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10 best running watches to help you go the extra mile

From measuring your heart rate to your cadence, distance covered and VO2 max (how much oxygen your body can use during exercise), as well as customising running routes and training programmes, the latest running watches are designed to ensure you stay on track - quite literally. Read on for our pick of the 10 best running watches for 2022.

By Tammy Jacks | Last updated Apr 21, 2022

woman using her running watch

While home workouts have become a thing during the Covid-19 pandemic, so too has running as research shows more and more people have laced up and taken to the streets or trails in a bid to get out the house, feel good and lose the dreaded ‘Covid kilos.’ In fact, according to World Athletics, those who have started running intend to maintain their newfound passion for the sport once the pandemic is over.

If you’re looking for simple wearable tech to capture all your data while out on a run, a new running watch could fast become your most reliable training buddy. While fitness trackers and smartwatches have their place, running watches are a step up for those who want more than a step counter. Whether you’re a fitness newbie training for your first 5k, or you’ve been running for years, you’re sure to find a running watch that best suits your needs.

In addition to all the latest features a running watch has to offer (think advanced GPS tracking, altimeters and oximeters), they’re also small, sleek and built to last. What’s not to rave about? With that in mind, we hopped onto the Mumsnet forums to find out which running watches have caught our users’ eyes this year. We also read countless tech reviews and conducted independent research to narrow down our search. 

Here are the best running watches for 2022. 

1. Best overall running watch: Garmin Forerunner 35

Garmin 35 running watch

Price: £146 | Buy now from Amazon

“I’ve got a Garmin 35 and it’s great! Quite a few of us have them in my running group. Very simple to use and it seems accurate. I would definitely recommend one.” Richlyfruited

“I'm very happy with my forerunner 35. Does exactly what I need - time and speed, has GPS. But it’s small enough so I can wear it all the time. Also syncs to your phone so you can see all your calls and messages.” KatharinaRosalie

“Another vote for Garmin - I've got a basic 35 but it still does everything I need. Battery lasts for ages and the Garmin Connect app is great too.” MrsRexVandeKamp

Although it was launched back in 2016, the Garmin Forerunner 35 is still a firm favourite among novice and experienced runners alike.

Firstly, it’s extremely simple to use and is more affordable than many of its competitors. Plus, it’s super light, weighing in at only 37 grams, and has all the features you need to accurately track each run or workout including a stopwatch and accelerometer that picks up your acceleration quickly and efficiently.

This running watch has five workout modes including walk, run outdoor, run indoor, bike and cardio, where you’d also save gym workouts, as well as yoga and Pilates sessions.

Garmin prides itself in advanced GPS capabilities such as distance, time and pace, and this watch has all that and more. It accurately records each mile (or km) split regardless of where you are and pairs well with your smartphone, instantly updating your workout history to apps such as Garmin Connect and Strava.

Additionally, this slimline watch is made with an integrated wrist heart rate monitor, so no need for a heart rate strap, and we like that it has an extended battery life of 13+ hours when it’s in GPS mode.

Pros

  •       Comes with free Garmin Connect App
  •       Good battery life
  •       Lightweight
  •       Can switch to backlight mode in early morning or at night
  •       Easy to clean silicone strap
  •       Has additional Find My Phone feature
  •       Compatible with iPhone and Android smartphones

Cons

  •       Heart rate can be inaccurate
  •       Limited workout modes
  •       Slightly smaller square watch face

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to nine days in watch mode; 13 hours in GPS mode
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: No
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: No
  •       Sleep tracking: No
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes

2. Best budget running watch: Amazfit Bip S Smart Watch

Amazfit running watch

Price: £49 | Buy now from Amazon

“I had a Fitbit years ago that barely got used but recently got an Amazfit. I’ve found it does help me move more.” PrancerandDancer

This budget-friendly running watch from smart wearable brand Amazfit is packed with great fitness features despite its low price point. Running-wise, it displays your speed (or cadence), heart rate and distance while making sure you stay within healthy limits thanks to the in-built excessive heart rate reminder and the resting heart rate function.

It also boasts 14 additional sports modes including elliptical trainer, open water, freestyle (for things like dance), yoga, cycling and more - ideal if you’re into cross training between running days.

This running watch has a swim tracking function too, which allows you to record laps and distance and is water-resistant up to 50 metres. If you’re looking for a modern design, this watch gets a thumbs up for elegance.

