Best Running Watch For Beginners Compared 2021

Last updated: November 29, 2021

GPS Running Watch / Best Running Watch For Beginners Compared 2021

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GPS running watches have become the bread and butter of both professional and amateur runners in recent times. From being able to track your progress, to being given challenges and notices on how you’re improving, the running watches of today are definitely getting more and more impressive.

However as a beginner you might not want all the fancy features that come with some of the high-end watches that do tend to cost quite a bit more. You may simply only want to record your steps, calories burned, sleeping metrics, and so on.

We’ve compiled compared some of the best running watches that beginners can use that won’t break the bank. We’ve compared them against their various features, durability and purpose. There are also some high-end choices in the list, depending on if you’re wanting to hit the ground hard from the start – but rest assured, they are beginner friendly.

Best Value
Garmin Forerunner 55
Garmin Forerunner 55
Budget Option
Huawei Band 4 Pro
Huawei Band 4 Pro
Best Overall
Garmin Forerunner 245
Garmin Forerunner 245
Beginner Friendly
Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin Forerunner 35
Most Popular
Apple Watch Series 6
Apple Watch Series 6

1. Garmin Forerunner 55

Key Features

  • Great battery life of at least 14 days in watch mode 
  • 20 hours of battery life in GPS mode 
  • Waterproof 
  • Accurate monitoring of heart rates 
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • ANT+ features 
  • Screen size: 1.04 inches
  • Watch dimensions: L x W x H: 42 x 42 x 12 mm
  • Weight: 37 grams
  • Screen shape: circular

Reasons to buy

  • Great, compact design 
  • Long battery life 
  • Incredible features

Reasons to avoid

  • Doesn’t have a music storage feature
  • There is no tracking of SpO2

Garmin has been the forerunner in running watch design for the last decade, and, true to form, the Garmin Forerunner 55 is second to none. In addition, the Forerunner 55 is seen as a great all-around watch for any level of fitness. 

This incredible watch offers training guidance as well as extra features, including advisable recovery time between runs.

The watch provides extremely accurate race predictions for events from your first 5K to your first marathon and every race that follows. It also offers runners daily workouts to keep them focused while keeping their workouts productive and balanced. Runners can maintain their fitness regime interesting by following the workouts that their watch suggests. 

The Forerunner 55 offers 20 hours of battery life, while GPS settings are engaged in battery life. This is pretty impressive compared to some of its competitor watches. Lastly, the watch gives accurate GPS tracking, reliable heart rate monitoring, and well-balanced workouts that can be customized.

2. Huawei Band 4 Pro

Key Features

  • 7 hours of battery life with GPS settings enabled 
  • Waterproof 
  • Incredibly accurate heart rate monitoring 
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • ANT + features 
  • Weight: 21 grams

Reasons to buy

  • Affordable 
  • AMOLED color screen
  • Pretty decent battery life 
  • Slim and comfortable design 
  • Fantastic features 
  • Easy navigation
  • SpO2 tracking

Reasons to avoid

  • Inconsistent sleep tracking 
  • The display isn’t as functional as competitor watches

Huawei has done an incredible job at creating an affordable band that can compete with running watches. Although most runners prefer seeing their stats on a watch while running, the Huawei Band Pro 4 has a pretty impressive screen that offers a precise reading. Runners who enjoy a light and slim fit love this band since it provides excellent features that can compete with high-end running watchers. 

The Band Pro 4 has many fantastic features making it a real steal. Runners can enjoy features such as GPS settings, heart rate monitoring, and SpO2 monitoring. The band also offers pretty decent battery life with at least seven hours of battery life while GPS settings are enabled. 

The band even has sleep tracking and recovery time recommendations. This is the one for runners looking for a reliable running watch that won’t break the bank. Lastly, runners who quickly feel irritated by a heavy watch will love the Huawei Band Pro 4’s light fit.

3. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music

Key Features

  • 24 hours battery life with GPS tracking 
  • Seven days battery life on watch mode 
  • Waterproof 
  • Accurate heart-rate tracking 
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • Weight: 38.5 grams

Reasons to buy

  • Incredible battery life 
  • Amazing connectivity with the help of Garmin Connect 
  • Several wonderful training schedules
  • Able to track swimming 
  • Feedback on previous workouts

Reasons to avoid

  • It is a pricey watch

Garmin has stepped up their game even more with the release of this incredible running watch. The Forerunner 245 provides runners with a comfortable watch with several awesome features, including music. Runners can enjoy impressive battery life by offering GPS tracking for up to 24 hours. This is a massive improvement compared to the previous model that only gave 11 hours. 

The Forerunner 245 gives remarkably accurate GPS tracking and heart-rate monitoring. In addition, the watch provides runners with complete training plans that can get them ready for any running event, starting with as little as a 5K. There are several structured workouts for the runner to enjoy. 

