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Best Running GPS Watches

last updated Oct 29, 2018

A running GPS watch is simply a top-of-the-notch sports gem. It's jam-packed with features, sleeker, sophisticated, and overall a great watch. These running GPS watches have features such as heart-rate sensors, compass bearing, or barometric altimeter and that is only a couple of the features these little devices bring to the table. Imagine making a call or sending a text message on the run, measuring ground contact time, cadence and bounce, singing to your favourite tune, and seamless connectivity to online apps; that is the power these GPS watches contain.

If you are looking to take your cycling or your running to the next level, then you might consider getting a running GPS watch. The best part is that you can get a GPS watch that perfectly suits your particular sport. Be it that you want to keep track of your sporting experience or access elaborate details about your fitness, you can get a perfect GPS watch. We thought we would lend a hand and did the research to list you the top ten running GPS watches on the market to help you find the perfect watch for you. This list will not only help you to choose the best GPS watch to run with, but it will also show you some tips on how to choose which one you will want.

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Products Evaluated
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Last Updated: October 27, 2018
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By Melissa Coleiro:

This buying guide of Running GPS Watches has been put together to show you the best researched and reviewed Running GPS Watches to give you the ability to track not only your location but your fitness goals as well. A Running GPS Watch to keep your eye on is the Garmin Fenix 5S. We love this addition, because it is highly rated, you can dive up to 100 meters, scratch resistant, and can connect to WIFI.

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Rating
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1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97
Accessories
96%
Accuracy
98%
Battery Life
96%
Features
98%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$622.07
2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
Accessories
94%
Accuracy
95%
Battery Life
95%
Features
97%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$215.00
3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Accessories
92%
Accuracy
93%
Features
95%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$228.95
4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.7
Accessories
90%
Accuracy
92%
Features
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$45.99
5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
89.3
Accessories
90%
Accuracy
88%
Battery Life
89%
Features
90%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$173.50
6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.3
Accessories
90%
Accuracy
88%
Battery Life
87%
Features
88%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$317.93
7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Accessories
88%
Accuracy
87%
Battery Life
88%
Features
85%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$148.69
8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.7
Accuracy
78%
Battery Life
78%
Features
80%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$158.98
9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.5
Accessories
78%
Accuracy
78%
Battery Life
78%
Features
80%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$249.99
10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.3
Accessories
78%
Accuracy
78%
Battery Life
79%
Features
78%
Price Comparison Last Updated (14.11.18)
$78.99
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Garmin Fenix 5s
  • TomTom Spark 3
  • Apple Watch Series 2
  • Pard High Accuracy GPS
  • Polar M430
  • Suunto Ambit3 Vertical
  • Moto 360 Sport
  • Fitbit Surge
  • Garmin Forerunner 225
  • Pebble 2
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Top 10 Picks

1. Garmin Fenix 5s

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97
Garmin Fenix 5s
Accessories
96
Accuracy
98
Battery Life
96
Features
98
best offer for today
$622.07
Pros:

Highly efficient in tracking distances, route, and pace

It is compact with a water rating of up to 100 meters

Has a sizeable watch face size

It is resistant to scratch

Cons:
  • Not so sensitive touch screen

Garmin Fenix 5s tops the list of best 10 running GPS watches not so much because of its elegant look, but because it’s smart, has seamless connectivity, and up-to-the-minute touch screen for ease of navigation. In a nutshell, all the specialties of a smart running watch assimilated into one device.

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Prices:

Garmin Fenix 5s is a premium gadget with a high ended price tag but nonetheless decent for the smart GPS running watch. The fully fledged featured GPS watch gives you the value for your money as it can practically do everything in regards to your favorite sport.

Colors:

The platinum color is dominant but others shades of colors are available. Notable is the orange color that gives Garmin Fenix 5s a distinctive look.

