GPS Watches

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Garmin Forerunner Nike Sportwatch Magellan Crossover TomTom Timex Ironman Polar

GPS watches have become an essential part of any serious runner’s collection of equipment. They’ve become as fundamental as appropriate running clothes and shoes. GPS watches collect a live stream of information about a runner’s speed, pace, heart rate, and distance that form an invaluable analytic base for training for particular distance races or general cardiovascular health.

By transferring the data collected by GPS watches to a computer, runners can form a database that can be analyzed to view progress over time. That’s the fundamental building block of running for exercise or speed. By using the full capability of the device, runners can also rely on GPS watches to direct them along their route, even in unfamiliar surroundings, so that they can concentrate fully on their performance.

NamePriceBattery lifeRating 
Nike+ SportWatch
Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom
Click for the Price8 hours3.5 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
Garmin Forerunner 220
(Includes Heart Rate Monitor)
Garmin Forerunner 220 - Black:Red Bundle
Click for the Price10 hours4.5 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
Garmin Forerunner 610
(Includes Heart Rate Monitor)
Garmin Forerunner 610 Touchscreen GPS Watch Black
Click for the Price8 hours3.9 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
Polar V800
(Includes Heart Rate Monitor)
Polar V800 runner GPS Sports Watch w: Activity Tracker & Heart Rate Monitor
Click for the Price14 hours4.2 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
Polar RC3
Polar RC3 runners GPS Watch - program
Click for the Price12 hours4.2 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
TomTom Runner
TomTom Runner GPS Watch Black
Click for the Price10 hours3.5 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
TomTom Multi-Sport
(Includes Heart Rate Monitor)
TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor
Click for the Price10 hours3.3 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
Magellan Switch Up Crossover
(Includes Heart Rate Monitor)
Magellan Switch Up Crossover GPS Watch with Mounts and Heart Rate Monitor
Click for the Price8 hours2.8 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews
Timex Ironman Run Trainer
Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 GPS Watch Black
Click for the Price8 hours3.3 / 5 starsFull Review

Customer Reviews

Why Don’t I Just Use My Smartphone?

Smartphones are indeed very versatile and useful devices. There are many software apps available for every kind of cellphone that can mimic the functions of GPS watches, and in some case can do them even better. Smartphones have bigger screens with very high resolutions, have louder built in speakers, and many other advantages over small devices worn on the wrist.

But a cell phone’s big value comes at a cost to runners. A cellphone is a fairly large and heavy device to lug around while you’re running, and runners have to be careful when carrying them so they don’t break them. Many runners practice or compete in all kinds of weather, and cellphones don’t do well in the rain. The beauty of today’s GPS watches is that they’re so small and light, and so easily worn on the wrist, that they don’t affect the runner’s performance.

Popular brands of GPS watches

There are a few manufacturers creating special watches for runners. Some are really rare and others are highly advanced, popular and used a lot by runners. These technical advanced GPS-based watches are the Garmin Forerunner, Timex IronmanNike Sport Watch but also the Polar watches and Suunto.

Sometimes You Need Competition

It’s a fact that runners run faster when they run in a race with other people than when they run alone. Seeing another runner in front of you appeals to your subconscious to catch them, and seeing one coming up behind you urges you to stay ahead of them. Using GPS watches when training alone allows runners to race against themselves by comparing data from previous runs to your current pace. By keeping constant track of every aspect of your performance, GPS watches turn your everyday training sessions into the equivalent of races, and boost the value of workouts.

GPS Watches Can Help Prevent Injuries

It’s easy to injure yourself while running. Runners in training, especially distance runners who favor GPS watches, need to keep a careful eye on the intensity of their running depending on the kind of workout they’re scheduled for on a particular day. Long distance runners often run every day, but schedule so-called recovery day runs between longer, faster, and more demanding runs. It’s easy for even experienced runners to overdo it on recovery days, and that can lead to injuries. GPS watches can monitor and guide runners to exactly the performance they’re scheduled for on any day. If you’re running for your cardiovascular health, but have been cautioned by your doctor about elevating your heart rate too much, a GPS watch’s built in cardiac sensor could even save your life.

Who Could Benefit From A GPS Watch?

  • Walkers and joggers – Even people who walk slowly for exercise can enjoy the benefits of measuring and recording their daily walks or jogs. Many GPS watches also have cardiac rate monitors that can help you achieve a good cardio rate while warning you if you’re overdoing it.