You can find the Forerunner 245 in two versions which are the basic and the music. If you enjoy running with music, it is most definitely worthwhile investing in the Forerunner 245 music. The watch not only makes it possible for you to transfer all your music, but you can also link your watch to your Spotify account.

This makes it possible for you to keep your playlists updated. Therefore, runners who are motivated by their favorite music will love this watch.

4. Garmin Forerunner 35

Key Features

  • Nine hours of battery life while in GPS mode
  • Nine days of battery life in watch mode 
  • Waterproof 
  • Features heart-rate monitoring 
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • ANT+ features 
  • Weight: 38 grams

Reasons to buy

  • Affordable 
  • Great boxy design 
  • Easy navigation 
  • Reasonable battery life 
  • Customizable displays

Reasons to avoid

  • Screen scratches after some time

Even though there have been two supersedes after the Forerunner 35, it is still the best regarding affordability and key features. Since the Forerunner 35 was released, Garmin released newer models 45 and 55. However, the 35 remains the most popular of the three, especially amongst runners with a conservative budget. 

The 35 has a very small and square design that is pleasant to the eye and easy to navigate. It has several good features, including accurate heart-rate monitoring and GPS tracking.

In addition, the watch provides runners with many sports modes and makes it possible for runners to customize their displays. Runners who enjoy adjusting their watches to suit their individual preferences will really appreciate this feature. 

When using GPS tracking, the watch gives you up to nine hours of battery life which is acceptable because this is a mid-range running watch. In addition, the watch is very user-friendly and has a sturdy and comfortable fit.

5. Apple Watch Series 6

Key Features

  • Battery life of up to 18 hours in watch mode 
  • The watch’s battery can offer seven hours of GPS tracking 
  • Waterproof 
  • Accurate heart-rate tracking 
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • ANT + features 
  • Weight: 34.6 g

Reasons to buy

  • SpO2 features 
  • A variety of color castings 
  • Bright display 
  • Sleep tracking 
  • Charges faster than previous models

Reasons to avoid

  • Battery life hasn’t improved 
  • There is no Android support

Apple has a huge following amongst runners who love the clear displays that the watches provide on the run. The Series 6 doesn’t disappoint. The watch features an incredibly accurate SpO2 sensor, so the runner’s blood oxygen saturation is ideally monitored and recorded while running. 

When comparing the GPS tracking of the Series 6 to its predecessor, the Series 5, there is a massive improvement in accuracy, especially on short, fast-paced runs. In addition, the Series 6 features a much brighter screen display that makes it easy for runners to spot their progress even on dull days. The watch gives runners access to various running apps, including Runkeeper, Strava, and iSmoothRun. 

Since the Apple Series 6 gives runners full access to their smartphone’s functions, including receiving texts, calls, and emails while on the road, it is the perfect running watch for anyone who uses their smartphone frequently but prefers to run without it. The watch makes it possible to enjoy their runs without extra baggage while missing nothing.

6. Fitbit Sense

Key Features

  • Color AMOLED touch screen
  • Impressive battery life: 12 hours with GPS tracking 
  • 6 days of battery life on watch mode 
  • Waterproof 
  • Heart-rate tracking 
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • ANT+ features 
  • Weight: 46 g

Reasons to buy

  • Clear display 
  • Sleep tracking 
  • Bands that can easily be swapped 
  • Incredible tracking features including heart rate, ECG, water intake, and exercise 
  • Stress monitoring and advice 
  • Able to control music

Reasons to avoid

  • Not easy to put on 
  • The screen can be cracked easily

Although the Fitbit Sense doesn’t give runners such a wide variety of running features and training tools as the Garmin Forerunner, for example, it is a great running watch for anyone who enjoys running but also cares about their overall health and fitness. 

The watch has the ability to record your stress levels, take an ECG, and measure your SpO2 while resting. The Sense offers accurate GPS tracking and a clear screen that is always on. As a result, runners can enjoy all the key stats that they need to record their progress and maximize their training. 

The Sense has a run detect feature so that the watch can detect any activity automatically. Once the watch has picked up fast movement, it will start tracking and recording. However, this is generally seen as a downside since most runners prefer activating a GPS lock before they begin their run for the utmost accuracy.

Nevertheless, the watch is commonly seen as a great everyday running watch since it records all activities and sleep. Serious runners who want a watch focused solely on their running and improving their runs will benefit more from other running watches. 