Pros 

  •       Dirt-resistant wrist band
  •       Always-on display
  •       Includes an alarm clock
  •       Convenient touch screen

Cons

  •       Slightly thicker strap
  •       Basic running data
  •       No map routing 

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to 15 days
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: Yes
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: No
  •       Sleep tracking: No
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes

3. Best running watch for women: Coros Pace 2

Coros pace 2 running watch

Price: From £170.15 | Buy now from Amazon

Regarded as one of the lightest GPS running watches out there (which is ideal for women’s smaller wrists), the Coros Pace 2 may be slim and lightweight, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to running data and accuracy.

This watch is one of the few that measures total running power including vertical, lateral and horizontal power, so you can compare how well you fare on hill repeats or rolling courses from week to week. And, if you’re into speed training, you’ll appreciate the Track Run Mode which ensures your track sessions are measured accurately.

This watch also comes with a more precise optical heart rate monitor and is the perfect hiking companion thanks to its additional outdoor features including a compass, barometric altimeter (which measures altitude by calculating your location’s air pressure), a gyrometer to help you measure stride times and speed, as well as a thermometer to check your body temperature in extreme weather conditions. In a nutshell, it will help to get you home safely should you get lost.

The Coros Pace 2 doesn’t fall short on lifestyle features either. This watch has a variety of exercise modes allowing you to track everything from reps to muscle groups worked and includes sleep and calorie counting for overall wellness. Structured programmes and plans, created by Coros athletes and coaches are freely available through the Coros App.

At under £200, we think it’s great value for money considering you’ll save on additional running plans and at-home workout subscriptions or personal trainer fees. 

Pros

  •       Advanced GPS system
  •       Measures running power in watts
  •       In-built personal trainer
  •       Automatic night mode
  •       Waterproof and sweat-proof

Cons

  •       Limited set-up instructions
  •       Inaccurate rep accuracy with weightlifting
  •       No touch screen

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to 20 days regular use and 30 hours in GPS mode  
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: Yes
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes
  •       Sleep tracking: No
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes

4. Most versatile running watch: Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit charge 4 running watch

Price: From £93.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I have a Fitbit Charge 4 and it’s great. It has a GPS tracker which tracks your route, calories burnt, times per km/mile and steps taken. You can also track up to about 30 workouts such as cycling, weightlifting, swimming and some of them have great features like interval training. The watch vibrates to tell you it’s time to work or rest. You could also take part in Fitbit challenges if you wanted and link in with other users. From a basic level, you can use it as a step counter, but it does a lot more.” ShirleyPhallus

Avid Fitbit fan? Then you’ll love the Fitbit Charge 4 which has a GPS tracker and a heart rate monitor, with dedicated heart rate zones to let you know which zone you’re training in. Plus, you can see who’s calling your phone via the caller ID on the band. Stats are synced wirelessly to your phone, so no cables are needed, and you can view all data through the Fitbit app.

Other convenient features include a calorie and step counter, weather updates, deep and REM sleep stage analysis with a sleep score function, plus a range of personalised workouts to choose from. While it doesn’t have all the running features that some of our other recommendations do such as mapped routes or compasses, it’s great for beginners looking for basic walking and running stats.

Pros 

  •       Unisex design
  •       Change up the style with a variety of straps
  •       Links to your Spotify account
  •       Can be used for swimming
  •       Displays workout intensity map after each session

Cons 

  •       GPS can take a little while to connect
  •       Battery needs to be above 80% to record longer workouts (more than two hours)
  •       Limited battery life
  •       Only links to Spotify

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to seven days (less in GPS mode)
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: Yes
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes
  •       Sleep tracking: Yes
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes 

5. Best trail running watch: Garmin Fenix 6S

Garmin Fenix 6 running watch

Price: £357.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I run remotely and have a Garmin Fenix 6S which is a dream watch. I upload maps onto it and can run all day. I started with a Forerunner which was great until I wanted to explore more.” Therehavetobeadjustments

If you’re looking for the ultimate running watch that can be used for both on and off-road running, the Garmin Fenix 6S has it all. Yes, it’s pricey, but it’s jam-packed with smart running features and a reliable sensor set including accurate heart rate measuring and a pulse ox that measures the saturation of oxygen in your bloodstream.

