Best Watch For Runners - Timex Vs Garmin Vs Polar

Top Picks of the Best Watch for Running by Timex, Polar and Garmin

Looking for the best watch for runners? This article shares my research after buying a running watch for my husband. It gives summaries of the best watches from the brands, Timex, Garmin and Polar. The best running watch for you will depend on how many features you want, need and will use balanced with the price you want to pay.

This article compares the latest running watches in 2014.

Garmin Forerunner watches are well known for their accurate GPS and many of their watches have excellent training aids such as virtual partner to help with pacing and to reach your training goals. Garmin pretty much dominates the market with several makes of running watches. The main ones featured in the article include the Forerunner 620 which has a touchscreen interface and some fantastic features for advanced runners . Another option is the Forerunner 10 which is a great budget option. It is much cheaper than other Garmin watches but it does forego the heart rate monitor and some training tools.

To make matters more complicated there are several other Garmin forerunners to choose from. I have given a rundown of a several forerunners available in the article too. You will pay a little bit more with these watches for the extra features.

Timex has the Run Trainer 2.0 which is another good budget buy and has an excellent easy to use interface and easy to read screen. There are also some good features for advanced users so it's a great watch for all levels of runner.

Polar has also released their first watch with inbuilt GPS. Polar is well known for the accurate heart rate monitors on their watches and if you're looking for a watch the offers the ability to analyse your workouts in relation to heart rate the RC3 Polar watch mentioned in the article is a good choice. They also offer some great ways to analyse your training date to help prove the effectiveness of your workout sessions.

Read on for an indepth analysis of the best watches by Timex, Garmin and Polar below.

If you're looking for the best watch for runners read on.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /

Garmin Forerunner Watches

Garmin has a wide range of GPS running watches in it's forerunner range.

The 3 watches below cover a budget watch (Forerunner 10), a mid range watch (Forerunner 220) and the top of the range forerunner (Forerunner 620)

All three have the advantage of being able to connect to Garmin Connect. This allows you to see your run on a map, track your run and share it with friends on social networking sites.

Garmin Forerunner 10

The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a great choice if you're looking for a good running watch around the $100 mark and you don't want a heart monitor with your watch. It does lack some of the more advanced features of other running watches, but if you're looking for a simple running watch on a budget, it's a great choice.

What the Garmin 10 offers is a high sensitive GPS receiver which connects quickly. It will record you position, speed, time and calories and can display two pieces of data at one time.

It is simple and easy to use. It's light and fairly small so nice to wear when running. More advanced runners will enjoy features such as the virtual pacer which compares your current running pace to a target that you have set.

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220 - Black/Red Bundle (Includes Heart Rate Monitor)
Garmin Forerunner 220 - Black/Red Bundle (Includes Heart Rate Monitor)

The Garmin Forerunner 220 is actually my pick of running watch for 2014 when looking at features for your money. It's a mid range price Forerunner for keen runners which is lighter and thinner than it's predecessor the 210.

It is one of 2 Garmin watches recently released that features a color screen (the other is the 620 featured below). This makes it easier to interpret your data at a glance.

It tracks distance, pace and heart rate. If you like running indoors or on a treadmill it also features an accelerometer so you can track your pace and distance inside or when GPS is unavailable. Like many Garmin watches you can adust the display screen to show the exact data you want to see on your run. You can configure two different screens with the data you want and scroll through them during yoru run..

Other great features include auto lap, ability to create goal setting workouts, and a vibrating alert if you differ from your preset pace.


Garmin Forerunner 620 with Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin Forerunner 620 - Black/Blue Bundle (Includes Heart Rate Monitor)
Garmin Forerunner 620 - Black/Blue Bundle (Includes Heart Rate Monitor)

This watch is a top of the range Garmin Forerunner and is for the advanced runner who desires the most advanced features and has a big budget.

The watch is a touchscreen and has a color display. It tracks distance, pace and heart rate. It's light (at 40 grams) and has access to a Virtual partner which you can set to race at a certain speed.

For advanced runners, it offers the ability to analyse your running style to help you improve in future runs. So for example, it features an accelerometer which you can use to see how much time you foot is in contact with the ground and how high you bounce.

Another exciting feature is the watch can estimate a VO2 Max reading when used with a heart rate monitor. A VO2 max reading indicates the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute, per kilogram of body weight at your max performance. It estimates you VO2 max from data such as running speed, beats per minute and heart rate variability to see how much oxygen you consume so it can predict how fast you could run over certain distances.

The 620 can also estimate the recovery time you need between runs.


