The best running watches have common traits, but choosing one is extremely subjective. Your options are abundant, with no shortage of styles, features, complexity and prices. Before choosing a watch, you should define what type of runner you are and what support you need to meet your goals.
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According to Sports Watch Informant, the Garmin 305 is the "best of the forerunners and best of the best sports watches." Running Watch Reviews says the Garmin 305 is the "best running watch for 2010." The Garmin 305 provides more features and the same functionality for almost half the cost of the Garmin 405. It includes a navigation map view with waypoints and tracking capabilities. You can store run intervals and a variety of workouts and you can monitor mileage, pace, calories burned and total training time for multiple sports. An optional foot pod provides wireless technology to monitor heart rate. The price range is $160 to $200.
The Garmin 405 provides wireless auto sync to a computer. This watch tracks distance and pace, with a 1,000-lap memory capacity, it tracks splits, lap times and calories burned and it includes a heart rate monitor. The design is sleek with touch-screen ease. The cost range is $300 to $400.
The Garmin FR60 includes a virtual partner to race against and it can track workout time, heart rate, calories burned, lap time and averages. An optional foot pod allows for wireless tracking of speed and distance, as well as an auto sync to a computer. The cost range is $100 to 200.
Timex Trailrunner T5J985
This is a GPS-enabled watch with navigation and waypoint setting. The watch can record up to 10 waypoints, it can track back to a specific waypoint and it includes a compass. This watch provides all other top features a serious runner would expect, except an interval timer mode. The cost range is $185-$285.
Timex Men's Flix 100-Lap
The Timex Flix is affordable and functional and it is one of the most popular running watches. It has a 100-lap memory capacity, a 100-hour chronograph, nine interval timers and training log storage. Shake the wrist and the indiglo light allows you to easily check stopwatch times. Cost ranges from $40 to $50.
Timex Bodylink T5F011
This Timex features an external Navman GPS that is worn on a belt clip or arm strap. It includes a heart rate monitor along with speed, pace, distance and interval timer capabilities with a 100-lap memory capacity. It is equipped with a feature that can predict your finishing time in a race. The cost is $180 to $275.
Polar watches provide world-class heart rate monitoring systems. This is a multi-sport watch with a long battery life, and it is GPS-enabled and compatible with Polar's W.I.N.D. technology, which disables any heart rate monitor interference. This watch is considered an advanced running watch with a price range of $324 to $469.
The RS400/SD is considered the Polar top-pick by the Sports Watch Informant. It has a 99-exercise file memory capacity, it has a long battery life and it is GPS- enabled. For the runner who wants an advanced watch and doesn't mind losing W.I.N.D. technology this is an excellent choice. The cost range is $250 to $390.
The Mio Drive watch was voted the best buy from Consumer Digest magazine in 2009. This watch is for the calorie-counting runner who wants on-demand heart rate monitoring without the chest strap. The cost is $80, with an option to purchase additional band colors.
Suunto, like Polar, is for the runner who expects advanced fitness analytics and training options. This watch boasts a training effect option that is available only through Suunto--an option that guides you to train harder or less to perform at optimal levels. The cost range is $260 to $375.