Running watches are great complements to a runner’s workout, especially with the features and benefits that they bring into a runner’s game. However, with all the different brands and models that have littered the runners market, you might ask yourself, “What running watch should I buy?”
These innovative watches come packed with features that all aim to complement your workout by storing and analyzing data for you. This data is often as important as the workout itself as it can help point out your weaknesses and opportunities, which allow you to come up with a plan or two to address them.
Other than the obvious feature and benefit, running watches also serve as a great way for runners to monitor their overall performance while making them look cool and snazzy, as some watches can be used in semi-formal occasions and such. These watches do come at a hefty price of course and certain factors should be looked at before you can answer the question, “What running watch should I buy?”
Advantages of Wearing a Running Watch
Running watches were developed with the sole purpose of gathering and providing information that is relevant to anybody who has a penchant for running and, as technology develops, more and more features become packed into a small, yet smart, contraption. Here are some of the advantages of wearing a running watch during a workout:
- Tracks Your Performance Improvement
As previously stated, running watches gather, store and analyze data for your use. This includes how well you did on a certain section of your usual route, which includes an output of your speed, heart rate and other external factors, like the weather and wind speed. All these get wrapped up and digested by algorithms within the watch and translated into graphs and line charts.
- Makes Workouts Understandable
With regards the graphs and line charts, running watches allow you to read your data better either by syncing with their website or by displaying it over a mobile app on your phone. This makes data more digestible and quantifiable.
- Monitors Your Speed
A more obvious advantage is that running watches help track your speed over different terrains using GPS technology. Routes are often divided into splits which help compartmentalize your workouts and lets you analyze your speed performance piecemeal.
- Prevents Over or Undertraining
A great benefit of wearing running watches while running is that it tells you if you are not running up to your set standard or if you are overreaching and going beyond your goal. Both of these instances can be harmful to your body as inconsistencies in a workout does not help you in any way.
- Keeps Your Vitals In Check
Running watches often have heart rate and pulse monitors that let you know which heart rate zone works out best for you. This also allows your running watch to monitor your blood pressure and pulse, although there is some contention as to the accuracy of wrist-based blood pressure checks.
- Measures Your Distance and Maps It
Working out with a GPS running watch lets you measure your distance and map it as well. This is especially important if you like running over unchartered terrain or if you like exploring the woods. The distance gathered by the watch also serves as a reference point for your future workouts as it helps calculate your splits, as well as the calories you have burned over a period.
- Lets You Compete Without Competing
Another great advantage of wearing a running watch is that it lets you compete with yourself, especially with distance and speed monitors that provide you a history of past workouts which you can use as a baseline for future workouts. You can then condition yourself to do better than your best performance. Some watches even have apps that tell you of other users that have passed the same route, and it compares your stats against theirs, setting a competitive mood during regular workouts.
- Goes Beyond Being Just a Running Watch
Some running watches go beyond being just a watch for runners, their capabilities also let them seamlessly transform into a watch for other sports like cycling and triathlon. This enables you to compete on a higher level.
A Running Watch Buying Guide
Running watches have different features that boast of different advantages and benefits, with each model improving on the previous iteration and offering better features. Here are some that you can look for when figuring out which running watch you should buy:
Most running watches nowadays come with a form or two of waterproofing. This feature is highly important as the weather can be unpredictable, with the onset of climate change and all. Weatherproofing not only protects your watch against rain or immersion in water, but it also protects it from dust, sweat and even the sudden changes in temperature as this can wreak havoc in any electronic device.
A great running watch lets you set it to different modes, which in turn lets you use it for other sports without needing to invest in other watches. This saves you time and money in the long run, and the seamless transition between sports can also mean losing or winning during multi-sport competitions.
- Training Alerts
Another feature of running watches that you should look for is training alerts and notifications. This simple feature tells you if you are going below your usual speed, and it encourages you to do better. Some advanced watches even tell you if there is danger up ahead, like accidents and wildfires.
- Real-time GPS Tracking
The most relevant feature of running watches is its GPS capability. Not all GPS watches are running watches, but all running watches are GPS watches, as some would say. This feature helps with your performance tracking and route mapping for obvious reasons.
- Advanced Connectivity
This is an absolute must when it comes to features as you would want to be able to connect your watch to multiple devices to store data and let apps and websites do the analysis for you. Most running watches would come with a USB connector or charger while some would have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options.
- Heart Rate and Pulse Monitor
This is a handy feature that you can consider looking for in a running watch, especially if you have a heart condition that needs constant monitoring. Competitive athletes use data from this feature to identify which zone they should be in to get optimum performance.
- Music Playback
This is a nice-to-have feature. Some runners prefer to have music playing while they run, while others prefer the sound of nature instead. Running watches that have this feature usually would have an expandable memory that allows them to transfer over some music files for their workout.
- Phone and Messaging Capability
One of the newer features of running watches is being able to accept calls and reply to messages from your wrist. This is perfect for professionals and athletes who are always on call, like doctors, lawyers, and business owners.
What Running Watch Should I Buy?
Not all running watches out there can give you all the features that are listed here although there are some that include most, while some find a niche in one feature and develop their technology around that.
Choosing the right running watch for you involves a lot of thinking and listing down of benefits and advantages, as well as the price compared with the features they bring. Whatever it is you end up choosing, make sure that it has the potential to bring your running game to a whole new level.