If you’re like most people who use their smart phones to track their workouts or other activities, you’ve probably seen a running watch advertised on the screen. But if you aren’t sure what you want or need, it can be difficult to know which watch is right for you. Before you buy one, consider these questions that will help you make the right choice. They should help you determine whether a running watch or heart rate monitor is right for you.
Is a running watch or heart rate monitor really necessary? Heart rate monitors have come a long way since they first hit the market, but even the best models are no match for the real thing. When you exercise regularly and know what you’re going to get out of a session, a heart rate monitor isn’t really necessary unless you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly how much exercise you’ve done. If you don’t want to take the chance, skip the idea of a heart rate monitor altogether.
Will a watch’s battery life run out before you reach your destination? If you’re just running a few miles today and tomorrow you plan to run more, you should consider buying a model with a long battery life. However, if you’re an intense runner or simply use your watch to track how far you’ve gone, a battery life that lasts a few weeks may be more than you need. Consider getting a model with a removable battery that you can recharge on your own.
How accurate is this running watch? Smartwatches and heart rate monitors have been improving since they were first introduced to the market. Manufacturers are now including GPS navigation systems and running modes in their devices to allow runners to optimize their workouts based on where they are in the course and their personal instinct for whether the course is easy or not. If your instinct tells you there’s no way around a tight curve or steep incline, don’t waste your energy – go straight ahead!
Is it waterproof? If you’ll be out running in the rain, waterproofing your device will probably be a top priority. Models with water-resistant up to a 50 mile range usually come with a warranty, but just in case, don’t buy one without a guarantee. Look for gps running watch with an active layer of water resistance. Swimmills and exercise pools may work for some, but this may not be enough to protect your new accessory.
Will you need both heart-rate monitoring and a running watch? With advances in technology, many models include both functions, so make sure you choose a model that lets you record your workout history and gauge your heart rate during your exercise routine. Some models allow you to simultaneously record your workout stats and keep track of your heart rate during your actual run, meaning you can get great splits and effort readings.
Will your companion app to provide additional information or motivation? A big-time running watch maker such as Forerunner has developed its own companion app. The forerunner 945 lets you access information from your run in real time through its mobile Android browser and Apple iOS apps. With this companion app, you can optimize your workouts or keep track of your training load by analyzing your performance in relation to preset goals. This means that you won’t need to constantly refer to your guide or map as you run, saving you precious time.
Is your heart rate monitor appropriate? Smartwatches such as the Garmin Forerunner 945 have integrated heart rate monitors into their features, allowing you to view your average heart rate over a full workout session or in a certain range (i.e. over 75% of maximum). Some smartwatches have also integrated GPS so you can determine your location on the map, which is useful if you’re venturing out on long runs or tours.