More Garmin Forerunner Watches

Here are more Garmin forerunner watches with even more features.

Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS-Enabled Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor (Red)
Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS-Enabled Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor (Red)

The Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS is on the next price point up from the 10, so what do you get extra for your money?

Probably the best thing about this compared to the 10 is that it's compatible with a heart rate monitor. You may not think it's something you'd benefit from now but if there's a possibility this may change it's probably worth spending the extra money.

It also has a slightly longer battery life in training mode of 8 hours.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT Waterproof USB Stick and Heart Rate Monitor, Gray/Orange
Garmin Forerunner 310XT Waterproof USB Stick and Heart Rate Monitor, Gray/Orange

Best for multisport.

- Up to 20 hour battery life (longer than -better if you run longer races like triatholons)

- Fully water resistant for pool and open-water training.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS-Enabled Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS-Enabled Sport Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

GPS watch which is best for multisport atheletes. It has a 14 hour battery life so great for longer training sessions and events too.

Features include swim metrics, including distance, efficiency, stroke type and stroke count

Fully water resistant for pool and open-water training

Tracks time, distance, pace, elevation and heart rate on land


Timex Run Trainer 2.0

Timex Unisex T5K745 Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 GPS Speed+Distance Gray/Green Watch
Timex Unisex T5K745 Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 GPS Speed+Distance Gray/Green Watch

Timex has come along way with GPS running watches and it's latest version has a lot of functional updates.

It's currently selling at about $142.49 which is slightly more expensive that Garmin 10. So is it worth a look in comparison - I would say, yes.

It's has a longer battery life (8 hours vs 5 hours). It also features a stopwatch which the Garmin 10 doesnt'.

It's currently selling at about $142.49 which is slightly more expensive that Garmin 10.

LIke the forerunner 10, the screen is easy to read. It can show 2 or 3 pieces of data clearly at the same time. The Garmin 10 can only show 2 pieces of data at one time which can be an inconvenience if you want to see time, distance and pace on one screen on the Garmin 10.

The watch's menu is easy to navigate, making it easy to change settings and a great choice for beginners.

Advanced users will also like its more advanced functions such as interval timers and auto lap features.

It also offers vibrating alerts for pace, speed and distance which can help with interval training and which the Garmin forerunner 10 doesn't have. The vibrating alerts are particularly useful if you like to listen to music while you run.

There is also memory to record your last 15 runs.

Some reviews do say that GPS connection is a little slow which is obvioulsy a bit of a disadvantage. The Garmin 10 is also lighter.

It's compatible with ANT+ sensors too. (heart rate, foot pod)


Polar RC3

Polar has now introduced GPS to their watches such as the RC3 but being in the mid price range it does have a lot of competition.

However, if you want to use heart rate to guide your workouts a polar watch is a good choice. Although you can get the Polar RC3 without the heart rate monitor if you wish.

Polar RC3 GPS Sports Watch
Polar RC3 GPS Sports Watch

This GPS watch is a good watch to analyse your training. You get an instant feedback after your training session which a short summary of what you've accomplished in your session. You also get a running index score which looks at your heart rate and speed distance and gives you a number - a higher number means you can run faster with less effort.

There's also, a free online training diary where you can analyse your workouts.

It's currently available for around $214 which is a similar price point to the forerunner 220. It features a rechargeable 12 hour battery compared to a 10 hour battery on the 220. It does some extra things such as measures elevation on your run and can upload maps to your watch (good if you want to explore new places). If you cycle as well as run, this watch is a good option as it features a cadence sensor.

But it does lack some of the 220s features including an accelerometer and vibrating alerts. The RC3 just has audible alerts. The 220 is also smaller and lighter.


Want More Running Watches?

If you're still looking for more options of running watches, here are a couple more choices.

Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom (Black)
Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom (Black)

The GPS is powered by Tom Tom so you should get your GPS signal quickly.

It tracks your time, distance, pace or speed, beats per minute (BPM) heart rate (with optional HRM sensor sold separately by Polar) and calories burned


Top Pick of Best Watch For Runners

My top pick for the best running watch is the Garmin Forerunner 620 if you have the money and running is serious for you. However, for most runners the Garmin Forerunner 220 offers a great combination of value and functionality. A budget choice would be between the Garmin 10 and the Timex run trainer 2.0. The Garmin 10 has excellent reviews, has access to Garmin Connect and is great for simple running watch for beginners but I like the extra features the run trainer offers such as vibrating alerts and the fact you can display 3 pieces of data at one time.