Battery life:

Has a good battery life. You can get into your favorite sport all day long without the fear of your battery running flat. Besides, the material is made from light material thus the sleek look.

Connectivity:

Can remotely connect with GPS and has blue tooth, Wi-Fi, and sync with Garmin app

Efficiency:

Really efficient as it records data, count steps, monitor heart rate, communicate with external sensors, measure temperature, altitude, and air pressure, and count sleeps

Smart:

Receive all smart notifications such as text, call, and social. It has a touch screen

Size:

It’s sleek and light making it favorite for running.

2. TomTom Spark 3

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95.3
TomTom Spark 3
Accessories
94
Accuracy
95
Battery Life
95
Features
97
best offer for today
$215.00
Pros:
  • Sufficiently captures different metrics of sports with a multisport mode such as runs, pace, and gym workouts.
  • Has a Bluetooth music player, a paired wireless headphone thus reducing load and easing runs

Cons:
  • Pairing to devices can be a nightmare
  • The battery doesn’t last long enough when connected to GPS.
  • No notifications 

Nothing beats the experience of running unencumbered, free and driven wild with music from the novel gadget. TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music pairs well with the wireless headphones and let you enjoy your music while running with your favorite music playing. Besides, it stands out of the crowd as it can connect with almost every running up effortlessly.

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Prices:

It’s affordable and the experience goes a long way to affirm the value of your money. The best part is that TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music comes with the wireless headphone and fully loaded mp3 features.

Colors:

The screen comes in a black color but the straps come in many different colors. You can have light to dark blue straps, gray, or even orange if you love the showy warm colors.

Battery life:

Has a relatively good battery life and but can run to for five hours while the music on. When not connected to a GPS the battery can last for a long time.

Connectivity and compatibility:

It can connect to all iOS, all iPhone devices, and all android starting from 4.4 and above. It uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi features.

Efficiency:

Access real time metric such as heart rate, speed, distances, calories burned, pace at a glance. Allow you to explore new routes, capture all the active moments in your life, being indicted as a sprint, bikes, strolls, swims, and steps.

Size:

It comes in small size making it ideal for sporting.

3. Apple Watch Series 2

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93.3
Apple Watch Series 2
Accessories
92
Accuracy
93
Features
95
best offer for today
$228.95
Pros:
  • Highly effective as it can instantly connect to internet, track pace, heartbeat, temperature at a breeze.
  • It is water resistant and even better use a speaker to force water
  • It can withstand pressure equivalent to 5ATM
Cons:
  • Iffy tracking accuracy 

Apple Watch Series 2 is a one-watch solution for all the all athletes. It is basically an extension of your favorite iPhone. Leave your phone behind and step onto a track field and not miss a step. It is that simple and truly amazing.

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Prices:

The price is relatively great, well befitting for a gadget that brings all your iPhone functions to your wrist.

Colors:

Has a rather space gray case, black sport band and has widgets that are changeable

Battery life:

It is fitted with a battery that lasts for up to 18 hours when used normally. Besides, it has a highly effective inductive magnetic charger that can recharge the battery within the shortest time possible.

Connectivity:

It ushers you to the next generation of connectivity as the Bluetooth 4.0 keeps you connected to your apple phone. The powerful 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi provides instant access to the internet.

Efficiency:

Has a taptic engine that let you tap in response to an audio cue or any notification coming from the phone. You can dismiss or respond to notifications at ease, get prompt and accurate workout information, record distances, pace, and speed.

Size:

It's small measuring 42mm. It has anodized aluminum chassis. It has a screen measuring 1.5 inches used to display apps and notifications.

4. Pard High Accuracy GPS

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.7
Pard High Accuracy GPS
Accessories
90
Accuracy
92
Features
90
best offer for today
$45.99
Pros:

Can track the calorie bun, heart rate, and sleep quality with a high precision

  • Extensively compatible with iPhone, windows phone, and android enabled phone
  • Cons:
    • The battery does not last long enough

    In this watch, you have a heart, oxygen, blood, and heart beat monitor - all in one GPS device. This GPS will work with your phone via bluetooth to ensure that yo stay up to track with everything that is important to you. Find out more details below.