Plus, it has a range of useful navigation tools should you be out on a trail run or hike including a three-axis compass, a gyroscope for enhanced distance and direction estimates, and an air pressure barometer to let you know if there’s less air pressure, which may make it more difficult to breathe. It’s also designed with more sophisticated mapping and a global navigation satellite system rather than standard GPS, which is useful for any route you plan to try. 

You may be wondering if this running watch is only suitable for hikes and trail runs. The short answer is no – it’s also ideal for road runners looking to measure things like overall distance, split pace per km and ascent, as well as training load balance, which is a useful guide to assist recovery by recommending lower intensity activities after a hard run or even a bike ride.

One of the best features of this running watch is that it can measure just about any activity you choose to do including triathlons, skiing, golf, snowboarding, strength training, cardio (such as the elliptical trainer or stair climber), yoga, and a range of cycling and running options including mountain biking, hiking and treadmill running.

Pros 

  •       Always-on 1.2-Inch sunlight-readable display
  •       Large stainless-steel screen for better navigation
  •       Detailed map display
  •       Exceptional battery life
  •       Garmin Pay feature for contactless payments
  •       Includes customisable power manager to make battery-extending changes

Cons

  •       Heart rate readings can vary
  •       May not be compatible with all headphones
  •       Sleep tracking not always accurate
  •       Pricey

 Key specs

  •       Battery life: Around 150 hours in full GPS mode and up to 34 days in normal mode  
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: Yes
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes
  •       Sleep tracking: Yes
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes 

6. Best running watch with music: Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

Garmin 645 running watch

Price: £169.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“The Garmin 645 with music is slightly older than the newer 245 but is a higher model and has all the things you need, plus more.” Sammy867

“I have a Garmin forerunner 645 Music, so I could leave my phone at home. It connects to my headphones via Bluetooth and plays Spotify playlists and podcasts, which you have to download over Wi-Fi before you set out, if you have a Premium subscription.” DecayedStrumpet

Another favourite in the running community, the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music offers the perfect balance of price and features. If you’re motivated by upbeat tunes while running, this watch is a good choice as it can store up to 500 songs that you can listen to via Bluetooth, so no need to bring your phone along with you.

It also syncs music from select streaming services including iHeartRadio, Spotify and Amazon Music to name a few. Set-up is simple. Step one is to create a music account, then use the Garmin Connect app to connect to wifi on your watch so that you can download your music channel of choice, which takes just minutes to complete. Use the music widget or hold the ‘down’ key for instant access to all the music channels on your watch. 

As a training tool, this watch measures cadence, stride length and ground contact time to help you assess and improve on your running form, while additional features like Training Status automatically evaluate your recent exercise history to let you know if you’re training productively or overtraining. 

Pros

  •       Small, lightweight design
  •       Offers audio cues and updates during runs
  •       Large music storage capacity
  •       Wide range of running features  
  •       Connects to a range of wireless headphones  
  •       Good battery life
  •       Strong vibration alarm clock
  •       Garmin Pay feature for contactless payments

Cons

  •       Heart rate readings can vary
  •       Doesn’t have a touchscreen
  •       Battery life isn’t as good as other Garmin models

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to seven days in smartwatch mode; five hours in GPS mode with music
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: Yes
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes, through the Garmin Connect app
  •       Sleep tracking: Yes
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes

7. Best simple running watch: Apple Watch Series 6

Apple watch series 6

Price: £319 | Buy now from Amazon

“I’ve got an Apple Watch. It’s very easy to use. Just tap ‘exercise’ then ‘outdoor run’ and you can either set the number of miles, minutes or calories, or you can have an open run. However it isn’t cheap and you need to have an iPhone too.” SimonBridges

“I love my Apple Watch. I use a running app and it just plays it from my watch and it tracks all my data, plus I can play music through it. It means I just put my Bluetooth speakers in and go.” Calvinsmam

If you’re entrenched in the Apple ecosystem (iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc) and are looking for a smartwatch that has some impressive running features, then the simplicity that comes with the Apple Watch Series 6 is unmatched. This running watch has a sharp always-on feature, allowing you to see your stats easily while on the move, plus it measures a range of activities including running, walking, cycling, yoga, swimming and dance.

The GPS tracking has seen a welcome update from previous models, and in true Apple form, the watch is packed with great wellness features including an activity tracker, sleep monitor, ECG app to check your heart rhythm and SpO2 sensor, which measures your blood oxygen levels.

