Best running watches in 2019

There are lots of wearables on the market, but the best running watches tend to be some of the top performers in the whole category.

With better battery life, improved performance insights and smarter design, the demand for better running watches grows each year as we sift through the latest offerings from the likes of Garmin, Polar and Suunto in search of the best of the best.

Of course we still want highly accurate GPS, idiot-grade usability for when our running brains get tired and excellent partner apps to help us learn from our stats and stay motivated.

Best running watches 2019 at a glance:

  1. Polar M430
  2. Garmin Forerunner 235
  3. Garmin Vivoactive 3
  4. Fitbit Ionic
  5. Samsung Galaxy Watch
  6. Suunto Ambit3 Vertical
  7. Polar Vantage V
  8. Apple Watch 5
  9. Garmin Forerunner 935
  10. Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

1. Polar M430

Polar’s fuss-free M400 was Europe’s best selling running watch for a reason. Simple, effective and at a good price, the company was clearly onto a winner.

Thankfully with the new Polar M430 they’ve heeded the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke’ and kept most of what made the M400 a favorite but added some useful new skills.

Still easy to use, with a durable, if unremarkable design, the biggest upgrade is that the M430 now comes with built-in heart rate (HR) monitoring for zone training and continuous HR tracking off the wrist, so you can monitor your resting heart rate and your fitness progress.

There’s also sleep tracking and smart notifications and the benefit of the ever-improving Polar Flow app, which allows you to add smart coaching to your wrist for training that’s tailored to your abilities and goals, as well as providing one of the best ‘see your day’ views of everything you’ve done.

2. Garmin Forerunner 235

This reasonably affordable watch offers everything the world of Garmin has perfected for runners, in compact form. That means GPS tracking for 11 hours and activity tracking 24/7 for nine days on a single charge.

It also means you get wrist-based continuous heart rate and Garmin’s many apps for things like custom watch faces or marathon-specific training apps. You can enjoy smartphone notifications, audio prompts, live tracking and of course the Garmin Connect app for an in-depth analysis of your efforts.

While out on a run you can use information like aerobic Training Effect to ensure you don’t push yourself too far and hinder training, all while powering through heart rate zones to ensure progress – and following that, monitoring your VO2 Max will show how you’re getting fitter (although pay no heed to the utterly inaccurate race time predictors).

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