Following these guidelines will help you select the best GPS running watch for you.
One of the latest and best technology breakthroughs to hit the running world is the GPS running watch. If you’ve never used such a device before you may not realize how great an impact on your running it can have. Though they are quite a bit more expensive than most running watches, when you consider what you get it is really a great deal. Still, before plunking down $150-175 for a running watch it is a good idea to understand what to look for and make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your bucks!
These are some of the key features that you should look for when selecting a GPS running watch:
- Wrist-mounted, watch like – obviously this is what we’re going for. Not a hip device or something that goes in the pocket, but a watch that knows where you are.
- Precise Speed, Distance and Pace Data – Newer models are pretty accurate, and future models are sure to be even better.
- Training Center Software to download workout data – Is the data the watch collects only available on the watch, or can you load the data to your computer with some software? How easy is the software to use, and how accessible is your training data? Can you upload anything to the internet? Also, how easy is it to connect the watch to your computer. Most have a USB-enabled connection.
- Use with multiple sports – Is this watch only good for running, or can it be used for biking, swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, you get the picture.
- Memory storage (at least 1000 laps) – How much data can be stored on the watch before it must be offloaded.
- Battery Life – If you are a marathoner, you will probably need the battery to last at least 3 hours, maybe longer. But it would be nice if you didn’t have to charge it after every run. Also, how fast can the battery be charged?
- Heart rate monitor - A number of GPS watches include a heart rate monitor. This really makes the watch a great deal, assuming it all works well! How accurate is the monitor. How comfortable is the heart rate strap?
- Is it waterproof? – Even if you don’t plan to swim with it, chances are you will be out in the rain sometimes. Some brands/models of these watches do not work well in the rain.
- Customizable Data Screen – The best watches allow you to select several fields from a long list that you can display on the watch screen.
In addition to the above features, there are some other things to consider. You want the watch to be comfortable enough to wear on long runs. The display needs to be readable even when it is covered with rain drops or sweat and you are bouncing up and down. It needs to be able to connect to satellites relatively quickly and maintain connection without a lot of interruptions. It needs to measure accurately, be easy to recharge and easy to connect and download information for the running log. A good night light feature is helpful, too. The Garmin Frontrunner 305 has a light that, once you turn it on it will pop back on for a few seconds at the completion of each lap so you can check your progress.
Deciding which watch is best is debatable, and will change over time. However, I recently reviewed the watch that I believe is the best one, and you would be hard pressed to find a better one. It has been regarded as the best watch since it first came out several years ago. Even newer models have really paled in comparison. Take a look at this article, and then look at the reviews online before you decide which one you want.