted Battery Life: up to 7 days | Touchscreen: Yes | Mobile Payments: Unspecified

The Polar Vantage V2 is engineered to keep you on top of your progress by allowing you to track and test your workouts accurately and effectively.

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Firstly, its training load and recovery tracking tools are designed to help optimise your workout regime and should prevent you from overtraining and damaging your progress.

Furthermore, you can measure your heart rate, speed, and fitness zones with the built-in running and cycling performance tests to see how you're performing whilst working out.

Based on these features, we feel the Polar Vantage V2 will likely be the ideal bit of kit for you if you're looking to take your athletic performance to the next level.

Best long-distance running watch - Garmin Enduro

Best running watch Garmin product image of a dark grey watch with a fabric strap.
Credit: Garmin
Brand: Garmin | Heart Rate: Yes | Sleep Tracking: Yes | GPS: Yes | Water Resistance: up to 100m | Bluetooth: Yes | Quoted Battery Life: up to 300 hours | Touchscreen: Yes | Mobile Payments: Yes

As the name suggests, the Garmin Enduro should be the ideal fitness tracker for long-distance running thanks to its Power Glass solar charging lens which harvests the sun’s energy to give it up to 300 hours of battery life.

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While the Power Glass is this watches headline feature, it also comes with the usual fitness tracking features such as heart rate monitoring, and calorie tracking, plus a ClimbPro trail option that provides information on upcoming descents and flats for your own safety.

This watch goes one step further for trail runners by taking the inclines into account when calculating your VO2 max, which should provide you with a more accurate and useful reading.

So get your best marathon shoes ready as this is, without a doubt, a serious device for hardcore runners. However, we feel there are also plenty of features included for everyday use as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Running Watches

With so many different kinds of smartwatches available, you probably have a number of questions about them, but we're here to clear up some of the most common queries.

How much should you spend on a running watch?

The answer to this question will vary depending on your available budget and how seriously you take your exercise.

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If you run regularly and want something to track multiple stats, then spending a bit extra on a running watch should give you access to a few more features like the Garmin Enduro's ClimbPro trail information.

However, if you're looking for a smartwatch primarily for everyday use and to occasionally exercise with, then you may not need to spend as much as you won't necessarily need the most advanced and technology-packed device.

What should you look for from a running watch?

The key features for running include a GPS tracker, heart rate monitor, and calories burned, however, some devices come with a few additional features which make them even more perfect for running.

These additional features may include but are not limited to a recovery time calculator, music storage, customisable workouts, and even online challenges so you can compete against your friends.

Does a running watch show your pace?

Most running watches will show you your current average pace whilst you exercise.

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If they include a GPS, which the ones featured in our list all do, then they will most likely also provide more accurate feedback on your overall running pace, cadence, and elevation for you to analyse post-workout to optimise your training.

Can you use a running watch without a phone?

Typically speaking, you don't need a phone or app nearby for a running watch to function.

You can usually leave your parent device behind and just use your smartwatch to record data about your workouts, providing it has a built-in GPS.

A parent device like a phone tends to only be required to sync your data for a more in-depth look at your statistics.

Can you wear a running watch all time time?

A smartwatch or fitness tracker definitely doesn't need to only be worn whilst running or training. In fact, some of the best devices actually provide more accurate information and feedback whilst running if you wear them more regularly.

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For example, some Fitbit trackers provide a Daily Readiness Score to inform whether you're ready for a challenging training session or you're in need of a rest day.

In order to calculate this score, the feature requires data on your recent activity, sleep, and heart rate variability levels against your personal baseline, all of which will be more accurate if you wear your watch every day.

Therefore, to take full advantage of all the advanced technology packed in a running watch, we'd recommend wearing your device for more than just training.

How long does a running watch last?

There's not one simple answer to this question as it will vary depending on the quality of the device, how often it's worn, and how well it is stored when not on your wrist.

The one key sign that you may need to replace your fitness tracker though is when its battery reaches the end of its life. For instance, if your device fails to turn on or it runs out of charge much quicker than before, then the battery is most likely about to die.

However, this could take years, so some casual users may not ever get to this point in their watch's lifecycle.

That said, we'd argue that you may need to replace your running watch if you begin to notice it not performing correctly. The choice is yours though, and you may even want to replace your watch before the end of its life to upgrade to the latest technology.

How long does a running watch take to charge?

This really depends on your specific running watch as the charging time will vary depending on the size of the battery and what you're using to charge it with.

Generally speaking though, a running watch might take anywhere between one to three hours to go from zero battery life to fully charged.

However, you may find some watches come with a fast charging feature that might be capable of charging your watch in just half an hour.

These time frames will vary though, so take them with a pinch of salt. If you want to find out more, you should be able to find out how long it takes to charge a specific device on the manufacturer's website.

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Do running watches lose their accuracy?

No running watch is 100% accurate, whether that's in terms of its GPS tracking or ability to monitor health metrics; however, a running watch shouldn't become less accurate over time providing the technology remains fully functional.

For example, Garmin doesn't claim its watches are 100% accurate; however, the company does boast its devices are accurate to 3 meters 95% of the time.

To help ensure running watches remain accurate though, particularly when it comes to the GPS, most devices will regularly update to keep on top of changes in the landscape and provide the most up-to-date map data.

Read More: Best Running Watch Under 100 - Our Top Picks