The Best Running Watches UK
A good running watch will do a few things: Be high quality, record all your vital data & of course be comfortable; allowing you to hit the streets and make those gains!
Nowadays, running watches come with sport-specific features to track every stride you make, accurate GPS, as well as other sensors and high-tech features to keep you connected throughout the day.
The only thing is that there's a ton of options to choose from...Hence why we're here with this article!
In this post, we not only tell you about the factors to consider when buying one but also go further to provide specific examples of the best running watches UK 2020!
Buying a Running Watch - Buyer's Guide
This is one of the first features you’ll want to check on a smartwatch. It offers basic running data, ranging from step count, distance ran, and even calories burned.
More advanced fitness trackers will go as far as to monitor your sleep, as well as record the rate of your heartbeat.
These will all help you to monitor your fitness progress more easily and accurately. You should also be able to stay ahead of your health during running when you have access to this data.
Most current running watches come with a GPS feature that employs global position technology to record your running route with unrivalled accuracy. This way, you’ll be able to analyse your cadence, pace, and elevation for optimised training.
For those running on hilly terrains and covering longer distances, GPS watches will be a great choice as they can record your vertical gain and provide you with even more accurate data.Furthermore, you can also find running watches that use GLONASS for improved accuracy all over Europe.
Some running watches can record the rate of your heart, either via a built-in sensor on the wrist or externally using a chest strap, and this is something that many runners prefer. The ability to track your pulse per minute allows you to have a more tailored training regimen, using heart rate zones to enhance speed, strength, fat burning, endurance, etc.
Heart rate monitors will also estimate your VO2 max (Maximum Oxygen Consumption), as well as your recovery rate. Usually, models that come with this feature fall in the more expensive categories of running watches, so depending on your budget, you’ll have to check whether it’s necessary.
Multi-sport running watches provide you with all the above data and offer a level of waterproofness.
In addition to these, multi-sport watches are designed for specific sports activities, including swimming, cycling, running, snowboarding, skiing, and hiking.
GPS VS Chronograph
Most of the products in our list of best running watches UK have a GPS feature that allows you to track things like time, distance, and speed during your run. However, you can also find chronograph watches, which are the basic stopwatch designs.
These are usually cheaply available and will be a decent choice if you’re on a budget or merely looking for timing abilities on your running watch. While they may not be efficient in providing information during and after the workout, they have a battery that will last for an eternity.
On the other hand, GPS watches will be the preferred choice for any serious runner, despite their higher price tag. You might have to choose between GPS and chronograph watches, with your budget being the main determining factor.
A good running watch is one that will cope with your type and level of activity without yielding to the pressure.
If you want to go swimming with the watch, then look for a waterproof model.
Similarly, you want enough power on your watch to get you through several runs. In this case, look for a watch with a longer battery life. While it might be enticing to shop for an older model on a deal, these usually have inferior batteries.
Weight and Display
To ensure that you remain comfortable during your runs, you want to go for lightweight running watch design. Additionally, choose a clear and easy-to-read screen so that you won’t have trouble making out the data ut is showing. Some screens are backlit to enhance their clarity!
Finally, the price of the running watch you want to buy will always be a major issue, and in this list of best running watches uk, we'll go over what you get for the various different pricepoints.
These watches can range anywhere between 50-600+ pounds. Typically, the more you spend on a watch, the more features you stand to get!
At the end of the day, you want to go for a running watch that is within your budget. Just look for the features you want the most in a watch then compare the prices between available models and brands.
The Best Running Watches UK - Reviews
Garmin Forerunner 645
The Garmin Forerunner 645 is an upgrade of the Forerunner 630, which for a while had been considered the manufacturer’s best running watch. The 645 is the only offering in their product line that can store and play music directly on the watch, which you listen to via Bluetooth headphones.
It also offers contactless payments, so you don’t have to bring along your wallet if you're padding by Tesco on your way back home.
This watch employs a variety of advanced features that you get on its predecessor, including running dynamics meant to track your running form and provide aerobic and fitness feedback.
Unlike the 630, which uses a chest strap, this amazing timepiece employs a wrist-based heart-rate monitor, which allows for more free running.Also, you’ll need to have your running dynamics pod on to maximise these features.
If you’re also going to be taking part in other sports activities like swimming and cycling, this watch has tracking accessories that will come in quite handy. Furthermore, you’ll benefit from additional features like maps, course uploads, as well as TrackBack to get you on the right path when you happen to lose your way.
