As many of us have found since COVID-19 began to play havoc with the world and sent us into lockdown, running is a relatively cheap activity that requires little equipment to keep us fit and active but there are two pieces of equipment that can vastly improve what we get from our running experience; shoes and watches.
A basic GPS running watch can now track how far and how fast you are moving with pinpoint accuracy and many watches now include a whole array of features such as heart rate, sleep, training load and recovery - the higher end models even include nifty features you’d find on your phone like contactless payment (not that that would be too much help, eight miles into a half marathon, mind)
Here are our picks for the five best running watches on the market…
Polar Vantage 5, £342.99
An all-rounder that’s perfect for the runner looking to push their performance to the absolute limit. It’s heart-rate monitor is as good as you’ll find in a running watch and it also boasts some incredible advanced training and recovery features. It’s not the cheapest on the market but it will stand you in great stead for years to come.
Garmin Forerunner 45, £139.99
The ideal watch for the beginners. A successor to the incredibly popular Forerunner 35, the 45 is brilliant for structuring training with an easily accessible ‘Garmin Coach’ built in, it also includes a heart-rate monitor, GPS, water resistance of up to 50m and has impressive battery life for such a small watch.
On top of that, if you do find yourself getting lost on that first 5k run, there’s even a SOS function which is able to message up to three contacts via text or email.
Apple Watch Series 5, £399.99
This is for the runner who wants more bang from their buck and the Apple Watch Series 5 certainly delivers. It’s like having a smartphone attached to your wrists at all times. Packed with run-friendly features you’d find on any running watch such as heart-rate, GPS and an automatic workout detection feature, which might not sound that exciting, but believe us, there’s nothing worse than starting a run and finding out three miles in that you hadn’t informed your watch.
You’re not going to get the in-depth training insights you’d get with the Polar or Garmin but the ability to be able to listen to music, podcast or audiobook, with just your watch and a pair of bluetooth headphones and no cumbersome phone bouncing around in your pocket, is a gamechanger in itself.
Polar Ignite, £175
Billed as an all-round fitness watch rather than just a running specific one, the Polar Ignite’s biggest drawing point is its sleek, lightweight design, which at 35g, makes it incredibly comfortable to wear 24/7.
The battery life is quite short at just 17 hours but the training insights on the Ignite are second to none. Combining heart-rate and breathing data, the watch can actually indicate just how well your Autonomic Nervous System has recovered from the rigours of training, while the analysis of sleep is as good as you’ll ever find on a watch.
Coros Apex, £269.99
What’s the point in investing in a top of the line running watch if it spends most of its time on a charging dock? You won’t have such issues with the Coros Apex, which boast a mind-boggling 100 hours of battery life.
Simple to use and jam-packed with all the features you want from a running watch including a heart-rate monitor, GPS, recovery times and even a threshold pace estimate - the speed at which you can run for a long time without breaking down.
Coros aren’t the most well-known name in the world of running but this feature-rich watch would be a welcome addition to adorn the wrist of any runner.