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    This GPS watch will detect your heart rate, blood rate, and oxygen level. So you are pretty much good too go in terms of keeping track of your health. It will also keep track of your sleep, so that you get enough quality Z's to feel rested for your morning run.

    Not to mention, this watch will also keep track of you daily steps and calories burned throughout the day. Basically, you are wearing a walking personal trainer.

    Not only does this GPS watch keep you on track with your fitness goals, but it also allows you to get notifications via bluetooth.

    5. Polar M430

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    89.3
    Polar M430
    Accessories
    90
    Accuracy
    88
    Battery Life
    89
    Features
    90
    best offer for today
    $173.50
    Pros:

    Has three battery modes to choose from therefore being able to prolong the battery life from 8 hours to 30 hours

    Has an exclusive smart coaching feature that can enable you to learn how to get the most of an exercise session

    Can upload data seamlessly at a touch of a button to your phone or polar flow

    Cons:
    • Takes a while to connect and pair to your phone or other devices
    • Has relatively small screen

    It could be said that it is the leader in regards to measuring the heart rate not only while undertaking sporting activities but also while doing everyday chores. It is designed to sync with the state-of-the-art polar flow software to give an in depth analysis of the heart rate. It stands out of the crowded GPS running watch market as it has six LED light emitting sensors and accelerometer to show you how you’ve run and how fast.

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    Prices:

    The price is high-ended but is compensated by the accurate data in regards to the heart rate provided by the gadget.

    Colors:
    The straps come in different colors and you can choose the best that suits you.

    Efficiency:

    Has unmatched optical heart rate technology that depicts accurate heart rate during a run or while undertaking normal household chores. It uses no chest strap to detect the heart rate that is displayed through LED optical sensors.

    Tracing:
    Tracks distance, speed, route, calorie burn, and sleep.

    Size:
    Comes in a medium size only.

    6. Suunto Ambit3 Vertical

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    88.3
    Suunto Ambit3 Vertical
    Accessories
    90
    Accuracy
    88
    Battery Life
    87
    Features
    88
    best offer for today
    $317.93
    Pros:
    • Has a long battery life when it is fully functional
    • Fitted with the state of the art altimeter and as a result able to monitor real time variation in heights as you train
    • Highly accurate compass device so as to stay on the track

    Cons:
    • Small screen for displaying metrics

    It is designed with elegance and prestige in mind while not compromising on performance. It’s certainly charming and irresistible and would draw to have a second look. It is used together with Suuntomovescount App to get accurate metrics on your training. The most appealing aspect about this gadget is the fact that is sleek and is the smallest smart GPS running watch that uses Bluetooth.

    Read more

    Price:
    It is relatively expensive probably because of the high aesthetic value it carries

    Colors:
    Comes in different shades of colors

    Battery life:
    Has an outstanding battery life of 15h battery hours while fully functional. In addition, it has 5sec-GPS accuracy

    Size:
    Sleek and small making it an ideal watch for runners

    Connectivity:
    It is sync with movescount training programs, it uses wireless Bluetooth connectivity, it can connect to the GPS pretty fast, and highly legible data displays.

    Efficiency:
    Tracks route and traces it back and track heart rate quite accurately. Best for running in ascending terrains as it has altimeters, barometers with real time incline percentage being displayed.

    7. Moto 360 Sport

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    87
    Moto 360 Sport
    Accessories
    88
    Accuracy
    87
    Battery Life
    88
    Features
    85
    best offer for today
    $148.69
    Pros:
    • Can connect instantly to GPS and uses Wi-Fi to connect to other devices and phone
    • Access metric easily without having to reach for your phone
    • Unisex models are available as well as models that are specifically designed for men and women

    Cons:
    • Highly dependent on app 

    This is an exclusive Motorola GPS running watch. If you see a running watch that is flame orange it certainly would be Moto 360 Sport. It’s powerful and is fitted with premium features such as Wi-Fi connectivity, ability to adjust the brightness of the screen based on the surroundings, wireless charging, and is water resistant.