Another exciting thing about this watch is the navigation and mapping features are among the most accurate you can find in the market.However, what might not impress you is the battery life. Thanks to the heart rate monitor and music storage, you can only squeeze out 5 hours when it’s in GPS mode and the music is playing. On our list of best running watches uk, it's a top contender however!
This means you only get a few runs in before you’re back to charging it!Pros
Monitors overall fitness
Multiple running-related features
Music player compatibility
Excellent navigation and mapping features
Not too different from the Forerunner 245
Garmin Forerunner 245
If you’re looking to buy a top-of-the-line watch that will be practical for your morning runs, then look no further than the Garmin Forerunner 245. This amazing unit comes with all the features you’d dream of in a running watch and the best part is that you won’t have to break the bank to get your hands on it.
This watch is conveniently lightweight so that you won’t realise it's on your wrist during your runs. Its battery life has also been significantly enhanced compared to the Forerunner 645, leaving you with up to 24 hours of service.
This high-resolution colour display makes for easy viewing and the 245 can be programmed with tailored workouts as well as full training plans for your oncoming race.
A wrist-based heart rate monitor has also been included to keep you on top of your heartbeat during your workouts.
The Forerunner 245 features VO2 Max, training load, and training status, which together help to keep track of your overall fitness. Additionally, you get aerobic and anaerobic guidance after the run to provide you with a high-level perspective of your fitness progress.
You can choose to pair this watch with Garmin’s running pod if you want to get more stats regarding your running form. The pod can monitor cadence, torso, and ground contact; information that you can use to improve your efficiency and form.
The watch can be used for other sports activities like biking and swimming, thanks to tracking metrics that support them.
Just like its older siblings, the 245 doubles up as a fitness tracker and will count your steps and display notifications, alerts, and messages you get on your phone.
There is a safety feature that will send a text and email to select contacts showing your exact location so that in case of any emergency, you can expect that help is never far from arriving. A single push of a button or turning on auto-incident detection is all it takes to send out the alarm.
This remarkable watch will further store up to 500 songs or you can choose to stream Spotify on your smartphone. With this wealth of high-performance features, the Garmin Forerunner 245 is one of the best running watches UK you can count on to deliver to your expectations!Pros
Running, swimming, and cycling metrics
Music storage and playback
Can’t switch between sports hence not good for triathletes
Garmin Forerunner 735XT
When it comes to high-performance running watches, Garmin is a brand you can always rely on and the Garmin Forerunner 735XT was specially engineered for triathletes. The watch can track a diverse amount of data that will be useful for your training analysis, plus you get training aids at the end of the run.
Although it was originally meant to be a triathlon watch, the 735XT can still serve as a functional running watch. It tracks parameters such as time, distance covered, pace, etc. and just like other premium offerings from Garmin, this watch comes with a wrist-based heart rate monitor.
The watch features a thin and lightweight design that will keep you comfortable while running.It also has a nice colour display and can be programmed with custom workouts to help with hill repeats, speed works, and additional multi-step runs you may want to do.
What makes this watch stand out of the crowd is the ability to offer various metrics associated with running form. You get data that encompasses everything from vertical oscillation and ground contact to cadence, etc. Note that you might be required to wear a heart rate monitor to record some of these stats.
Furthermore, this watch is equipped with Garmin’s virtual runner features that enhance the fun of your runs.
You’ll be able to compare your current run with previous runs to know whether you need to speed up if you want to achieve a new personal best.
Lastly, the battery may not be as good as the one on the 245, but 14 hours on GPS mode is quite decent for a feature-filled running watch. Not to mention that there are extras such as bread-crumb route navigation and Strava segments.Pros
Great choice for triathletes
Heart rate monitor
Garmin virtual runner features
Not the best battery
No music or Garmin Pay
Apple Watch Series 5
Apple is known for its high-end smart accessories, so you know what you can expect when you invest in an Apple watch! Also, how can have a list on the best running watches uk, without having the apple watch series 5?
The Apple Series 5 is an exciting smartwatch that you can use for running, thanks to a wealth of practical and relevant running features.
First on the list is a GPS feature to offer accurate navigation data, while third-party apps like Strava have been allowed to access sensor data.
You get various information regarding time, distance, and heart rate during the run, as well as benefit from Apple’s amazing fitness tracking features.
The watch also offers music playlist syncing compatibility and you can also use Apple Pay when you want to stop for a drink. Additionally, there is LTE to let you stream tunes on the go, and make calls directly from your phone as you run.
