GPS Watches Offer Benefits for All Levels of Runners

A GPS running watch is often considered an essential piece of equipment for even less experienced runners, and the options available to runners when deciding on the best GPS watch to purchase abound. The basic function of a watch, of course, is to keep your time on the road or on the trails and to provide you with an idea of how fast you are going and how your pace is shaping up. That said, simply keeping the time is quickly becoming outdated as new technologies bring running watches up to speed. Of these, the most innovative and useful for runners is GPS (Global Positioning System) technology which, when included in a watch, allows the runner to both keep their time while keeping track of exactly how far they have run. This added element of location is key, as it allows for real-time, dynamic monitoring of the pace of a run.

With a GPS watch, it is no longer necessary to compute distances on maps or on the Internet, and you will no longer be working off of rough estimates of distances. Instead, running GPS watches make certain that you will always have verified, extremely accurate distance measurements wherever you run. This makes it easy to change strategies even in the middle of the run if, for example, you notice that your pace has dropped or you have run a longer or shorter distance than you had planned. Overall, GPS watches deliver flexibility and myriad technological benefits to users that make them a very attractive alternative to the standard digital watch.

Finding The Best GPS Watch For Your Running Goals and Needs

Once the decision to purchase a GPS compatible watch has been made,there remains many decisions as to which watch to buy. There are many different options at different price points, and some that offer more advanced features than others. The basics are included with every watch: you will be able to track your distance and pace quickly and easily. There are other more advanced features, however, such as the ability to program training goals and pace notifications, that may be more suited to certain kinds of runners or personal preferences. Whatever watch you choose in the end, it is most important that you know the differences between different watches in order to make an informed decision based on features and what you are specifically looking for in a GPS watch.

One other feature to consider carefully before choosing a GPS watch is whether you want a heart rate monitor (HRM), which most running GPS watches offer as an option. A heart rate monitor is a sure fire tool for runners useful for measuring exertion and helping to set a steady pace more ealistically and accurately. However, some people do not have interest in heart rate training and the addition of a monitor usually increases the price of the watch.

Four Of The Best GPS Watches

Here are four top GPS watches that have become the most popular with runners based on GPS watch reviews, along with benefits of each and to what group of runners they are best suited:

Garmin Forerunner 110

Garmin Forerunner 110

The Garmin Forerunner 110 (regular version) and Garmin 110 HRM (with heart rate monitor) features an easy-to-use interface that makes it a great option for beginners who are looking not for bells and whistles but for efficiency and ease of use. The Forerunner 110 features all of the most important GPS watch features, measuring speed, distance, and heart rate with an optional heart monitor strap. The strengths of the Forerunner 110 are many, but among the most often cited is its simplicity. There are no extraneous features here, and everything that is included in the watch is included for an express purpose. Some watches attempt to fit too many features into one device, leading superfluous options and a cluttered interface. The Garmin Forerunner 110 simply includes the basics that are needed to satisfy runners. The main screen of the watch provides heart rate, distance, pace and speed readouts in an easily read and clear format. The watch is also small and compact enough for everyday use when not running. Many prefer the 110 to more advanced models because of its clean and basic design. It is both Mac and PC compatible and allows easy uploading of run info to your computer or any website and can make use of the popular Garmin Connect website. See also our previous Garmin Forerunner 110 review. $179-$229.

Garmin Forerunner 610

Garmin Forerunner 610

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Garmin Forerunner 610 with HRM and Garmin 610 without HRM. This is a watch that is geared towards serious runners who want all the latest features and benefits of a highly advanced GPS-capable watch. The Forerunner 610 builds on the basic features of the Forerunner 110 and adds more style and technology. For example, the watch adds virtual training partner and racing programs, custom and interval workouts, vibration alerts, and various extra lap features. It is fitness equipment and cycling compatible and also features a touch screen display that allows for a quick response to check any aspect of a run. The touch screen makes a big difference for many, especially during the middle of an intense run when sweat can make working a the small buttons a regular watch an unneeded hassle. The Forerunner 610 also features wireless uploading, allowing you to upload your run’s latest details to the Internet when away from home. $349-$399.

Timex Ironman Global Trainer

Timex Ironman GPS

The Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS watch and the Timex Global HRM Version are from Garmin’s main competitor in the GPS watch market and builds on the well respected history of the Ironman sports watch (see our previous sports watch reviews). This Ironman watch fully incorporates GPS technology, and makes it easy to simultaneously monitor speed, pace and distance. The interface on the Timex Ironman Global Trainer is markedly different from the Garmin models, and personal preference will determine which style is favored. This is a watch that targets a broad range of runners, from those who want a simple experience and a capable GPS watch to those more serious runners who require features and customizability. The beauty of the Timex Ironman Global Trainer is that it is simple on the surface, but for those who want added capability it is easily customizable for a wide-range of situations and uses. This sturdy watch also features a rechargeable lithium ion battery that gives an impressive 15 hours of life per charge. Among the Garmin watches, the 210 is probably the closest comparable watch to the Timex Global Trainer. $249-$299.

Garmin Forerunner 210

Garmin Forerunner 210

With the Garmin Forerunner 210 and Garmin 210 HRM , Garmin stakes its claim for a wide swath of the GPS market, as its appeal extends from beginners to the most serious of runners. All of the basics are included in a smart interface that mirrors what is seen in Garmin’s other models. The simplicity of the interface is almost iPod-like in design, and it is easy to see where each aspect of your run, speed, pace and distance, shows up on screen. When paired with a heart rate monitor, The Forerunner 210 also tracks calories, making it easy to develop a sophisticated workout plan in tandem with a specialized diet. The watch is light and comfortable, and is not cumbersome during even longer-distance runs. There is also the option of interval training, a feature trumpeted by Garmin and one that is incorporated well into the watch. The watch also can be converted to indoor use by adding a foot pod pedometer. This is a watch that is marketed to both ends of the GPS market because of its simplicity and ease of use coupled with the option of further customization if desired by more demanding runners. $199-$249.

Overall, whatever GPS watch you choose to buy, you will be purchasing a highly advanced piece of technology that will significantly improve your ability to monitor your runs anywhere in the world at any time. Any runner, from beginners to hardened marathoners, will find they have much to gain with a purchase of the latest GPS watch models.

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