Framingham Personal Trainer

best running watches | marathon running gear

Interested in finding the best running watches?

We've enjoyed several types.

And, our running buddies have experienced even more.

Share your stories about watches and other running gear here.

Best Running Watches: The Top Choices

As technology has improved, and consumers have continued to adventure, several companies have found themselves to be leading the charge where it comes to the selection of best running watches.

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We're excited to share those we've found to be of great use, and those many have found to be among their top choices, too.

Best Running Watches: Garmin Running Watches

Through our years of traditional running, obstacle course racing, ultramarathon racing, and multi-day racing, we've used Garmin running watches more than any other brand of watch.

Heart Rate Monitoring

What led us to these watches, initially, was the wrist-based heart rate measuring feature.

heart rate zoneWe love heart rate zone training.

There will be some who say that there are inaccuracies in this style of measurement.

Whenever we've found odd readings related to heart rate, we've done a master reset of our watches, and the issue was resolved.

Thankfully, this hasn't happened during a race. It wouldn't be the end of the world if it did, but it wouldn't be that much fun, either.

For those still concerned about overall accuracy of heart rate readings, we'd recommend adding a chest strap accessory where it is offered.

Some people find these to be cumbersome, but if accuracy is what is desired, a little discomfort is little price to pay for that level of detail.

Our First Garmin Running Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 235 was the first Garmin running watch we'd chosen for our adventures.

At that point, though we'd grown up participating in many sports, we weren't competing in much beyond traditional running.

Bicycle races, triathlon races, and other training and racing activities weren't high on our list of items for which we needed specific data tracking.

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And, though we usually have our phone in our pack when training (not as often when racing, unless deep in the woods), it was nice not to have to carry our phone in-hand to acquire all the data that our watch now would.

A quick syncing, of watch and phone, after our workout or race would upload the data to both Garmin Connect and to Strava, where we were able to analyze our efforts, and to track progress over time.

Tough Enough for Obstacle Course Races

The Garmin Forerunner 235 also stood up to the rigors of obstacle course racing.

spartan race citizens bank parkNavigating the cargo net obstacle at Spartan Race Citizens Bank Park.

Where we'd participated in both stadium (now stadion) races, as well as the more traditional, "mud runs," we were happy with its function and durability.

It even stood up to the mud it was introduced to, and the amount of water in dunk wall obstacles as well as in the underground mines outside of Pittsburgh in BattleFrog races.

It definitely earned its keep!

The one area of concern for this, and for others you might consider in the best running watches category, would be that they may not stand up to kettlebell training very well.

Even with correct catch or rack position, the impacts may be too much for the watch face or for the buttons of the watch. We've found it best to turn the watch around to the other side of the wrist.

Our Garmin Watch Upgrade

When our training and racing interests began to include bike races and triathlon racing, we knew it was time to upgrade to a multi-sport watch.

garmin forerunner 735

Having enjoyed the features of our previous Garmin running watch, we knew we wanted to stay within the family.

After a bit of research, we decided upon the Garmin Forerunner 735.

Multi-Sport Capabilities

This watch actually had more activity features than we'd needed at the time.

And, it has allowed us to branch out into activities and sports that we might not have considered as soon.

Among the activities it is able to track:

  • Running (indoor / outdoor)
  • Cycling (indoor / outdoor)
  • Swimming (pool / open water)
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Paddle sports
  • Trail running
  • Hiking
  • Strength training
  • Triathlon (with one-touch transitions)

Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Customizable Watch Face

One of the other features that we believe makes this one of the best running watches is the ability to customize the watch face.

This is true for resting stage and for activity.

It is a bit like downloading an app, and selecting your preferred features.

We were fortunate to select one that allows us to see all the data we want during exercise, without having to continuously push buttons to toggle between metrics.

This definitely helps in saving battery life, and in the life of the buttons themselves.

Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Best Running Watches: Suunto Running Watches

Suunto running watches are another popular brand, in the running for best running watches.

A Finnish company, whose name translates to direction, they've built solid reputation in building precision equipment.

suunto running watches

Among their areas of expertise:

  • Dive equipment
  • Instruments
  • Sport watches

A Variety of Options

Similar to Garmin running watches, Suunto offers a variety of options.