The Apple series 5 watch uses an always-on display mode to make it easy for you to read your running data.However, you’d be better disabling this feature if you’re going to be covering prolonged miles to save on battery life. This is to say that the battery is underwhelming when you have to use the watch while the GPS and heart rate monitor are on. Pros
Apple Music Player
Heart rate monitor
Short battery life
Garmin Forerunner 45
Once you have slid into your trainers for your morning run, the next accessory you need to be ready to go is a running watch. The Garmin Forerunner 45 is a great choice for anyone for the perfect running sidekick!
This watch can be found in two sizes; the 45, which is the larger size and the 45S, which is the smaller version. It also comes with a hi-res colour display for better visibility so that you don’t have trouble reading the data during your runs.
Among the flagship features you find on this watch is the GPS, which you can harness to check the distance traveled, intervals, and pace during your runs. Intuitive buttons on the watch’s interface can be used to pause the timer when you want to view the time you managed.
The Forerunner 45 also supports music playing and comes with handy controls to select your playlist.
You can further sync this watch with your phone so that you answer any incoming calls, texts, emails, etc. directly on your watch.
There is an array of wellness tracking features that will come in handy when using the Forerunner 45. It can keep track of your daily sleep, calories burned, steps taken, distance covered, etc. giving you a clear picture of your training progress every time you complete your morning laps.
The watch even goes as far as to provide stress monitoring throughout the day, meaning it continues being functional even after your run.This allows you to keep your stress levels in check so that whenever they start to rise, you can take a breather to cool yourself down.
The 45 has been designed with a body energy monitoring feature that allows you to easily plan your day for sufficient rest and optimal activity. Tracking and safety features have also been included to ensure that your contacts have your real-time location in the event of an emergency.
You’ll also be impressed by the Garmin Coach adaptive training; an excellent plan offering premium and customised coaching for your training pleasure. This ensures that you achieve the training goals you set at the beginning.Pros
Lightweight and thin
Wrist-based heart rate monitor
Comes in two different sizes
Garmin Forerunner 945
The Garmin Forerunner 945 the best you can get from the popular Forerunner series from Garmin and an absolute must have in this list of best running watches uk.
This multi-purpose fitness accessory will not only track your runs but also support a wide range of gamut workouts. Not to mention that you get music playback compatibility, Garmin Pay support, maps, just to mention a few.
Whether you’re doing your runs on a treadmill or the trail, this watch will monitor your progress accurately and provide relevant data to help you improve your workout.It also comes with Garmin’s running pod compatibility, which adds extra data, including ground contact time, vertical oscillation, lactate threshold, and stride length.
Its battery life is one of the longest you can find among premium models. You get to enjoy up to two weeks of use in smartwatch mode, 60 hours in ultratrac mode, and 10 hours in GPS mode. You’ll also find great use in the built-in heart rate monitor when assessing your overall well-being.
Another interesting feature is the VO2 Max, which provides a detailed analysis of your runs and workouts.Furthermore, there is heart variability, as well as post-exercise oxygen consumption data for optimal planning.
The Training Effect, Training Status, and Training Load features attempt to keep you from overexerting yourself. You will get relevant advice regarding your progress, as well as get to know whether your race time was a hit or a miss.
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is best suited for serious runners and its wealth of high-end features is all the proof you need. However, this accumulation of features come at a price, so you should be ready to spend big if you want to have this amazing watch on your wrist!Pros
Long battery life
Spotify, Amazon Music, download
The Fitbit Ionic is a practical running watch with amazing features! This unit can store as many as 300 songs, ensuring that you jam to your favourite artistes as you continue with your run. It can also detect crunches, as well as other gym workouts for easy analysis of your training.
A built-in GPS feature, together with pulse-tracking ability makes this watch one of the best fitness accessories you can find. However, the heart rate monitor can be a little confusing. This is because it tends to be more accurate at high-intensity levels but notably inaccurate at lower levels of exercise.
This poses a problem when you consider that most people prefer to exercise in a more relaxed zone. So, the heart rate data at this level of workout can be slightly misleading.
When it comes to battery life, the manufacturer claims that you will get at least 4 days, which is quite impressive!
However, the more you keep on using the watch, the less time the battery will last. The Fitbit Ionic will track your steps, and note down the distance covered and calories you burn in a day. Not to mention that you get a report of how well you spent the night sleeping.
