The warmth of the sun on your skin, the feel of the wind ruffling your hair, the sheer exhilaration of being out in the open. There isn’t much that compares to running out in the open, liberated from daily responsibilities. Being outside of the gym does pose the issue of tracking your progress though. Fortunately, there are plenty of wearable devices that will do the number-crunching for you. Want to know how many miles you’ve covered? No problem. Need to compare calories burned from different routes? You got it. Curious about your heartrate before and during your run? Ok! Just strap on one of these nifty devices and go about your dash!
1. Garmin Forerunner 920XT
The Garmin Forerunner 920XT has been designed for serious athletes—triathlon champs to be specific. It is a GPS-enabled multi-sport watch that can accurately record biometric data for activities like running, cycling, and swimming.
Apart from the usual bevy of numbers like the steps taken, distance traveled, altitude gained, and heart rate, the Garmin Forerunner 920XT also records data like the total number of steps you take in a minute (cadence), the bounce in your step (vertical oscillation), and how much time your foot is in contact with the ground (ground contact time). The watch then prepares a chart that compares your numbers with those of your peers.
The device also has a recovery-check feature. It indicates, in real-time, how you are recovering after a strenuous physical activity and advises on when to start the next activity. The Garmin Forerunner 920XT has been designed for the serious, competitive runner. So it calculates the maximum amount of oxygen you consume as you pump up your efforts (VO2 max) to predict your run times.
This device is pricey—one of the most expensive of all fitness trackers right now in the market. Should you buy it? You could, if you are an ultra-runner. Else, read on.
2. FitBit Surge
The FitBit Surge may not be a beast like the Garmin Forerunner 920XT, but this nifty fitness tracker comes with an impressive array of features. This GPS-enabled device can monitor your numbers whether you are running, cycling, or doing static cardio workouts. It can also monitor heart rate continuously. Under the hood is a 3-axis accelerometer, a 3-axis gyroscope, and a powerful digital compass so you can obtain numbers like steps taken, distance traveled, altitude gained, stairs climbed, and calories burned.
You can set customized fitness goals and the watch will figure out and notify how you are performing. The FitBit Surge is pricier than most other fitness trackers. It is definitely for the serious runner who wants to know more about his performance than just the distance he has run.
3. TomTom Runner Cardio
Another runner’s watch, the TomTom Runner Cardio means business with its sophisticated GPS and continuous heart-rate monitoring capabilities. It measures the steps taken, distance traveled, time, speed, calories burned, altitude gained, and stride. You can set customized goals with the TomTom Runner Cardio, and the watch then motivates you to aim towards your goals with diagnostic messages based on your performance. Even with so many features on board, it is surprisingly easy to use.
It is pricier than most fitness bands and even many GPS-enabled fitness trackers. It is definitely a serious runner’s watch who wants to keep track of his performance over time.
4. Polar M400
The Polar M400 is the ideal runner’s watch for the person with a budget to mind. It is GPS-enabled, so it can accurately record running metrics like distance traveled, speed, and pace. Additionally, the Polar M400 keeps tracks of the numbers you notch up across various training sessions and lets you compete against your personal best scores.
It may cost a few hundred dollars less than the giants—the Garmin Forerunner 920XT and the FitBit Surge—but the Polar M400 records an impressive range of data that you have come to expect only from high-end trackers. For instance, it can predict runtimes based on your performance metrics. It does not have a built-in heart rate monitor, but it is compatible with an HRM chest strap.
5. Runtastic Orbit
At this price and with its array of features, the Runtastic Orbit combines the best features of some high-end activity trackers with the affordability of the average fitness band. It is not GPS-enabled. But it can still record the distance you have traveled if you use it in sync with the Runtastic running app, which has to be loaded on a GPS-enabled phone. Then it displays all the critical running metrics like the distance traveled, steps taken, calories burned, and speed.
This device is ideal for the avid runner who is serious about his fitness goals and on-track performance but also has to take care of the budget.
- Basis Peak
If you are not a competitive runner, you may not wish to spend a fortune on a GPS-enabled fitness tracker. The Basis Peak sports a bevy of sophisticated features that the fitness-conscious runner will appreciate.
The Basis Peak has been designed to monitor biometric data for a number of different activities, running included. It can automatically detect the nature of an activity and switches modes to display the appropriate metrics. Apart from the usual gamut of running data like steps taken and calories burned, the Basis Peak can also continuously record heart rate. It is water-resistant, so you can wear it even in pouring rain.
- FitBit Charge HR
The FitBit Charge HR is a simple fitness tracker that mainly keeps count of the steps taken, calories burned, the altitude gained, and the heart rate during these activities. The optical heart monitor on the FitBit Charge HR is accurate and performs even during static cardio workouts. However, it has no in-built GPS, so it cannot calculate the distance run or the pace of the runner. This is a drawback if you compare the FitBit Charge HR with some other high-end fitness trackers. This device also does not include many other features that its cousin, the FitBit Surge, offers.
But the FitBit Charge HR provides value for money and is ideal for those casual runners who just want to know the calories they burn.
- Jawbone Up Move
The Jawbone Up Move is targeted towards the budget-conscious casual runner who just wants to monitor his steps and the calories he burns every session. It is one of the cheapest fitness trackers in the market but manages to impress with its goal-setting feature that is not found in most other fitness trackers in this price category. The Jawbone Up Move lets you set customized activity goals. You then receive automatic reminders to help you remain on track as you work out to reach your fitness goals. It is like having your personal motivational trainer always around you.
A fitness tracker that records running metrics ensures you can get the most out of your favorite workout.