    Read more

    Price:
    It’s affordable, guaranteed to give you the value of your money

    Battery life:
    Has a considerably longer battery life when in use

    Colors:
    Although the prominent flame orange color is dominant you can get the size that meets your taste

    Size:
    It comes in different sizes thus being able to choose from small to a relatively large size. It also has a classic round design with extra thin bezel making it really irresistible.

    Connectivity:
    You can stay connected through a Wi-Fi without access messages, weather, and, news without being interrupted or the need to check your devices or phone.

    Efficiency:
    Tracks heart rate, calories burns, steps, and distances

    8. Fitbit Surge

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    78.7
    Fitbit Surge
    Accuracy
    78
    Battery Life
    78
    Features
    80
    best offer for today
    $158.98
    Pros:
    • Has the ability to track your pace, distances, indicate elevations, and review the tracking routes
    • Has automatic heart rate tracking ability that can start to record data whenever it senses that you are running or cycling. It is sync with Smart-Track and Multi-sports to enable automatic recording

    Cons:
    • Not accurate when it comes to tracking distances as at times uses heartbeats and not GPS to indicate distances.

    It has a GPS built, track your activities, automatically recognize when you are running and start tracking without having to push a button. It works in conjunction with Fitbit Surge app to analyze your metrics.

    Read more

    Price:
    It is relatively cheap, yet it is considered one of the best GPS running watches available today

    Colors:
    You can practically get any color that you want as it has interchangeable straps that come in numerous colors. The common colors include blue, orange, green, white, black, and red.

    Battery life:
    It has up to 7 days of battery life when not connected to GPS and 10 hours when all functions are fully operational. It has a good charge cycle but it varies with settings, usage, and other factors.

    Connectivity:
    It has a wireless connectivity with the ability to connect automatically to computers and android, iOS, and apple smartphones.

    Notifications:
    Comes with excellent notification features where you can see all text and call notifications. Besides, you can select and control all the songs that are on your mobile phone playlist.

    Auto sleep and alarm:
    Fitted with features that can excellently monitor your sleep automatically as well as set a silent alarm.

    Efficiency:
    Has GPS tracking, heart rate tracking, and multi-sport and multi-track devices.

    9. Garmin Forerunner 225

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    78.5
    Garmin Forerunner 225
    Accessories
    78
    Accuracy
    78
    Battery Life
    78
    Features
    80
    best offer for today
    $249.99
    Pros:
    • Effectively track your steps, heart rates, distances, elevations, and calorie burns throughout the day
    • You can get training tips on your wrist as it is compatible with Garmin connect that provide free training plans and advanced workouts

    Cons:
    • Mostly used for indoors activities

    The Garmin Forerunner 225 can be described as a model fit for tracking when performing simple exercise. Equally, it has a vivid graphic interface that allows you to access all the metrics at a go. It is capable not only of tracking heart rates, pace, and distances, but it also tracks beats per minutes, calorie burn, steps and your zones.

    Read more

    Price:
    It is relatively affordable.

    Colors:
    Garmin Forerunner 225 is black and has red accent. It has a colorful display and graphic interface that is optimized to show your beats per minutes, as well as your zones.

    Battery life:
    Considerably good battery life.

    Accessories:
    Has got build in sensor that uses the renowned Mio Heart Rate Technology to record your heart rate from your wrist. Has an accelerometer that is in-built to indicate as well as record all your indoor distances.

    Connectivity:
    Connect to the social platform through Garmin’s online community and share your experiences. It automatically connects and uploads data through Garmin connect.