The same is true when it comes to flights of stairs you manage to climb in a day and reminds you to get moving when you’ve been sitting for too long.
This watch also comes with tailored coaching workouts that you can use as guidance for specific exercises.
You’ll also appreciate the waterproofing properties of the watch that allow it to remain resistant up to 50 meters. This means it can be a great swimming partner that you can use to track the distance, length, and time you’re in the water. Just don’t expect to get any data from the heart rate monitor.
To ensure that you’re well-rested before you begin a new day of training, this watch goes a step further to monitor the quality of sleep you’re getting, based on your movements at night and heart rate activity. This information is subsequently broken down into deep, light, or REM sleep.Pros
Tracks variety of running data
Comfortable to wear
Compact and lightweight
Generally basic smartwatch functions
The Suunto 7 is another exquisite running watch that comes with stacked with a variety of interesting features, and is a firm favourite on our list of best running watches uk. From a sharp display and offline maps to a good heart rate monitor, smart functionality, and cool heat maps.
Watch out for the controls though; they might seem confusing if you’ve never used the watch before. The combination of push and touch buttons, as well as the sluggish Wear OS interface, can be frustrating but it gets better once you become accustomed to the overall system shortcomings.
The Suunto 7 can be compared to the Fitbit Versa 2, especially when it comes to battery life.You will be able to squeeze out two days on a full charge cycle, which is pretty decent for a Wear OS watch. The display is also huge to ensure that you have no qualms when reading the data.
The only thing that will make you cringe about this running watch is the price. It can easily rival an apple, which may not sit well with many buyers out there!Pros
Two-day battery life
Huge and visible screen
Garmin Fenix 6
The Garmin Fenix 6 from Garmin completes our list of the best running watches UK! But make no mistake about it; it’s no slouch! This unit will cater to all manner of outdoor sports, allowing you to switch between modes such as normal and trail running to hiking and sky diving!
When it comes to running dynamics, you won’t find a better watch among all offerings from Garmin.
Its data output can easily compete with the highly regarded Forerunner 945, with features such as VO2 Max, race prediction, recovery time, Training Effect, Training Load, just to mention a few.
If you like to explore new routes whenever you go for a run, you will like the TOPO rich mapping feature, as well as the provision to upload GPX routes to follow. You won’t have to worry about getting bored as you jog around, this watch offers you the same music features as the Forerunner 945 and 245.
You can store as many as 2000 songs on this watch and download apps such as Deezer and Spotify for your listening pleasure.You’ll be able to listen to hit songs offline even when you leave your phone behind.
Overall, the small and light design of the Garmin Fenix 6 makes it a practical watch to run with, and the battery life is also respectable.Pros
Can download apps
Compact and lightweight
Recurrent elevation error
With the Polar M600, you get the go-to features of a smartwatch and the functionality of a GPS watch combined in this amazing unit. The M600 uses Google Play Music to store up to 4GB of music files directly on the watch, meaning you’ll have jammed to all your favourite hits before you finish your run.
The watch also enables you to pause, skip, rewind, and play the music directly whenever you feel like.
You get all the best features of a GPS watch, including tracking of speed, distance covered, and time for accurate analysis of your workout.
Other than that, there is a wrist-based heart rate monitor to record your health progress and Polar’s suite of running data. With this data, you’ll be able to see how your daily runs contribute to your overall workout, how hard you’ve been training, and know when it’s time to recover.
Another thing is that the M600 is waterproof and features basic swim metrics, so you can still use it when you decide to take your workout underwater.Moreover, the watch acts as a fitness tracker that counts the steps you make, enabling you to come up with daily step goals. Not to mention that it monitors sleep!
This watch runs on Google’s Wear OS, which lets you download useful apps that can be synced to your Android phone. Any messages, emails, and other alerts you get on your phone can be viewed directly from the watch.
The only grievance on the Polar M600 is that it’s a little bit bulky and may start weighing you down on extended runs. Also, the battery only offers 8 hours of use, which isn’t that impressive. Overall, this will be a great alternative to the Forerunner 645 above!Pros
Heart rate tracker
Music storage and playback
Polar’s Smartcoach features
Waterproof and swimming tracking
A little bit bulky
Short battery life
When it comes to the best running watches UK, the above-mentioned models are some of the most sought-after units in the market. They all come with a wealth of features that you will find extremely useful during your fitness journey.
So, the next time you’re considering upgrading your current running watch, you know what to look for!