Sports watches have come a long way from just telling you what time it is, and the right watch can be a fantastic tool to accompany your distance running routine. Nowadays, watches are packed with features that range from a simple stopwatch function to being able to measure your heart rate, and even track your movement with a GPS. The best watch for a distance runner is a matter of opinion, but subjectivity aside, there are some features that can be considered crucial in order for the watch to be a good training tool. Among these is an easy-to-use stopwatch function with easy-to-read numbers, a countdown timer, and lap memory. More serious runners might also want features such as a heart rate monitor and GPS. Nonetheless, here are some top rated running watches for 2011.
This sports watch is a favorite and featured in a number of fitness publications such as Runner's World and Running Times magazine. It looks basic, but incorporates new technology while perfecting the features that all runners want in their watch. This watch’s TapScreen Technology allows the runner to simply tap the watch as they run to record splits and activate timers. The amount of force needed to activate these functions is adjustable. Perhaps the best feature of this watch is its Target Time Pacer. Before a run, you can input your desired pace or goal time. During the run, as you tap the watch to record splits, an audible signal will let you know whether you are running too slow, too fast, or are on target, so you will know how you’re doing without even looking at the watch! Finally, for those long runs, activating the Hydration & Nutrition Alerts will produce audible and visual signals at regular intervals to remind you to refuel. You can get all of this for around $90.
Named Best GPS Watch by consumersearch.com, this watch is a top pick for athletes that want the features of a GPS watch, but without the added bulk. The Garmin Forerunner 210 keeps track of speed, pace and distance. Unlike other GPS watches, this one displays your current pace instead of just your average pace. You can also get this watch with a heart rate monitor, though you’ll have to spend a little extra. It is important to know, however, that while this watch is water-resistant to 1 meter, it cannot be used for swimming. So if you’re a triathlete, check out the Garmin Forerunner 310XT instead! The Forerunner 210 sells for around $200, or $250 with the heart rate monitor.
At around $130, this GPS watch is significantly cheaper than the other models in Garmin’s lineup, but gives you a lot of bang for your buck. In addition to the standard features of a GPS watch, the Forerunner 305 also has a Virtual Partner function, pace alerts, auto-lap functionality, multi-sport mode, and customized workouts. If you like to cross train, this watch is also compatible with speed sensors for cycling. The trade off is that this watch is bulkier than most, but users praise its high functionality, accuracy, and affordable price.