Why Choose a GPS Running Watch?

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Runners who are serious about their sport or who are in training for marathon competitions will value the input they receive from a GPS running watch. GPS running watches provide valuable fitness data that serious runners can benefit from during their training sessions. They come in a variety of designs and styles to choose from, depending on the features you desire.

GPS running watches come with a wide range of features for you to choose from. The most common aspects of the watch that many runners considerTimex Ironman Run Trainer GPS Watch important include the capacity to show accurate precise distance, speed and heart rate.  As compared with cell phone running apps which can be off by 1%-5%, precision of running data can make a huge difference in your training.

This information can be very valuable to have when you are training for marathon competition as it gives you an indication of your overall physical condition. Two other essential qualities of a quality GPS running watch are long battery capacity and waterproof exterior.

GPS running watches come in a variety of styles.  The lighter watches with smaller faced designs are most recommended, though you may find the numerical displays more difficult to view.   Another important feature of the watch to look out for is the signal strength.  Higher-end watches generally provide better signal strength throughout your run, while cheaper watches tend to sporadically lose the signal with location changes.

A GPS watch can be a big investment (although there are a few good ones priced around $150). If you’re going to drop the cash, you want to make sure you’ll get the value during your workouts and races.

In summary, the most important feature of a GPS watch is that it is precise in determining your location.  From this benefit, you can get precise information for your running pace and distance covered.  Listed below are the benefits for a GPS watch with precision being most important.


1.  Display of Real Time of Speed and Distance


Tom Tom GPS Watch















The GPS watch will calculate with precision (within 1 meter) of your real time of speed, distance, and pace by collecting data from nearby satellites.  Compared with cell phone running apps which are sometimes off by 1%-5% in mileage, it is best to have the correct precise running data from your GPS.

With a GPS watch, you can set your goal pace before you take off for your run, and your watch will notify you via a beep or a buzz if you’re running too fast or too slow.  Some models, like the Garmin Forerunner, can notify you as soon as you set a Personal Record on a run.  This kind of pace information is extremely valuable for training and on race day.


2.  Upload/Download of Maps


Garmin GPS Download Map Data













Another feature to watch for when considering a GPS watch is computer integration.   By using proprietary software, a GPS watch can download or upload maps from all over the world to use during road running, trail running, mountain biking, backpacking, and more.   Also, you can choose a personalized display of your run.

If you are a trail runner, a good GPS watch will ensure you stay on the trail even when nature has obscured landmarks, or intersecting paths make it difficult to follow.  One with a built-in compass can be a true life saver to anyone who travels off the beaten path.

In order to download maps to your GPS, you will need to download the proprietary GPS software to your home computer and then connect your computer to your GPS using a USB cable or you can remove the SD card from your GPS and download the map to it.


3.  Upload of Training Data to a Computer


Timex Ironman Software Download














The best part of having a GPS watch is for the training data.  A computer enabled GPS watch is a great training tool.   Just upload consecutive training logs from your watch to your PC and the software will analyze and compare your performance.   Based on the results, you can plan your next excursion, map it out, and upload it for your next trip.

Many GPS watches sync up with online programs that store your run data and allow you to compare stats from one run to the next.  If you’re working toward a specific running goal, tracking your progress over time is a powerful tool to help you qualify for that next race, or set a new PR.


4.  Monitors Heart Rate


Heart Rate Monitor Screen















Another great feature of a GPS is that it can track your heart rate and monitor your heart as you progress during your run.  As you get in better condition you can run at the same speed and distance and your heart rate should decrease.  Over time, you  should be able to run the same distance at a faster pace and still have the same heart rate.  This will help you to know if your pace is getting faster.

There are some very good software where you can review all your running workout data which shows your workouts in detail and used for advanced training.  The Heart Rate Monitor software screen shown above displays your heart rate versus your running hill elevation.


5.  Hands-Free Split Markers

Last, all GPS watches will record split times for you at pre-set distances, so you can keep your focus on running hard.  Pre-set your split distances before you leave for your run, and you won’t have to lift a finger to record your split times.






Best High End GPS watches



Garmin Forerunner 910 GPS Watch

The Garmin 910XT is the ultimate all-in-one GPS enabled watch for runners, bikers and swimmers. With the Garmin 910XT, you can track your distances, pace, elevation, heart rate and even swim metrics to ensure you can closely monitor your training progress. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters (164 ft.) and provides a battery life of up to 20 hours.

Polar RC3 GPS Watch

Best Value: $229

The Polar RC3 is Polar's first ever integrated GPS watch and there are new Orange and Tour de France color versions.   The watch has Polar accurate heart rate and calorie data, plus pace, distance, and 12 hour battery life.

Suunto Ambit HR GPS Watch

Best Trail Running Watch, $299

The Suunto Ambit HR is the best suited watch for trail runners and ultra distance runners.   The Suunto Ambit features an extremely accurate GPS unit, a long-lasting 50-hour battery, barometer, temperature reader and heart rate monitor.  For any trail runner that likes to explore, this watch is it.  It is fantastic as it includes everything you’ll ever need for your runs.



Best Affordable GPS watches




Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch

Good Value and Easy Uploads, $129

Primarily aimed at casual runners, the Garmin 10 is an affordable and easy to use GPS running watch that provides the basics of tracking your speed/pace, distance and calories at a touch of a button. The Forerunner 10 is one of the lightest and most comfortable watches produced from Garmin and is available in black, green and pink colors.

Timex Marathon GPS Watch

Best Value and Good Reviews, $76

The Timex T5K639 Marathon GPS watch has added a great value watch for your running and provides an affordable training tool that lets runners track their workouts without breaking the bank. The Timex Marathon watch allows runners to simply monitor their speed and distances.

New Balance GPS Watch

The New Balance N8 GPS Runner is an inexpensive GPS running watch that allows runners to monitor their running basics such as speed, distance and pace via the GPS tracker.  The New Balance Runner features GPS technology, 3 line multi-view display that allows up to 49 different pre-sets and 100-hour chronograph.


Which GPS watch feature do you enjoy the most and which computer Training software do you like?




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