From experienced runners seeking to smash a PB to those looking to kick-start a more active lifestyle, running with a GPS running watch offers countless benefits. If you’re unsure whether it’s a worthwhile investment for yourself or a loved one, here’s an overview of the main benefits and reasons why a GPS running watch can make a powerful training partner!
1. Real-time tracking
Ever felt like a run was never ending? With a GPS running watch, having your real-time stats right on hand helps you know exactly how your training is going! In-built GPS sensors record your pace, distance, time and calories burned. And you can alter the display to show exactly what you want to see during your run.
Customisable run/walk alerts mean that you can create and follow workouts whatever your level, and easy access to detailed statistics on pace, heart rate and distance travelled in each rep makes interval training easy! Your watch will keep you on track during easy runs too, with alerts for every mile/kilometre you conquer.
The tracking feature is also a great safety aspect, as you can share your location with family and friends through a wireless connection to your phone.
It can be hard to find the motivation to hit the pavements when you’re doing so alone, but with a GPS running watch you never have to be! Like any good training partner, it motivates you to get out there and keep going; pushing you to match or exceed your performance on previous days. Selected Garmin watches even feature a customisable virtual pacer so you can race against yourself!
There’s nothing more satisfying than looking back on your run and seeing what you’ve accomplished, and with Garmin’s free online tool, Garmin Connect, you can upload and view all of your activities in one place. Like Facebook, but for running, you can also link up with friends to create yourself a social community centred around sports.
As if friendly competition against both yourself and friends wasn’t enough, Garmin have installed some other nifty features specifically designed to keep you moving. 24/7 activity tracking monitors your steps and calorie burn, and optional ‘move’ alerts if you’ve been stationary for a period of time mean your GPS watch becomes the cornerstone of your active lifestyle.
3. Tracking progress towards a goal
If you’ve set a goal for your training – whether that be weight loss, a specific distance or goal finish time – a GPS watch will help you get there.
The wrist-based heart rate monitors in selected GPS watches provide an accurate picture of your energy expenditure throughout the day. Measuring your calorie burn against your calorie in take can help with body weight management, and the accuracy of the wrist-HRM helps you do this safely and healthily!
Monitoring your training and tracking the details of your runs helps you to see exactly where you are and where you’re going in terms of your goals.
You can clearly see if you’re on track to achieve specific results, for example, ensuring you’ve covered enough distance and ran at your target pace in training. Lap alerts also help you learn how to pace yourself correctly, and the ability to run even mile/kilometre splits will really help you hit your target times. Garmin Connect even offers training plans for all levels to help you train smart and smash your goals.
If you’re simply aiming to get fitter, a GPS running watch will help keep you on track. Technology in selected Garmin models calculates your VO2 max: a measure of your oxygen consumption and a great indicator of fitness. Garmin Connect compiles graphs of all your statistics – from sleeping patterns to daily steps to VO2 max – so you can clearly see your progress over time.
If you’ve been exploring your options for tracking your runs, you’ve probably come across the myriad of running apps on the market. Whilst these are a great option, the major benefit of a GPS running watch (beyond having your stats literally on hand!) is their accuracy. A GPS running watch is twice as accurate in readings of speed and distance – watch accuracy is about +/- 3 feet versus running app accuracy of +/- 6 feet.
Using GPS on your phone also drains your battery and many of the apps sap your data too. A Garmin watch battery lasts between 8-20 hours in training mode depending on the model, helping avoid the dreaded dying of your tracker half way through a long run!
5. Not just for running!
In recent years, running watches have been developed to cover all of your training: indoor, outdoor, running or otherwise. The multi-sport profiles provide custom tracking for cardio (gym equipment) sessions, treadmill running, cycling, swimming, golf and a variety of outdoor pursuits based on the model. The ability to personalise data fields means that you can display exactly what you want to see depending on whatever activity you’re doing, and all of these can be tracked on Garmin Connect, too.
If you’re serious about your cross-training, some more advanced models (for example the Forerunner 735XT) feature enhanced bike and swim modes. Specific cycling and swimming profiles and metrics include power readings, stroke type detection, drill logging and open-water metrics, to name but a few! ANT+ technology also allows for connection to power meters whilst on a ride, and the inclusion of GLONASS also enhances the accuracy of your swim tracking.
Which watch is right for you?
At Run4It we stock a wide range of GPS watches from Garmin and TomTom – at price points to suit every budget. Deciding on a model ultimately depends on what you want out of your GPS running watch, but to help you navigate the options we’ve outlined the basics of 5 very different watches in our Garmin range. Prices range from £139.99 to £479.99.
Forerunner 35 | The essentials
The Forerunner 35 watch provides all the standard features (pace, distance, time etc.) including the wrist-based HRM, and looks great whilst doing it! Slim and comfortable to wear and available in a variety of colours, this is a great option if you want all-day activity tracking and an easy-to-use running watch in one.
Forerunner 235 | The coach
The Forerunner 235 watch adds some more advanced training features to the standard metrics of the FR35, such as VO2 max estimates, recovery advisor, race predictor and pace alerts. Although slightly larger, the improved battery life and colour display mean this is also a great daily tracker. If you’re more serious about your training and are looking to reach the next level, this watch is an ideal choice.
Forerunner 630 | The PB chaser
The Forerunner 630 is the ultimate running watch – featuring all bells and whistles Garmin has to offer! The Forerunner 630 will take you through a guided lactate threshold test – the Holy Grail for a keen runners. With this metric you can discover precisely how fast you should be running and run each run at the right intensity.
The watch also measures how efficiently you’re running by recording ground contact time, balance, stride length and vertical movement. It’s guaranteed to help the serious runner really hone their sporting performance!
Fenix 5 | The adventurer
Garmin’s flagship Fenix 5 device really packs a punch with advanced fitness features and the optimum in multi-sport tracking. With built in altimeter, barometer and compass, advanced running dynamics, Auto Climb/Run sensors and the ability to customise multi-sport profiles for any activity, this watch will take you wherever you want to go, however you want to get there. With interchangeable straps to match your mood, outfit or activity, this watch truly is the ultimate multi-sport companion.
Forerunner 645 | The music maker
This is the watch that puts 500 songs on your wrist, so you can leave your phone at home! It provides Garmin Elevate wrist-based HRM, advanced running dynamics like ground contact time, vertical ratio, stride length, lactate threshold (when paired paired with the HRM-RUN strap). And wellness monitoring features like all-day stress tracking and a relaxation-based breathing timer help balance stress and rest.
Take the leap…
So, whether you’re looking to take your training to the next level or simply looking to keep a record of your adventures, a GPS running watch is the ideal training partner to get you out there and keep you going. If you want to take the next step, or have any questions left unanswered, pop into your nearest Run4It shop and a member of our team will be more than happy to help!