Of course is the best watch for you will really depend on the features that are the most important. If price is your main concern and the extra features won't make too much difference to your training, go for the forerunner 10. If cycling and running are both important to you, the Polar RC3 may be the best choice. A multi-sport athlete should check out the Garmin 910.

I hope this article has been useful. Happy running!

More Reviews and Articles

Still unsure or unconvinced about which running watch to get? Here are some more articles which you may find of interest.

Why Get a Running GPS Watch?

Find out more about how a running GPS watch can help your training.

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Feedback on Best Watch For Runners 2014 34 comments

anonymous 4 years ago

nice list, Louise. I think Garmin 305 is the best. There's also a good list you can find at which looks pretty similar to this

sjplatt 4 years ago

Like your posts Louise! I still like anything by Timex, classic watches!

herculeafitness1 4 years ago

I've been on the lookout for a new running watch. Great lens and very helpful information about the best watch for runners. Thanks Louise.

anonymous 4 years ago

thanks for the tips on watches for runner I am currently on the hunt for one thanks

jewellery-junkies 4 years ago

They Garmin Forerunner 305 looks like my kind of watch! Mens watches often come with a stopwatch but there's nothing like a specialised watch for recording your runner data.

mercin12 profile image

mercin12 4 years ago

I've recently begun running and would love one of these watches. Thanks for the reviews!

seosmm 4 years ago

Very nice lens!

johnnywatson3 4 years ago

nice lens.. I need to get one of those for the heart rate monitor. P90x is a killer

anonymous 4 years ago

Nice Lens

Edutopia 4 years ago

Nice lens, I've always been particular to Garmin myself as well.

RunToWork 3 years ago

I use the Garmin Forerunner 305 and it's excellent. Great lens!

JoshK47 3 years ago

Good info! Thanks for sharing!

agoofyidea profile image

agoofyidea 3 years ago

I'm looking for a running watch so I appreciate the information.

jewellery-junkies 3 years ago

Like Timex watches for sports! great lens on the watches brands for runners though.

Rangoon House profile image

Rangoon House 3 years ago from Australia

I have a Polar gadget from a hundred years ago - thank you for some wonderful updating suggestions.

Stacy Birch profile image

Stacy Birch 3 years ago

Nice selection, good work.

Stacy Birch profile image

Stacy Birch 3 years ago

Nice selection, good work.

jcj1677 profile image

jcj1677 3 years ago

Nice, thanks!

Carashops profile image

Carashops 3 years ago

Thanks for doing the research. Great lens.

anonymous 3 years ago

Great page. Thoroughly researched.

anonymous 3 years ago

Thanks for putting so much time in this lens! I'm currently looking for a decent running watch and this definitely helps :-)

maxclick 3 years ago

There's also now a new cheaper Garmin running watch on the market:

BrendanSanlatte 3 years ago

I have the Timex Ironman. You can't beat it for the price.

anonymous 3 years ago

I like garmin forerunner 10 :)

golfgpswatch lm profile image

golfgpswatch lm 3 years ago

Great watch lens. I have wriiten one on golf gps watches, but really like the way your lens flows.

OneHappyFeet profile image

OneHappyFeet 3 years ago

good summaries

ZackBromberg profile image

ZackBromberg 3 years ago

I've had a Polar for years. Actually, my dad stopped using it, so I took it. :)

mrdata profile image

mrdata 3 years ago

Great ideas for Christmas Gifts! Cool selection! Happy Holidays!

bengraham 3 years ago

always been a garmin fan- still got a forerunner 305 and has never let me down

uttv_LT 3 years ago

i think garmin is the best :) and nice lens :)

abouthealthtips profile image

abouthealthtips 3 years ago

Thanks for the review. I've been looking at various ones online but really haven't made up my mind which one to get. Cheers

crossroadsblogg profile image

crossroadsblogg 3 years ago

i own a garmin forerunner 305 and my running buddy owns a Polar RS300X. For us 305 is the best running watch for us because it keep track of our running phase, distance, heart rate and timing. out of 10, 305 score perfect!

anonymous 3 years ago

I have a Garmin 310XT used for marathon running and ocean kayaking. Its great however the distances are recording consistently too long. My last 42.2 km marathon was recorded at 42.95km. This also means that the km splits are inaccurate.

YaronYaron 22 months ago

@anonymous: I know it's been more tan a year since you wrote it. I have the same problem with my 310XT. Garmin even exchanged it with a new one a year ago and I have the same problem. However, none of my friends experience the same difference. I wonder if you found any solution or successfully tried another watch. Please let me know at rosenboim@gmail.comThanks!

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