Running is one of the best and most simple workouts. Get your shoes on and take in the park or hit the treadmill at the gym. Wind in your hair, lungs close to bursting - it’s some people’s heaven (with a bit of hell thrown in, of course).
Nowadays technology is good enough to help you track your running as well as achieve certain goals. While running watches won’t do the hard work for you, they can be a good motivator and will record exactly what you’ve done.
The best thing to go for if you’re serious about your running is a GPS running watch. They are more expensive than simpler activity trackers but do a whole lot more.
By having GPS built in, you can go out (without your phone, if you want) and the watch will accurately track not only your steps, but your actual route travelled, speed, cadence and more. Buying one will help you form a fuller picture of your running and allow you to track improvements.
A GPS running watch is also perfect for anyone, from beginner to marathon runner and beyond. Every watch in this chart works with its own free to download smartphone app that displays your running data, and many have coaching features that aid you in the build up to an event or even just a personal goal.
With that, here are the best GPS running watches you can buy today. They all work on iPhone or Android, too. Happy running.
Best GPS running watches 2019
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1. Polar M430
- Reviewed on: 2 May 2018
The Polar M430 is the best GPS running watch you can buy. For under £200 you get a cleverly simple yet fully featured watch.
With a monochrome display, choice of many colours and an excellent companion app in Polar Flow, it is as unobtrusive as running watches come, while giving you highly accurate tracking and a host of free coaching features.
Read our Polar M430 review.
- Reviewed on: 23 November 2018
This Garmin watch is, if you get the black one, quite a subtle choice. The Garmin Connect app is not as polished as Polar's, but it gets the job done once you've worked out how to use it.
More importantly, the accuracy and reliability of the GPS tracking is top draw, and the extra spend gets you a colour screen. It's also got great battery life.
Read our Garmin Forerunner 235 review.
3. Fitbit Ionic
- Reviewed on: 16 September 2019
The best Fitbit for Sports
The Fitbit Ionic is the most fully featured Fitbit smartwatch and activity tracker. It has it all, and its built-in GPS is great for runners or exercisers who don’t want to lug their phone around with them.
As well as all the usual fitness stats it features automatic multi-sports tracking, on-screen workouts, Caller ID and texts notifications on wrist, can store up to 300 songs with music control and be used for contactless payments, as well as chose from a range of special apps (Weather, Starbucks, Runkeeper, Strava, and more).
The Fitbit Versa 2 (which has the same features minus the built-in GPS) is cheaper, smaller and offers an improved screen, but the Ionic is still lightweight enough for you not to realise you’re wearing it.
Read our Fitbit Ionic review.
- Reviewed on: 4 October 2017
The Series 3 with LTE does what it set out to do, but it is a bridge product. We are not yet in a sci-fi world where everyone wants a watch to make calls instead of a smartphone. Apple has nailed the integration way better than anyone else, but with network restrictions and a high price – and limited practical use cases – it isn’t going to become mainstream yet.
As a GPS running watch its Activity app works well but isn't as fully featured as other activity trackers, such as the Fitbit Ionic. The GPS tracker works excellently though.
As a smartwatch it excels - iPhone users will adore seamless notifications, fitness tracking and outstanding build quality.
Read our Apple Watch Series 3 review.
5. Amazfit Pace
- Reviewed on: 15 March 2017
The cheapest watch in our round up, the Amazfit Pace is still a top choice. GPS tracking is just as good as any other watch here, and the app has been improved to better reflect your runs and easier show you data.
With a colour screen it's also easily customisable with tons of different watch faces and modes. One missing feature though is raise to wake the screen, so you have to press a button every time you want to turn the screen on.
Read our Amazfit Pace review.