    Efficiency:
    Track distances, heart rates, indoor paces, and monitors your steps.

    Additional features:
    Utilizes colorful graphics to display metrics thus promoting legibility of data. You can tell your zones and the beats per minutes in a single glance through the colorful graphics. It uses green color to indicate aerobic zones, gray for warm up, blue for easy, orange for threshold, and red to indicate the maximum.

    10. Pebble 2

    The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
    78.3
    Pebble 2
    Accessories
    78
    Accuracy
    78
    Battery Life
    79
    Features
    78
    best offer for today
    $78.99
    Pros:
    • It is cheap
    • It is durable
    • Has a long battery life
    • It is water resistant up to 30 meters below the water level

    Cons:
    • It takes time to establish a wireless connection

    If you are looking for an all-round functional GPS watch at a lower cost, then Pebble 2 would be the best option for you. It is flexible and offers you the ability to track sleep, steps, and monitor your daily ability with accuracy. You can comfortably connect to thousands of Apps.

    Read more

    Price:
    It is cheap yet offers all the functionality of GPS running watch.

    Colors:
    Black color is dominant

    Battery life:
    It can stay up to 7 days when not connected to a GPS on a single charge and a couple of hours when it is fully functioning.

    Connectivity:
    Enables you to stay connected while on the move as you can access text, calls, emails, and social notifications. Besides, you can do voice texting right from your wrist. Connected with Pebbles health platform to give accurate figures about your heart rates, steps, calorie burns and all day activity.

    Criteria Used for Evaluation

    Accessories

    A GPS running watch is a must have accessory if you want to take your training or running to the next level. With A GPS watch, you can be able to track your location, pace, steps, heart rates, and distances. Besides, you can stay connected without necessarily having to walk with your phone as it provides instant text, call, and email notifications. In a nutshell, a GPS watch can do a lot of things that can enhance your training or running experience.

    Accuracy

    One of the key factors that you should take into consideration when choosing a GPS running watch is the ability of the watch to give you accurate running dynamics. Choose a watch that has high sensitivity to ground sensitivity whether you are using a footpod or not. This is particularly useful because a watch with a high sensitivity to running dynamics such as cadence, pace, and strikes as it will give you near accurate metrics.

    The GPS watch that you choose should be preferably fitted with a device to indicate the vertical oscillation. The device is useful as it will tell you the degree of bounce while you are exercising or running.

    Battery Life

    How we all wish that the battery life in our gadgets would never run out. But sadly it is not so, and GPS running watch is not an exception. What then should you consider in regard to battery life when choosing a good GPS watch? To begin with, choose a watch that has the longest battery life. Particularly, if you are a marathon runner choose a GPS running watch that lasts longer than your longest marathon run.

    Secondly, choose a watch that has multimodal devices that help you regulate how you use power. With such a device you can switch from high, middle, as well as low consumption depending on the demand at that particular time. It is also prudent to turn off your GPS when you are not engaged in exercise that needs the use of GPS.

    Features

    Choose a GPS running watch that will not only track your pace, heartbeat or location but will also be your coach. The good news is that there is a number of GPS watches on the market today that comes with pre-installed coaching sessions. For instance, TomTom sparks come with training sessions that you can conveniently access before going out to exercise.

    Brands like polar and Garmin are loaded with comprehensive marathon training programs. If you would like to take full and half marathon it would be advisable to get this too watches. Even better you can get a GPS watch that you can customize by creating interval sessions that are appropriate for you. You can create infinite sessions depending on the type of exercise you are engaged in.

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    Keep yourself organized

    GPS watches are also known as smartwatches and have many different features and apps you can download to help keep you organized and on schedule. They are known for being used for fitness and sports purposes and can track your calories and even your heart rate. They also track your shoe mileage which is really a steps count for runners or walkers to help you know exactly how many miles you have hit. With certain GPS watches you can even track your own work outs and keep a daily log of each routine.

