Running watches; there's a lot of them on the market and it can be hard to choose which one is best for you. So if you are new to running or it's just time for an upgrade, we're here to help.
Here are the best running watches in 2023 to aid in your training efforts. Run yourself to a new PB or even try to take that crown at the top of the leaderboard.
Why do I need a running watch?
Watches are a great way of capturing data before, during and after your activity so that you can easily assess your performance and training. A good running watch will track your run and help you progress towards a goal and stay motivated.
The top features to look out for are GPS, being able to connect to partner apps such as Strava and training tips, along with the basics of tracking your run pace and distance. These wrist gadgets are more than just a stopwatch and step counter and are much more convenient than trying to strap your mobile phone to your arm.
Best value GPS running watch
The COROS PACE 2 Premium GPS Sports watch is ideal for those just starting out as it accurately tracks your runs, is easy to navigate the different functions and is compatible with Strava. The battery lasts for ages, we're talking 30 hours in GPS mode, or up to 20 days of general usage. It's lightweight so doesn't feel bulky on your wrist and is also ideal for calorie tracking. All for under £200!
What running watches do the pros wear?
The Polar Vantage V2 is for those who want to track their activity with accuracy, and are looking for all the nitty-gritty data. The battery lasts for around 40 hours in GPS mode so is ideal for those tough training weeks. The Polar V2's 'Training Load Pro' feature is great to track how training is affecting different parts of your body and when you need to rest. Those who incorporate hill sprints and interval training into their sessions will find the 'Hill Splitter' function particularly useful as it provides detailed performance data about each split, not just 'you've bonked'. Of course, like all the other watches featured on this blog, the watch uploads your activity to Strava and if you're mixing up your week with cross-training, this watch is waterproof so you can track your swims too.
Best for music
Start each day with the Forerunner 265 and check out your morning report on the beautiful full-colour AMOLED display. Traditional button controls alongside the responsive touchscreen display make navigating through the training readiness features easy and intuitive. We're sure you'll fall in love with everything about this smartwatch - from the sleek appearance and premium fit to the impressive battery life and advanced performance data. Download songs to your watch, including playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music or Deezer (subscription may be required), and connect with your wireless headphones for phone-free listening.
We often get asked what running watches have Spotify and the Garmin Forerunner 745 allows you to sync 500 songs to listen to whilst you run using Bluetooth headphones. This is a great function for those who love to run to their favourite tunes and for those needing a little more motivation, the watch also has workout ideas such as intervals too - just hit start! As well as being able to connect to Strava, the Garmin Connect App can help with workout suggestions based on your current training load and VO2 max.
Best trail running watch
Trail running watches aren't too different from regular running watches except you need GPS or satellite tracking that you can rely on, and ideally you want a watch that can hack a bit of adventure when it comes to durability. The Suunto 9 is waterproof, the screen is tough so can handle a few knocks and scrapes and the battery lasts for 120 hours in ultra mode. It's ideal for taking off the beaten track thanks to special sensors which help to track your movement along with GPS, which is known to be excellently precise. The 'FusedTrack' feature really comes into its own as it corrects the GPS to more accurately track your distance, route and speed when running in dense areas that often interrupt the signal.
Best multi-sports watches
At first glance, the Garmin Forerunner 965 GPS Sports Watch is a beautiful bit of kit. Created with a crisp and detailed 1.4" AMOLED touchscreen display in full colour, it's ideal when using multi-band GPS and the built-in maps to check you are on the right track. The lightweight titanium bezel and dual-colour bands ooze quality while the touchscreen and traditional button controls allow you to quickly tap into your training status and make sure you are training productively. It offers 23 days of battery life in smartwatch mode and up to 31 hours in GPS mode. With myriad other features, the Forerunner 965 is easily one of the best smartwatches on the market today.
If you're a runner but partial to taking part in other sports, or you're making waves in triathlon, the Wahoo Element Rival is for you. The watch does all the regular tracking of performance that the other watches here do, but it also has a seamless transition function for triathletes who are competing, which is a pretty big deal. GPS tracking and long battery life mean you'll always know where you are but best of all, it's simple and intuitive to use so you won't be faffing around before a long run or ride.