Best running watches to meet your fitness goals

Vigorous exercising, especially running, has well-described benefits. Whether you run to sweat or meet your fitness goals; tracking and monitoring your pace, distance and health is important. Running watches are an optimal and convenient way to monitor your daily regime. These smartwatches are specially made to be worn while running, whether indoors or outdoors, and to track associated metrics including time, speed, distance and in some cases even heart rate, O2 levels and sleep.

The data acquired by the watch can improve your running routine and eventually help you meet your fitness goals. Since the watches can connect with your smartphone, they allow you to leave the phone behind and receive calls, text messages and stream music during the run. Garmin currently dominates the running watch market, it is extremely popular among pro athletes. Leaving others including Coros and Suunto to carve out a niche for themselves to sell with the running community.

Surprisingly Apple, Samsung or other top technology brands have tried to present options in their flagship wearables, but with other choices on the market, an Apple Watch Series 6, for instance, has not impressed the runners so much, unless of course, you want to be in the Apple ecosystem. That said, what are the best smartwatches for running? We have rounded up the finest watches you can invest in today, read on.

Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE

Adding LTE technology to the company's most popular fitness tracking watch, the Forerunner 945, this new model offers powerful safety alerts and advanced athletic tracking all without hiccups, except for an eye-watering $650 price tag. The Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE sports watch delivers peace of mind to morning joggers, long-distance runners and even professional triathletes every day.

What We Like

- Decent battery

- LTE for emergency support

- Good visibility under sunlight

What We Don't Like

- Expensive

- Does not support voice calls or messaging

The watch comes with the ability to store your favorite music on Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer and playback offline. The GPS-enabled watch even packs in a pulse oximeter to keep track of your O2 levels along with other biometric indicators including heat and altitude tracking. Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE has a bright color display that reads well under sunlight and boasts a 2-week battery life without GPS, which curtails down to about 7 hours in GPS mode with music and LTE.

Suunto 9 Baro

Often underrated, the Suunto 9 Baro is a runner's watch that stands for its every-ready battery and swift touchscreen controls. When you have a goal in mind, you want a watch that can go the distance with you. Considering the Suunto 9 Baro's exceptional backup of up to 7 days with continuous GPS, this watch is going to go on and on, no matter where you take it.

What We Like

- Exceptional battery life

- Large watch face, premium design

What We Don't Like

- Expensive for lack of features and functionality

The Suunto 9 Baro isn't as equipped as say a Garmin, when it comes to music control or touch to pay on the go, it does include endurance modes that will come in handy when you're on a run. Complete with a barometer, the Suunto smartwatch has great utility onboard layered maps and comes for $499.

Coros Pace 2

Whether you're out on the track or on the treadmill, weight on the wrist can wear you down and make difference in performance. Enter 29g Coros Pace 2 (with nylon strap), which touts to be one of the lightest GPS watches on the block, letting you run with the watch unnoticed.

What We Like

- Lightweight and slim

- Impressive location tracking

- Competitive pricing

What We Don't Like

- Poor visibility in direct sunlight

- Limited features

Designed as your training partner for a long haul, the Coros Pace 2 has heavily improved in performance and storage over its predecessors to become one of the best-running watches out there. Featuring a crown-style dial the Coros Pace 2 has impressive location tracking ability, important for runners. Capable of running up to 30 hours on GPS, the watch has a good resolution display but is slightly disappointing in direct daylight (though switching the backlight on can make a drastic difference). The watch is priced at $200.

Garmin Instinct Solar

If you don't mind the look so much, Garmin Instinct Solar is one of the best smartwatches for running outdoors. This is largely because of its ability to never run out of battery – quite literally – so it can be there matching your stride for stride with Garmin-level tracking features.

What We Like

- A practical running watch

- Incredible battery life

- Ample sports tracking and navigation features

What We Don't Like

- Slightly heavy

- Not very attractively designed

Garmin Instinct Solar features Power Glass lens that keeps the watch charged in sunlight to extend battery life indefinitely as long as you're going to be running in the outdoors. In Battery Saver mode with solar charging, you may have to compromise slightly on the impressive spec sheet. But in general smartwatch mode, the Garmin watch can run for 24 days indoors and almost 2 months in the outdoor, which justifies its $400 price tag.

Polar Vantage V2

Replacing the original Vantage V – the Polar flagship – the new Polar Vantage V2 is a more capable, bigger, yet lighter alternative that is up there with the best running watches in the premium category with undeniable features and training modes. Starting out at approximately $500 without the Polar H10 heart rate sensor, which pushes the cost up by $50; the watch weighs 52g and being connected features music controls.

What we like

- Lightweight, premium design

- Running performance and recovery tests

- Connected music control

What We Don't like

- Expensive

- Limited smart features for its price

With running performance and leg recovery testing, the Polar Vantage V2 has focuses on recovery, training and wellness. It works with the complete Polar suite and comes in a smart aluminum case with a battery life that tops slightly above 40 hours. A special power-saving option boasts the backup up to 100 hours.

Final thoughts

These are our picks of the best running watches that match the needs of most users. If you're new to buying a smartwatch for your running routine, be sure of the kind of features you want from the watch and how much you are willing to spend on it. You can settle for an entry-level option if you only want to track the time and distance of your run. If you need the watch to provide fitness features, training modes and health monitoring such as heart rate or sleep tracking, you'll have to look at a premium running watch.

Battery life is another important aspect of a running watch. Since your watch should be running GPS for accurate route racking and have a bright display for effortless reading of data under sunlight, it should have a battery that lasts a few days at least. Once you have weighed these aspects, you should be able to determine a watch in your budget that covers these functionalities.