Running watches have advanced a long way, in a very short time. What used to be very basic devices that tracked little more than time and distance can now track and record more information than the average runner can even comprehend. Is it all necessary though? Let’s go over the reasons why a good running watch can be an invaluable tool for your training.
Time, Distance, and Pace
These are the simplest numbers that can be expected of a running watch, but having a quality watch can make a big difference. A good quality running watch will give you the most accurate results. If your distance is off in your watch, that is also going to throw your pace off slightly. When training to run a new personal best, every second matters.
GPS Location and Mapping
A quality running watch will give you a reliable GPS signal, which will give you accurate locations, and route maps that are actually where you ran. Cheaper watches don’t always have very reliable GPS results, and your maps will show it. They will often zig-zag back and forth, cut entire corners off your route, or get you lost if you’re relying on them for navigation. If it isn’t showing you exactly where you are, it can be very hard to know where to take your next turn.
One of the single greatest features of running watches is programmable workouts. Being able to program your workouts into your watch before you head out is a game changer. For example, a speed workout will tell you how fast to run and for how long, and will let you know when your cooldown period starts. No more constantly looking at your phone or watch and trying to do math, all while trying to actually do your speed workout.
Sharing Stats With Your Coach
Being able to send a workout with all its statistics to your coach means they can see exactly how your run went, even if they don’t live anywhere near you. In the past, even if you had an in-person coach, they could still only learn from your workout whatever they could see with their eyes, record with a stopwatch, and gather from the runner after. Now they can see every single detail of your workout and how it affected your body, and adjust your training plan accordingly to achieve your best results.
If you run alone often, or in places that are not heavily trafficked, having a watch that will call for help if there is an emergency can be the difference between life and death. Most newer running watches have this feature. Even if you never have to use it, just knowing it’s there is often enough to ease a lot of runners’ minds. (Note – Most watches require you to have your phone, and cell service, for this feature to work)
Keeping Track of Other Health Stats
Besides all of the numbers they track during a run or workout, modern running watches track an array of basic body stats, such as sleep, breathing rates, resting heart rate, stress levels, and even blood oxygen levels on some higher-end watches. Knowing other statistics like these can help you get a better idea of how your body is reacting to your training regimen, and if you’re recovering properly between runs.
One feature that is available on more and more watch models is the ability to store music. By having music on your watch (and a pair of Bluetooth headphones) you can leave your phone at home and still take your favorite music with you.
While it is entirely possible to be a successful runner without a running watch, having one (and knowing how to use it properly) can make a huge difference in your training. Even having a low-budget running watch from a reliable brand can be enough to help elevate your training to the next level. The more information you have, the more you can use it to tune your training for maximum results.