Pros

  •       Charges faster than older models
  •       Sleek, durable design
  •       Responsive touch screen
  •       Syncs well to third party apps such as Strava, Runkeeper and iSmoothRun
  •       Upgraded GPS
  •       Includes plenty of wellness features

Cons

  •       Some reviewers find it too pricey
  •       Can only be paired with an iPhone
  •       Limited battery life

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to 18 hours
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: Can sync to music apps such as Spotify
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes
  •       Sleep tracking: Yes
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes

8. Best watch for running and cycling: Polar Ignite 2

Polar Ignite 2 running watch

Price: £167.44 | Buy now from Amazon

“I just got a Polar Ignite and love it. It’s a multisport watch, but I’ve done some running with it and it seems pretty good GPS-wise. For the price, it’s fantastic. I am a data nerd and love the Polar Flow App.” Strandliv

Known for their efficient sports tracking and training analysis, it’s no surprise that Polar has created a range of reliable, high-tech sports watches. The Polar Ignite 2 is not only sleek and functional with interchangeable wrist bands (sold separately), it’s also lightweight with an easy-to use touchscreen and a series of brilliant running, cycling and wellness features such as built-in GPS, music controls, weather forecasts to help you prepare ahead for outdoor runs and rides, plus suggested workouts based on your fitness level and training history.

Whether you’ve completed a run, bike ride or gym session, the overview of your training week displays total distance, number of training sessions, total calories and optimal heart rate zones. The accurate heart rate sensor also allows you to display your heart rate on connected apps, treadmills and cycling computers.

From a wellness perspective, we like that the watch has a nightly recharge function with suggested workout options in the FitSpark section depending on how well you’ve recovered overnight.

The nutritional breakdown function displays how much fat, protein or carbs you used to fuel your workout, however this is just a basic guideline.

Pros

  •       130+ different sport profiles
  •       A great all-rounder
  •       Sleek unisex design
  •       Detailed sleep tracking
  •       Customised workouts
  •       Connect to free Polar Flow app

Cons

  •       Fabric wristband can get dirty quickly
  •       Controls can be fiddly
  •       Doesn’t display resting heart rate

 Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to five days in watch mode and 20 hours of continuous training time
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: Yes
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes
  •       Sleep tracking: Yes
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes

9. Best Android running watch: Samsung Galaxy Watch4 Classic

samsung galaxy running watch

Price: £273.20 | Buy now from Amazon

Where it falls short on looks, this running watch makes up for in practicality and ease of use, especially if you’re an Android fan. Made from lightweight aluminium, it feels light on the wrist and the watch face is simple to navigate.  

Hailed as a revolutionary feature, this running watch uses a three-in-one sensor to accurately detect optical heart rate, electrical heart (ECG readings) and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) which measures your body composition, so no need for an extra digital scale. It also comes with in-built GPS to measure pace and distance. If you’re keen to try out new routes, this  running watch comes with the pre-installed Google Maps app to help you find your way.

In a nutshell, the Galaxy Watch4 brings your smartphone onto your wrist with additional fitness tracking features you’ll love.

Pros

  •       Linked to a live message board for motivation, competition and social exercise
  •       Simple touchscreen for easy navigation
  •       Compatible with many Android apps        

Cons

  •       Plain-looking
  •       Limited battery life
  •       Not compatible with iOS

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to 40 hours with GPS
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: No
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes
  •       Sleep tracking: Yes
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes 

10. Best ultra-running watch: Suunto Ambit 3

Suunto 3 running watch

Price: £169.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“I really like the Suunto. I have an Ambit 3 Sport. Previously had a basic Garmin. I don't generally do any further than 15 miles due to time constraints. It comes with a HR strap and that's the only thing I'm using less than I thought I would. Lots of data to analyse if you like that sort of thing! The route navigation is very good. Haven't used it much but it's quite easy to use.” Ridiculouslyso

If you’re really into your running, then another great watch to take note of is the Suunto Ambit 3, which is designed and manufactured in Finland. This unisex design is slightly chunkier and more masculine than other running watches, but it’s made with a breathable wristband thanks to a series of tiny air holes as well as a large watch face for easy viewing.

