If in the market for a new running watch, there are a ton of choices to consider. So much so that actually making a choice to purchase can be a bit overwhelming. With the advancement in digital running watch technology, the features alone can drive you nuts. But there are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect running companion.

What Are Your Fitness Goals

The best place to start when choosing a digital running watch is determining what your overall fitness goals are. Are you training for a marathon or just looking to run a few times a week? By answering these questions you can greatly reduce the options and features you'll want to consider in your new watch.

If you'll looking for a more simple running watch, you can still get one with many advanced features yet still looks nice to wear on a day-to-day basis. This type of watch gives you the best of both worlds. The more advanced watches (such as those with GPS) tend to be a little bulkier thus looking less stylish to wear around the office or when around town.

The Marathon Runner or Those with Serious Fitness Goals

polarIf you're training for a marathon, you'll definitely want something that will track a lot of information to help you reach your training goals. Some of these features include distance, pace, time, calories, and possibly heart rate. But even within those features you'll be presented with a huge variety of brands and options.

The next thing to consider is whether you'll want something with GPS tracking technology. Although these can be a little more expensive, they offer a lot of advanced features that will help you track all your fitness goals. Some common brands of GPS running watches are Gamin and Polar. One great feature of these watches is the ability to upload the data to online sites where you can track, report, and share fitness goals and progress with friends and family. Such sites have harnessed the expanding popularity of social networking with their customers desire to share fitness goals.

The heart rate monitor is also becoming something sought after for fitness enthusiasts of all levels. However, if looking at a heart rate monitor, keep in mind that the ones using a chest strap work the best. There are less expensive heart rate monitors that detect the pulse on the wrist, but they're known for not being as accurate as the monitors utilizing a chest strap.

The Weekend Warrior

If your running and fitness goals are a little more modest, say you're just looking to live a little healthier and get in a few runs a couple days a week; a running watch with a few less features may be what you need. Some less featured models however still come with quite a few options for the runner. Many of these utilize a pedometer which measures your step and pace. Often these require some type of calibration to sync the device with your individual step length in order to be accurate. Although you can spend just as much on a less featured watch, you'll also find many that are fairly reasonable. For example, the Timex Ironman has been a stable running watch owners for many years and comes in all styles and price points.

If you're not interested on a watch at all, you can also opt for a simple pedometer by itself. These are normally small devices that clip to your hip or have a shoe pod that detects your stride and keep track of things like distance and pace.

Regardless of your running or fitness goals, there's definitely a digital running watch out there with all the features you desire. If you're not sure what features you'll need, consider purchasing one with a few extra as you will have the chance to grow into the features if and when your fitness goals change.