7. Polar Grit X

Key Features

  • 40 hours of battery life with GPS tracking 
  • 100 hours of battery life in saving mode 
  • Waterproof 
  • Heart-rate monitoring 
  • Bluetooth enabled 
  • Weight: 64 g

Reasons to buy

  • Fantastic battery life 
  • Tough and durable watch 
  • Amazing features 
  • Route guidance 
  • Running and fitness tests 
  • Hill Splitter™ detection

Reasons to avoid

  • Costly watch 
  • Heavy and solid fit 
  • No ANT+ features

Runners looking for a watch that can offer reliable functions over extended runs like ultramarathons have found what they are looking for in the Polar Grit X. This watch is perfect for long training sessions since the battery can last for 40 hours. With the help of battery-saving features, you can extend the battery life for up to 100 hours. 

The watch comes with additional features that motivate runners to take their running further beyond their first marathon. The most outstanding of these is FuelWise. It is a program that assists runners in setting up strategies of nutrition for 90 minute long activities. By training with these carbohydrate strategies, runners can boost their performance. 

Partnered with Komoot, the Grit X has phenomenal navigation. The watch conveniently separates the downhill and uphill runs as it tracks, and runners can review their progress on the app Polar Flow when they have finished their workout.

In addition to these great features, the Polar Grit X also offers sleep tracking. Furthermore, runners receive recommendations of workouts daily. Lastly, the Polar Grit X offers runners great analysis of training sessions and phenomenal sports tracking.

8. Coros Pace 2

Key Features

  • 30 hours of GPS tracking 
  • Weight: 36 g 
  • Water-resistant for up to 165 feet 
  • Sleep tracking 
  • Smartphone notifications

Reasons to buy

  • Very lightweight and comfortable fit 
  • Impressive battery life 
  • Great, bright displays at night

Reasons to avoid

  • Non-running features are limited

Runners who enjoy a light and comfortable running watch will love the Coros Pace 2. The watch offers runners a choice between a silicone band and a nylon band. By choosing a silicone band, runners can enjoy their Coros Pace 2 at only 29g and 36g if they prefer the nylon band.

Along with being incredibly lightweight, the Coros Pace 2 gives runners incredible features to boost their performance with every run. 

The watch offers great battery life along with a night mode setting that makes it much easier and convenient for night runners to enjoy their watch displays. In addition, athletes can enjoy a well-designed track run mode that has been specifically designed to reduce GPS errors for more accurate tracking and recording. 

Runners who enjoy other forms of exercise will appreciate the additional features that the Coros Pace 2 provides, as they can take advantage of the incredible strength training program. After completing the workout, users can review their performance with the help of a muscle heat map that clearly illustrates areas that worked hard and ones that didn’t.

Although the watch has these additional features, it is a runner’s watch that is dedicated to the art of running. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide runners with features such as music storage or the ability to link to apps.

How to Choose the Best Running Watch For a Beginner 

If you are a new runner, the selection of running watches can be pretty intimidating. With such a vast variety of running watches to choose from, it is beneficial to know what to look for when searching for your ideal running watch. Here are a few things you can keep in mind when you are considering running watches: 

Price 

The range of costs of running watches varies greatly because these watches differ in features and quality.

For example, if you want a watch that has GPS functions for tracking and recording your runs, the running watch you should be looking at will be much higher than those without these features. If you prefer not to spend too much, you might want to start with a more straightforward running watch without added features. 

Ergonomic comfort 

Since you will be wearing your watch 24/7, it needs to have a comfortable fit that won’t inconvenience you in any way. So when you are considering running watches, look at the size and shape of the watch.

Battery life 

It can be frustrating if you need to charge your watch frequently, especially if you plan to train for extended runs. Therefore, it is worthwhile to consider running watches that have long battery life. 

Advanced training features 

Many watches come with added training features that can significantly benefit your workouts. If you want your watch to step it up and give you ideas on how to reach your athletic best, consider investing in one of these high-end running watches.

Frequently Asked Questions

What features should I look for in my running watch? 

If you are planning on tracking and recording your runs, a watch with GPS capabilities is crucial. It is also good to check how much battery life the watch offers while the GPS setting is engaged. You don’t want your battery to run down while you are out on your first long run. Another feature that athletes enjoy is a heart rate monitor. 

How can my watch boost my workouts? 

These days many watches offer extra features, including training assistance and running plans. In addition to this, most running watches offer Bluetooth making it easy to connect to training tools such as a heart-rate strap or a foot pod. Lastly, you can connect your watch to your favorite running app. 

What smart features should be considered in a running watch? 

Most runners enjoy a running watch that can connect to music streaming apps like Spotify. By choosing a running watch that can provide you with your workout music, you don’t have to bring your MP3 player, iPod, or smartphone on your runs. In addition, some watches make it possible for runners to buy things while running because the watch can store a debit or credit card. This offers peace of mind as you know you will access cash if you need it.

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