This watch is ideal for running, swimming, cycling and low-key activities such as yoga, and uses stride-rate measurements to track speed and distance. It also has a comprehensive custom sport mode function that allows you to choose which data appears on each screen display.

For walking, hiking and running, this running watch has a useful Find Back function that can safely guide you back to your starting point should you get lost. We also like the interactive interval timer that can be tweaked according to interval types, duration or distance and number of times you repeat the interval. The auto pause function is also handy if you forget to stop your run when bumping into a friend. 

Various routes are also easy to create in the Movescount Suunto app or simply check out new routes on third party apps such as Strava or MapMyRun.

Pros

  •       Large screen for easy viewing
  •       Backlight display mode
  •       Stress and recovery monitoring
  •       Weekly training guidance  
  •       Accurate sleep and calorie tracker

Cons

  •       Poor heart rate accuracy
  •       Aluminium frame can scratch easily
  •       Takes longer to charge

Key specs

  •       Battery life: Up to 30 hours with GPS
  •       In-built GPS: Yes
  •       Music storage: No
  •       Waterproof: Yes
  •       Workout recommendations: Yes
  •       Sleep tracking: Yes
  •       Heart rate tracking: Yes
  •       Smartphone notifications: Yes

How do I choose the best running watch?

Once you’ve identified that a running watch will be a useful tool to help you up your fitness levels, train for that next race, record faster lap times and possibly map out new routes, the type of watch you choose will depend on your unique goals and preferences, as well as your budget.  

For instance, are you an ultra-runner looking for a durable, waterproof watch with a long battery life, or are you considering a simpler running watch that seamlessly syncs to your favourite music playlist or podcast while you go on that neighbourhood run? Here are a few key factors to consider before you buy:

Design

Are you looking for a rugged, robust style that can withstand any weather condition or do you prefer a lighter, prettier running watch that’s made with interchangeable wristbands such as the Polar Ignite 2? The overall weight of the watch, its face size and screen (touch screen or manual display with buttons) are also factors to consider. 

Running features

The more running features the watch comes with, the heftier the price tag. Some great running features to look for in a watch include built-in GPS, visual maps, accurate heart rate readings and in-depth analysis on speed and distance. Off-road running watches take it up a notch with features like barometer readings, gyroscopes, three-axis compasses, plus detailed ascent and descent data.

Lifestyle features

Most running watches resemble smart watches in that they include general wellness features such as sleep tracking, stress monitoring, calorie counting and have a variety of sport modes to measure and track more than just running. Another new feature is free personalised workouts, which save you money in the long-term.

Some premium models like the Apple Watch Series 6 also have sophisticated health monitoring features such as an ECG app to check your heart rhythm and SpO2 sensor, which measures your blood oxygen levels.

If you’re looking for a simple running watch without all these additional bells and whistles, a Garmin watch is a good choice as it’s more geared to running. We like the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music as it has all the running features you need, but with added music features and large storage capabilities for downloading multiple audio stations and apps.

Third party apps

Most running watches will integrate with third party apps like Strava, MapMyRun or Komoot, as well as indoor virtual running games like Zwift (you’ll just need an extra foot pod for this one).

Battery life if you’re an ultra-runner or enjoy getting out on the trails, it’s important to pick a durable watch with a long battery life such as the Garmin Fenix 6S. However, if you’re using your watch for all it’s lifestyle features and stick to shorter distances on the road, then a running watch that requires regular charging may be just fine for you. Running watches with a longer battery life tend to cost more.

What is the best running watch? 

There’s no doubt that Mumsnetters love the Garmin Forerunner 35, even though it’s slightly dated and not as pretty as some of the other running watches we recommend.

This watch is sturdy, reliable and simple to use with all the running features you need, plus workout modes to record a bike ride, cardio session or walk. It has advanced GPS features, even with its affordable price tag, and is Android- and iPhone-compatible. It also has an impressive battery life and is easy to clean post any sweat-session. Whether you’re a newbie or more serious runner, you can’t go wrong with this model.  

How we chose our recommendations

Our suggestions for running watches came from recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and from consumer reviews on the web. We consulted independent review sites for opinions about products to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of the best running watches.

Why you should trust us

Mumsnet has been helping make parents’ lives easier since 2000 and, in those years, we’ve seen, tried and reviewed thousands of products. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.

Want more product recommendations? Check out Mumsnet Reviews and Mumsnet Swears By

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