Best running watches | CNN Underscored

Best running watches | CNN Underscored

If you’re like us, you’ve spent part of this strange year getting into a better fitness routine, whether it’s with an exercise bike, a rowing machine or the new Apple Fitness+. As we set New Year’s resolutions, it’s a great time to commit to continuing to take your fitness seriously — and we’re here to tell you that there’s technology to make it even easier.

Investing in a running watch is totally worth it. It can take your workouts to the next level, as you track calories burned and miles covered and watch your time and distance goals be crushed as you run and track consistently. Plus, most watches have features beyond tracking solely runs; you can track strength and toning workouts as well.

We looked at watches that offered a GPS component so that you can accurately track your adventures outdoors. We tested models at different price points to get a sense of what’s the best option for new runners who are setting their pace and seasoned runners looking to smash personal records. Most watches pair to designated smartphone apps, which we also took into account when testing, but you can also connect the wearable to other fitness apps like Nike Run Club. We went hands on and hit the ground running (literally) with picks from Polar, Garmin and Fitbit.


A step up from the Charge 4 and a move into a smartwatch design, the Versa 3 is an awesome midrange running watch. The always-on display makes it easy to access your stats directly on the watch (and you can choose from a range of watch faces for a custom experience). You can use the GPS monitoring for runs to check your pace and distance directly on the watch, and after a run you can check the Fitbit app for a map of your workout. It also features a 24/7 heart rate monitor and sleep tracking and is water-resistant up to 50 meters. The battery life is supposed to last six days, but with heavy use and the always-on display, we found we charged it every four days or so.


If you’re serious about your stats and training, the Forerunner 245 Music will help you set and achieve goals. The GPS tracking is built in, so you can run hands-free, and both Apple and Android users can access their music on the device while running. It also features a Pulse OX Blood Oxygen Saturation Monitor as well as an always-on heart rate monitor. If you’re using an Android smartphone, you can respond to texts on the watch as well. You can also access downloadable training plans to set yourself up for success. It measures statistics down to every detail, even measuring the bounce in your run.



With over 80 sports modes, a barometer and GPS monitoring, this sport watch will have you covered for all of your running and hiking adventures. It’s a touch-screen control and offers a solid battery life in GPS mode.

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