    Other Factors to Consider

    Effectiveness

    Running GPS watch can only be considered effective if it has exclusive GPS functionality. It’s obvious that there is not a device that provides 100% metrics based entirely on GPS input, but it’s all about who is nearest to it. As a result, choose a running GPS watch that would provide almost accurate stats.

    At the same time, have a running GPS that can be customized according to the type of sport or activity that you would like to do. For instance, if you are a marathon runner your watch should have good GPS efficiency so as to be able to excellently track paths, changes in altitudes, and distance that you have covered.

    Portability

    Once you have considered all that your needs, you should take into consideration the size as well as the weight of running GPS watch. Preferably you should choose a running watch that is sleek and light particularly if you are involved in intensive training.

    Since different companies that manufacture GPS watches produce gadgets that vary in size and weight, you should choose the one that suits you, but at least it should be portable.

    Update

    If you want to have the ultimate training experience, your running GPS watch should be in a position to upload as well as synchronize with other third party apps. With the ability to connect to third party apps you will be in a position to connect with other athletes all over the world in just a touch of a button.

    Besides, you should be in a position to upload data as well as have your workout stats stored in online apps. This is important as it will allow you to take a look at your previous stats and compare them as you progress with your training. This is an important feature so ensure that your running GPS watch should have it and it should be effectively functioning.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    q: Why does my GPS watch lag?
    a:

    All the running GPS watches tend to take at least some time before they can connect to your location map. The time taken for any device to connect to another device or app is usually called lag time. If your friend is using a first generation of running GPS watches he or she would certainly experience a longer lag time. It is advisable to get the latest models of running GPS watches as they experience shorter lag time.

    q: Can I use a GPS watch to track my training?
    a:

    As much as you can use a smart phone to track your running, it comes nothing close to running GPS when it comes to efficiency. Smart phones are not as accurate and lack ease of use when compared to the smart GPS watch.

    Besides, a running GPS watch is portable and you can strap easily to your wrist, unlike a smartphone that you may need a special pouch to hold it while you exercise. Get one and get a training experience like no other.

    q: What are the essential features that a running GPS watch should have?
    a:

    A smart running GPS watch should have at least a barometer, digital compass, altimeter, and thermometer.

    The barometer is used to measure the humidity of your training location. It is important to be on top of the weather especially if you are exercising on a hillside or lakeside where there is a potential threat of storms.

    The altimeter on the other side is an important feature as it monitors all the changes in the altitude and all the accompanying changes in weather elements. By tracking your training, you can be able to tell the best altitude that is optimum for you to train.

    q: Do I need a digital compass on my GPS watch
    a:

    The need for accurate digital compass cannot be overstated. This is particularly important if you are training in a back country or plain country. In addition, if you are trying out a new track it is necessary to have a compass direction so as to avoid getting lost.

    q: What devices are compatible with a GPS watch?
    a:

    Running GPS watches have grown in leaps and bounces and you can practically sync with thousands of apps out there. Also, you can connect to your phone or even better your computer through a wireless connection. Some of the common wireless connections used by running GPS watch include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

    q: Is it better to get an expensive GPS watch?
    a:

    It is not necessarily true that the more expensive a running GPS watch is the more efficient it is. In a nutshell, expensive doesn’t imply the best. The best running GPS watch is one that meets your expectations. In fact there some running GPS watches that are sold cheaply but are versatile and really powerful. So choose a running GPS watch that meets your specifications. For instance, a long marathon runner may find a cheap running GPS watch with long battery life more useful than an expensive GPS watch with many features but has a short battery life. So, it is better you understand specification you need from GPS watch to make a better choice.

    q: How can I prolong the battery life of my GPS watch?
    a:

    here are some tips that you can prolong the battery life of your running GPS watch. To begin with, you can disable the GPS when you are not involved in any active training activities. This would preserve your battery life by a couple of days.