Guide: Smartwatch for Running

GPS running watches – Sportwatch
The guide to choosing your best running GPS watch, the running watch, trying to understand the differences between sports watch, activity tracker and smartwatch.

Once, not too long ago, the running watch was for few. The roads were measured, which we used to train, with the odometer of the car, motorbike or bicycle or, the more professional, had the wheel odometer, the road meter, very precise, but not too comfortable, used above all for measure the stretches of the road of the repeated.

The chalk marks the markings of the km (or of the shorter distances), or took signs, houses, trees, garbage cans as references. We were Nawako, we just needed to put our ear on the ground. Yes, I know that someone has already become nostalgic and is thinking “it was better when it was worse”.

Then came the first racing watches and the first cardio (these have been around for some time). Wristwatch and GPS on the arm, super receivers that you had to pray to take and when they took they had an important margin of error. There were also the first pedometers (there are still), but even there we had to constantly recalibrate it, even if, let’s face it, it is not that 10% error that changes the life of an amateur.

The heart rate monitor? The heart rate belts that went crazy, that you had to continuously wet them (I save you how).

Today we have reached a really interesting level of precision and the battle between running watches has moved to other fields, given that the most valid ones on the market have reached a high level of reliability. The new battlegrounds are lightness, extra features, battery life, endurance, ease of use and programming, apps and software to make the best use of data. An open battle and yet to be won instead is the precision of the measurement of the heart rate monitor, which avoids us wearing the not very comfortable band, but which still has room for improvement.

Sport watch, Smartwatch, and Activity Tracker let’s try to clarify running and sports watches.

The runner with a little experience certainly uses GPS watches and is certainly confident with the differences between the different types of running watches, sports watches, heart rate monitors, and watches that monitor daily activity. As always, the categories have limits and in addition, there are transversal models of sports watches.

Activity tracker
Activity trackers are those watches that monitor our daily activity, the movement we do, estimate calorie consumption, many monitor sleep. The activity trackers are suitable for those looking for this information related to well-being, without having precise data related to sports.

Smartwatches are watches that have functions in part as an activity tracker and are born in conjunction with the smartphone, of which they have some functions and often give the best of themselves to the best in combination with the phone.

Sport watch
Sport watches, which increasingly have all the functions of activity trackers and in part of smartwatches, are designed to meet the needs of one or more sports disciplines (multisport).
Obviously I will dedicate myself to the latter and specifically to those that have functions for running and trail running

The important functions and features that a running sport watch must have

The important functions of a running watch are not only the essential functions but those which, in my opinion, speaking as a coach and as a runner, I find important and which, assuming that everyone then has his own spending budget, at the moment that I make a purchase worth evaluating.
Warning: I’m not saying that running is essential to have one of these tools, it’s also great to go out only with shoes, shorts, socks, and T-shirts and have fun.
But if you plan to buy a sports watch or renew your running GPS watch, I invite you to follow the instructions below.

First of all, a running watch must be a watch with GPS.

The GPS watch for the runner

The important functions and features of the running watch

  • A GPS system that easily acquires the signal, that does not lose it and that calculates the average, instantaneous distance
  • The possibility of having manual auto laps and lap recording
  • An effective heart rate monitor possibly on the wrist. Cardio is not considered by many, but it is a parameter whose use, in certain training periods, is more effective than the use of gaits and in any case it is a very useful data for assessing physical conditions in the short and medium-term.
  • The ability to be able to schedule workouts flexibly, where at least you can easily set distances, rhythm, cardio intervals.
  • An impact-resistant and easily readable display in all conditions
  • A battery that has a good life and a simple charging system.
  • An audible and vibrating alarm system that works and is not invasive

The secondary but still interesting functions of running watches

  • The calculation of the cadence and the frequency of the step
  • Calculation of the contact time on the ground and vertical oscillation and all the metrics on the running pace. This point, together with the previous one, can be useful to monitor your running technique, to work to improve it. It is certainly not a fundamental fact, but for fans of these aspects, it can be very interesting.
  • Altimeter
  • Function “bring back” and track the route is taken and navigation tools, especially useful for trails or if you run a lot in unknown places
  • Tests to evaluate the condition that estimates the need or not for recovery. They are tests based on different parameters and statistical data, they are a piece of advice, you must not be too conditioned
  • Multisport functions, if running is not enough
  • Basic activity tracker functions, which are useful for monitoring your condition.

A list of models still valid, still on sale, released a few years ago, which guarantees to spend less, all with the cardio function and with the functions to monitor all the main parameters of the training customers

  • Polar M 400 with heart rate monitor
  • Garmin Forerunner 735 TX
  • Garmin Fenix ​​3
  • Tom Tom Runner 3