  • Beginning Runners – All real sports training involves the repetition of exercise over time while measuring the results to make improvements. Beginning runners need constant reassurance that their practice regimen is yielding results or they can get de-motivated. GPS watches make it easy to track your progress and keep going.
  • Serious Runners – Serious runners have to work hard to get see even minor improvements in their performance, and without accurate data that breaks down workouts and races into their component parts, it’s hard for them to see if they’re making progress during trainings.
  • MarathonersLong distance runners have always had to keep a lot of information in their head for hours at a time while still trying to concentrate on simply running. GPS watches give marathoners and other long distance runners the kind of feedback that only a coach running alongside could offer, plus heart rate and other data that’s invaluable to your performance.

Things To Look For When Shopping For GPS Watches

There are many factors that could affect your decision when purchasing a GPS watch. There are more models from more makers than ever before, and the amount of features some watches come with can make your choice difficult if you’re not sure exactly what you want your watch to do for you. Here are the most important things to look for when buying GPS watches:

As Always, Size Is The Primary Consideration

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the first runners that wore GPS watches. They were huge devices, bigger and heavier than a standard smartphone. They weren’t really worn on the wrist as much as strapped to your forearm, and they were big enough to affect your gait. Eventually they morphed into a recognizable watch shape, but they were more like a hockey puck you wore on your wrist than a true watch. These hardy pioneers knew the value of the hard information that GPS watches could provide, so they suffered through the early stages of the device development, and manufacturers quickly brought the size and weight down while continually expanding the features GPS watches could provide.

There’s A Limit To How Small GPS Watches Can Get

Modern GPS watches are barely bigger than a regular running watch, and comfortable to wear and easy to operate while running. These watches will continue to get slimmer and lighter, no doubt; but GPS watches will never be as small as a conventional watch because it would be too difficult to read the information displayed on the watch face.

Readability is the second-most important design attribute for GPS devices, and it’s tied to the size of the device. No matter how small GPS watches get, it’s vital that the device display the information you need in easy-to-read form with a minimum of fuss to call up. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to do more than turn your wrist a bit to see the information displayed on the watch. Many GPS watches can deliver so many forms of information while you’re running that they need menus to choose what’s being displayed at any one time. It’s essential that these menus be intuitive and easy to operate while running so your quest for information doesn’t affect your time.

Audio And Vibration Alerts Expand Usability

Many GPS watches use vibration or audio alerts to make it easier for users to concentrate on running. If you’d like your watch to tell you when to drink or eat, or when to pick up your pace or slack off, look for models with multiple programmable alerts that can keep you notified without constantly checking your watch.

Look Out For Connection Speeds

GPS watches aren’t always on like many devices, so when it’s time for a run, you’ve got to boot it up and wait while it finds and locks onto a satellite. The amount of time this takes can vary widely from device to device. If you’re the sort of runner that doesn’t like waiting for even a few seconds before beginning your run, look for models with short boot times. Some newer GPS watches have a pre-cache of satellite location data and find their target almost immediately.

Software Can Make Or Break A Watch

If you’re purchasing your GPS watch with the intention of using it for heavy analysis of your collected data, you’ll be smart to look at the ease of use of the software that accomplishes this important task. Be aware of the method of uploading and downloading data to and from your watch, too. Some have wireless connections that can be quite easy to use, but require you have particular computer setups to use, while others have standard USB cables that will connect to almost anything. If you’re not interested in heavy-duty data analysis, you might do better with a less robust software package that has less of a learning curve but still serves all your needs.

Cadence Counters Guard Against Blackouts

Some higher-end GPS watches come with cadence counters that work along with your GPS information to very accurately measure your pace and progress. These counters are usually small, button-sized transponders that go in your insole or tie to your shoe. By measuring footfalls instead of your progress via satellite positioning, they keep on counting your progress when you run underneath any obstruction that blocks satellite service, like long tunnels. If you often run where there are obstructions, you’ll appreciate not having interruptions in your data.

Run More Smoothly With Smoothing

Look for whether your data is smoothed before it’s displayed on your watch as well. If your device averages a few seconds or more of data before you read it, it will fix the problem of a runner’s tendency to slow down when reading their watch. It’s a small but important detail if you want very accurate real-time data.