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Choosing The Right Running Watch For You

 

 

Garmin-Forerunner-10-GPS-Watch

By Zac Marion

If you have yet to discover how GPS running watches can improve your workout routine, you’re in for a nice surprise. These effective tools of running can help improve your time, distance, and confidence when running. You can spend a lot or a little, depending on your needs, preferences, and your budget. Just like choosing the right shoes, the right clothes, and the right running path; choosing the right watch can make a big difference in your overall performance.

Whatever watch you choose in the end, it is most important that you know the differences between different watches in order to make an informed decision based on features and what you are specifically looking for in a GPS watch. I’ve outlined some features to help you make the best decision for you.

*THE BASICS*

Giving you an accurate count of your pace, speed, time (chrono), laps/splits, and distance are the basics. Knowing this more accurately will help you compile your training plans to reach new PR’s and train more efficiently. All GPS watches are capable of delivering this information, but some offer a lot more.

Virtual Pacer is another useful capability. This feature lets you know how far ahead or behind you are on your target pace for any particular run or race.

Some options include an online capability, most notably Garmin Connect. Garmin Connect is an online program that shows you maps of your runs with elevation, tracks your progress, creates fitness charts and shares your workouts online via Facebook.

Some basic watches come with an autolap option. This means that at a certain distance, your watch has the ability to take a snapshot of that interval. For example, you can autolap every 1 mile to get your training splits and see how each mile went for you during your run/race.

Here’s a list of the basic watches, their exact features and price;

Soleus GPS Watch

Price: $100.00

  • GPS basics (speed, pace, time and distance)
  • 100 lap memory
  • Estimate of calories burned
  • Rechargeable battery
  • 8 hour GPS mode
  • Autolap feature

Our Opinion:

Great watch… especially for the price. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. It also comes in some really awesome colors which make it great to wear around.

Timex Marathon 

Price: $105.00

  • GPS basics
  • 30 workout memory
  • 8 hour GPS mode
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Captures laps/splits with the push of a button

Our Opinion:

Another solid hit by Timex.Gets the job done and has good reliability. The price makes it an easy choice for someone looking for a good deal on a basic watch.

Garmin Forerunner 10

Price: $130.00

  • GPS basics
  • Virtual Pacer
  • Autolap
  • Water (sweat) resistant
  • Garmin Connect
  • PR memories
  • 7 workout memory
  • Autopause (GPS/timer stops when you stop and starts when you start again)
  • Rechargeable battery
  • 5 hour (GPS mode)
  • Run/walk features

Our Opinion:

Worth every penny of the $30 jump in price. You get a few extra features and Garmin Connect is a great tool to use. This GPS watch will help you keep track of your progress and keep you motivated. The band is also really lightweight and comfortable; great for small wrists!!! I loved the virtual pacer for training and races because it keeps me where I need to be.

*UPGRADED OPTIONS W/ HEART RATE MONITORS*

These watches will carry all the basics plus another really important option to many runners; heart rate (HR) monitor capabilities. A HR monitor is a sure fire tool for runners useful for measuring exertion and helping to set a steady pace more realistically and accurately. HR is the only way that your calories burned can be tracked accurately. However, some people do not have interest in heart rate training and the addition of a monitor usually increases the price of the watch. If you want to better know the benefits of training with HR, read this.

Interval settings are also another useful feature. This allows you to set up custom training sessions for your speed work whether its track intervals, tempo runs or fartleks that you prefer.

Another great feature offered by Garmin specifically is the Virtual Training Partner. She keeps you on track and never deviates from the plan. She’s super motivating and encourages you to perform your best. She’ll also tell you if you are off pace with pleasant chirp. It will be a love/hate relationship; you’ll hate her during training because she’ll work you hard, but you’ll love her on race day when you get a new PR! She’ll even hold your hand the entire run (get it! Hold your hand… because she’s a watch!).

Garmin Forerunner 210 w/HR or w/o HR 

Price: $199.99 w/o HR or $249.99 w/HR

  • GPS  basics
  • HR compatible
  • 1000 lap memory
  • Garmin Connect
  • Autolap
  • Interval settings
  • Water resistant
  • Foot pod compatible
  • 8 hour GPS mode
  • Rechargeable battery

Our Opinion:

Great basic GPS with HR monitor. The memory is also a great feature for looking at previous workouts without being in front of a computer. This is probably for your competitive runner who isn’t looking to win the race but wants to break some barriers or shoot for a Boston qualifying race.

Garmin Forerunner 610

Price: $400.00

  • GPS basics
  • HR monitor
  • 1000 lap memory
  • Garmin Connect
  • Autolap
  • Interval settings
  • Virtual Training Partner
  • Autoscroll (scrolls through various information during training sessions)
  • Water resistant
  • 100 favorite locations
  • Advanced Workout
  • Pace alerts
  • Goal met alerts
  • Vibration alerts
  • Training effect
  • Customizable touch screen.

Our Opinion:

Holy cow Batman! Yes, it’s a hefty price tag. But you are paying for the Virtual Training Partner and a handful of comfort features. The touch screen is nice and easy to use and the watch looks pretty sleek. My favorite feature is the training effect, which measures your HR, distance and pace and calculates the effectiveness of your training run. This is for your gadget geek that wants all the extras or for your more serious runners who want the training effect, Advanced Workouts and Virtual Partner. You just might win a race wearing this bad boy.

*MULTISPORT OPTIONS*

If you happen to be a triathlete then you might be interested in a multisport watch. These watches offer the capability of not only monitoring your runs, but also tracking your other workouts as well. With multiple sport modes, you can change from swimming to biking to running with just the press of a button. These are usually top of the line GPS systems that offer all the bells and whistles. Here are your two options available in this category.

Polar RC3 GPS

Price: $350.00

  • GPS basics
  • HR monitor
  • Multiple sport screens
  • Bike accessory compatible
  • Waterproof
  • 12 hour GPS mode battery
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Back to Start feature
  • Polar Sport Zones (target heart rates)
  • Training effect

Our Opinion:

Although not quite as equipped as the Garmin 910XT, it still serves its purpose.It’s a super sleek looking watch that can give you a great amount of information. The back to start feature is pretty unique in that the watch will help guide you back to your starting point whenever you want to turn around.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT w/HR or w/o HR

Price: $399.99 w/o HR or $449.99 w/HR

  • GPS basics
  • HR monitor compatible
  • Multiple sport modes
  • 20 hour GPS life
  • Rechargeable battery
  • 1000 lap memory
  • Garmin Connect
  • Virtual Training Partner
  • Virtual Racer
  • Autolap
  • Autopause
  • Training Effect
  • Waterproof
  • Swim analysis/stroke count
  • Power meter compatible
  • Customizable screens
  • Pace alerts
  • Automatic EPO distribution (not really, but you’ll feel like it!)

Our Opinion:

The only thing this watch doesn’t
 do is the race itself. If you are a triathlete wanting to improve your game, this watch will help get you there. It offers EVERY possible feature from Garmin. The swim analysis/stroke count is a totally innovative feature and actually counts your strokes AND pool lengths. Be prepared to get blown out of the water (by the watch, not your competition).

So there you go. Now that you have them laid out for you, finding the right watch is just a matter of determining what you want it to do. If you have any questions about what you should want or why, come see us. Happy holidays!

 

 

 

 

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