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The Best Smartwatches for Runners

Three different running smartwatches.

Every runner looking to improve their metrics needs a good, sturdy smartwatch they can count on. With new gadgets coming out seemingly every week, though, it might be hard to figure out which smartwatch is best for you. That’s where we come in!

Whether you’re about to sign up for your first 10k, or you’re a seasoned distance runner who’s interested in improving their pace, a good smartwatch is a great investment. You can learn a lot about your running trends, from pace and cadence, to VO2 max and even your lactate threshold.

While some of these metrics might not be as important to beginners, they all contribute to your overall running style and technique. Depending on the type of running you do, there are different smartwatches on the market that will best suit your needs. These are our top picks.

Best Overall: Garmin Forerunner 245

The display of the Garmin 245.

The smartwatch that seems to be best for everyone who loves to slap on some running shoes and hit the road is Garmin’s Forerunner 245. It has impressive health and performance tools and extra features including:

  • Measuring your VO2 max
  • Running dynamics
  • Pulse ox sensor (blood oxygen monitoring)
  • Daily suggested workouts
  • Built-in training apps,
  • Extra storage for music so you can leave your phone at home

The battery life is around 6 days in GPS mode and it falls somewhere in the mid-price range, so it isn’t as pricey as some other popular versions on the market.

Best Budget: Garmin Forerunner 55

Garmin Forerunner 55 display on a person's arm.

If you’re looking for something that has all the tools you need without compromise accuracy or efficiency, and won’t break the bank, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is your best choice. It has all the performance and health tools you need, including a Pace Pro feature.

You’ll get GPS-based pace guidance for a selected course or distance, which makes planning your daily running route a breeze. It’s also great for those who want to stay on budget and don’t need a ton of detailed performance tools.

Best Budget

Best for Triathletes: Garmin Forerunner 945

New garmin 945 displayed on a ledge.

This might be starting to look like a Garmin roundup, but that’s no surprise—after all, the company has been at the top of the sports tracking game for years.

Triathletes need a good watch that can seamlessly transition from swimming to running to cycling, and provide those all-important metrics the whole time. The Garmin Forerunner 945 has it all. It tracks every possible health and performance metric, including the following:

  • VO2 max
  • Cadence
  • Lactate threshold
  • HRV stress
  • Sleeping performance
  • PulseOx
  • Body battery monitoring

It also features the most accurate heart sensor on the market, even underwater. If you’re a serious runner and/or a triathlete, this watch is absolutely everything you need and more.

Note: The newest LTE version also enables phone-free safety and tracking features, spectator messaging, and even live event sharing. It’s perfect for those who want to leave their phone at home.

Best Lightweight: Coros Pace 2

White running smartwatch on a woman's hand in front of a track field.

If you’re looking for something that’s super light on your wrist, look no further than the Coros Pace 2. It’s sleek, thin, and features all the tools a good running smartwatch should have. It has a long-lasting battery life and a custom night mode, which makes early morning or late evening runs easier to track.

The Coros Pace 2 even has a special Track Run mode, which makes dealing with GPS easier as running in circles can create tracking errors. It also offers a detailed strength training program and a “muscle heatmap,” which shows you which muscle did the most and least work during your session.

Best for Ultra-Long Distance Runners: Garmin Enduro

Garmin Enduro watch on a grey surface.

For those who really pack on the miles, the Garmin Enduro is the best possible choice. With a GPS battery life of up to 80 hours, you’ll never have to worry about running out of juice. Plus, the Power Glass solar charging lens harvests the sun’s energy, prolonging the battery life even more.

It’s compact and light, so you won’t even feel it on your arm. It also features all of Garmin’s best health and performance tracking tools, including, but not limited to:

  • VO2 max
  • Lactate threshold
  • HRV stress
  • Climb Pro (for ascents and descents)
  • Sleep monitoring
  • Phone notifications
  • Easy-tap payments

The only downside to this one is its price, which might not suit everyone’s budget.

Most Stylish: Apple Watch Series 6

Different colors of Apple Watches on a black background.

For the casual runner who wants their smartwatch to match their outfit, the Apple Watch Series 6 is the way to go. It features all the basic metrics and a good heart rate sensor.

However, it has a very short battery life (18 hours), so don’t expect to be able to go long distances without a full charge. Still, with all the cool, sleek colors, you’ll easily be able to transition from work to workout clothes.

Runners are always on the lookout for the best shoes, gear, and tips to optimize their fitness routine. Smartwatches are definitely becoming a staple in many runners’ toolboxes, and these models don’t disappoint.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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