Those exist with features and benefits to suit every level of runner or sport enthusiast.

From the more basic fitness watches to GPS-enabled watches, and watches suited for fishing or hunting, they also feature barometric altitude measurement for additional levels of data accuracy.

Movescount by Suunto

Whenever we've spoken with friends and fellow athletes who swear by Suunto, their raving usually turns to a focus on Movescount.

mountain running viewsWhere have you experienced your favorite mountain running views?

The Movescount platform allows users to engage within a community of athletes.

Activity logs may be shared and analyzed.

And watch features can be customized to fit the needs of the user.

User of Movescount are able to:

  • Follow progress - similar to Garmin's Connect IQ platform, users are able to save their activities, and review data over time, allowing for continued progression.

  • Plan training - with navigation-like features, and with record of popular routes established by other Suunto Movescount users, athletes are able to follow pre-established training routes, or design their own.

  • Make watch customization - dependent on your type of Suunto running watch, you'll be able to download specific software features for your preferred activities. Where the feature you're looking for might not exist, and if you have the know-how, you can upload those features yourself, making them accessible to the community.

  • Engage with the community - upload your "Moves," while supporting or competing with others doing the same.

Suunto 3 Fitness

run and jumpWhere will your adventures take you?

The Suunto 3 Fitness could be considered their entry level running watch.

With all the features included, you might be surprised by the level of quality for a base model.

Among those features, you'll find:

  • Adaptive training guidance: (week-long training plans developed on your selection of whether you want to maintain, improve, or boost your level of fitness)
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Sleep quality and tracking: (sleep summary includes measurements on length of sleep and how well your sleep is supporting recovery from activity)
  • Stress and recovery
  • Heart rate zones
  • Estimated wrist HR
  • Connected GPS
  • Water resistant 30m

Multi-Sport Capable

Additionally, for this being a base model watch, it is multi-sport capable.

With that, it may be a popular option for those whose activities also include swimming, biking, running, or the combination of all three in triathlon racing.

Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

The Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR has become popular among athletes participating in obstacle course races.

That may be a result of the combination of its name (popular in the OCR community), and its features.

Additional Features:

With all of the basics included with the Suunto 3 Fitness, the Suunto Spartan running watch is also:

  • Multi-sport capable
  • Wrist-based heart rate enabled
  • Barometric altitude efficient
  • Extended battery life equipped
  • Featuring over 80 sport modes
  • 100m water resistant
  • Weather trend and storm-alarmed

Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Suunto 9 Baro

The Suunto 9 Baro is currently the model with all of the bells and whistles.

Where ultramarathon and multi-day endurance and adventure racing come to mind, the Suunto 9's battery life is the feature we're reminded of most often.

With up to 120 hours of continuous exercise tracking, the user is able to establish the settings, and frequency of GPS "pings," such that battery life and data-collection will be fitting for the user's needs.

Where infrequent pings might limit the accuracy of data collected, Suunto's FusedTrack feature includes in that collection, previously known data, allowing for greater accuracy of route and data mapping.

Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

More Suunto Running Watch Options:

Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

Coros Running Watches

Coros running watches are newer to the endurance and adventure game.

running adventure

Despite their newness, they are quickly building a solid reputation among competitive and recreational athletes alike.

In addition to the more traditional use on roads and trails, their use is becoming popular among alpine athletes, where climbing is often the activity of choice.

Are You a Coros Running Watch Enthusiast?

Do you represent team Coros, as a wearer of their watches?

Tell us why they're your running watch of choice.

Share your Coros running watch story here.

We're always interested in learning more.

Who knows? Your review might just have us searching out the best running watches to place on our wrists!

Here are a Few of Those Coros Running Watch Options:

Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

What About Your Running Watch?

tell your story

With so many types of running watches out there, we know that there is more to learn.

Do you have a favorite running watch?

Tell us all about it here.

Be sure to let us know:

  • How you chose your running watch
  • Which features are your favorite
  • What sports you use it for
  • About your dream watch

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