Deciding on the best GPS running watch for your needs can be tricky. There are a ton of different styles out these days, and that number is only going to increase over time.
I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed, so I came up with a few main things to consider. Here are 5 tricks to choose the best GPS running watch that I’ve found after checking out a few of them.
Tip #1: Figure Out What You Need in Your Watch
This sounds simple- and it is- yet a lot of runners never do it.
What I’m talking about here is thinking about your specific needs. Not your spouse’s, friend’s or brother’s.
For example- do you sweat a LOT? Or do you live in a region that gets a ton of rain? If so, you need to make sure that your watch is waterproof.
Are you concerned about overdoing it because you have a fast natural heart rate? Maybe that heart monitor feature is more important to you.
Do you want to measure chances in altitude?
Will you use it as a normal watch, or just for running?
Again, I know it sounds silly but these are the things you need to ask yourself first. Because chances are, you don’t need the very expensive watches out there. Unless you’re extremely competitive, you can probably get by with a more basic, inexpensive model.
Tip #2: Can it Connect to a Footpod?
Footpods work very well with a good GPS watch. A footpod can help measure the distance you run, as well as determine your pace and cadence. While a GPS watch can help with this, a good footpod helps verify the information and make sure your data is accurate.
A footpod is especially helpful if you live in a very hilly area. We’ve heard of people running on trails that have difficulty keeping a strong GPS signal the entire time. Because the footpad can connect to the GPS watch, it can keep track of your current pace and mileage.
The only downside to using a footpod is that it does require more maintenance. You have to calibrate it to accurately measure distance, plus it’s just one more thing to worry about putting on every time you run.
Tip #3: Data Uploads are Awesome
All of the best GPS running watches allow you to upload your data directly to your computer. This makes it much easier to see trends, share with friends, or track on a fitness site or blog.
I know some people hate using computers, but you have to admit- they’re extremely handy. When it comes to tracking your miles, running speed, and just about everything else- the little screen on a watch just doesn’t cut it.
Tip #4: Battery Life
This is another thing that might sound silly, but think about it. How would you like to be in the middle of a long run when your watch suddenly dies?
It happens all the time- especially to people who purchased cheaper models with low quality batteries.
There is a solution to having a poor battery life- leave the watch plugged in anytime you aren’t using it. But this can actually make the battery life worse, plus it gets to be a huge hassle.
When you do your research, check out the estimated battery life provided by the manufacturer.
Tip #5: Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy
Even though GPS watches are much better than they used to be- they still aren’t perfect.
When you do your research, see if the reviewers comment on how accurate the watch was regarding distance, heart rate, etc. You may be surprised, as some watches are still fairly inaccurate.
The solution here is to avoid relying solely on your GPS watch. Instead, it’s sometimes better to map out the course on something like Gmap Pedometer to verify the distance traveled. But if you don’t want to do that, just make sure you get a watch rated highly for accuracy.
There are other factors to consider to help you choose the best GPS running watch. You probably want it to look cool, right? And you want a screen that’s big enough to read while running, but small enough that it doesn’t cover your whole arm.
Probably the best tip we can give you is to do your research. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever before to compare different GPS watches right next to each other. Just taking a few minutes to do this will save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.