One of the best things about being a runner is that you don't need much to get your workout on. All you really need is to lace up your running shoes and you're off. There's no fancy equipment, no expensive coaching lessons, no complicated technique. It's just you and the road -- or treadmill, if the weather's bad. 

Whether you hate to run with a phone in hand or attached to you (raises hand), or you want to trade in your old Casio for a smartwatch that can do a little more than tell time, the best smartwatches for runners do everything you could dream of and more. Map your runs, track your pace (and get alerted when you start to slow down or speed up too much), and even just play your favorite tempo playlist without needing to bring your phone with you. 

Best smartwatch for runners overall: Garmin Forerunner 965


The Garmin Forerunner 965 tracks every metric a runner could possibly need including pace, time and distance, of course, but also cadence, ground contact time, stride length, vertical oscillation (the amount of bounce in your step) and vertical ratio. It also tracks key health metrics like heart rate, breathing and VO2 max to measure how much effort you're exerting to maintain your current pace. 

Your log of past runs will not only include those details metrics but also key data about the running conditions like the route, elevation, temperature, time of day and more. When it comes time for your next race, it can use all that data from your past runs to predict your finishing time based on your fitness level and past performance in similar weather conditions. 

One of the most notable features is a continuously updated training readiness score based on your sleep quality, recovery status, training load and other data to help you decide when to run and how hard to push yourself. 

The Forerunner 965 also gives you a real-time stamina score while you run, letting you know how much effort you're currently putting in and estimating how much stamina you have left before you reach exhaustion. That way, you can adjust your pace up or down as needed to make sure you perform your best without burning out before you reach the finish line.

Top features of Garmin Forerunner 965:

  • You can create round-trip courses right from your wrist.
  • Create custom triathlon or multisport profiles so you can switch between activities during a single training session with a press of a button. 
  • Get custom training plans tailored to the exact race you're training for, and then let the watch automatically adapt that plan to your current fitness level and your target finish time. 
  • The battery lasts up to 23 days so you don't have to worry about it dying on you in mid-run.
  • The daily suggested workouts adapt after every run based on your fitness level and recovery needs.
  • A morning report gives you an overview of your sleep quality, recovery status and training readiness as you start your day.
$559 at Amazon

Best smartwatch for trail runners: Polar Grit X Pro


Famous for offering best-in-class heart rate monitors, Polar is a pioneer in fitness tracking. So it's hard to go wrong with any of the running watches in its lineup. With that said, the Polar Grit X Pro is our favorite for off-roading.

This running watch from Polar packs all of the brand's most advanced training and recovery features inside a lightweight yet military-grade tough running watch --including a scratch-resistant touch display and 10 ATM water resistance.

If you've signed up for an ultra marathon, the long battery life is a must. It can last up to 40 hours in GPS mode (and up to seven days in smartwatch mode) so you'll be able to enjoy turn-by-turn navigation and route tracking from start to finish.

Trail runners will also appreciate route planning, elevation profiles, automatic climb detection and other navigation features that make it easy to go off-road without getting lost. With TrackBack, you can even wander off your beaten path and let your watch navigate you back to your starting point.

Every runner regardless of where they run will appreciate the advanced training features which include VO2 Max estimates, training load, training effect, benchmarking tests and so much more. With everything this watch tracks, you'll get in-depth insights into your performance and personalized recommendations on how to optimize your training.

Top features of the Polar Grit X Pro:

  • This running watch is durable and packed with all the features a trail runner needs to track their runs and navigate their way home after.
  • Advanced running metrics and personalized recommendations make it easy to analyze your performance and optimize your training.
  • Sleep tracking and recovery features (like muscle recovery tests) monitor how effectively your body is recovering after a run, helping you avoid over-training. 
$530 at Amazon

Best smartwatch for runners on a budget: Coros Pace 3


If you want the advanced training features of a Garmin or Polar watch without the price tag, your best bet is the Coros Pace 3. At $229, the latest generation of the Coros Pace is less than half the price of the Garmin Forerunner 965 and Polar Grit X Pro. 

Yet it still offers some of the most advanced health and fitness features on the market, including a recovery score, training load, fatigue, marathon readiness score and so much more. And you don't need to pay a premium for the smartwatch or an ongoing monthly subscription to access them. 

The Coros Pace 3 even offers on-demand blood oxygen readings and will adjust based on your altitude (a factor that can impact blood oxygen levels). That makes it one of the few smartwatches with blood oxygen tracking that will let you track it during the day. 

The smartwatch also comes with free training plans and workouts, plus access to an advanced training hub on your desktop or phone that analyzes your past workouts and health data to give you detailed insights into your progress.

In addition to advanced running metrics, another standout feature is its navigation system. Not only can you map your run and get back-to-start navigation when you're ready to head home, but you'll also get deviation alerts when you stray from the route you're following. 

You can also get alerts when your pace, heart rate or other metrics go above or below your target during the run so you can adjust accordingly to get the best results.

Top features of Coros Pace 3:

  • The watch can track heart rate, VO2 Max, training load, threshold zones, recovery, fatigue and more key performance and health metrics.
  • Get free access to super advanced health and fitness features like Coros training hub, EvoLab and tons of free training plans and workouts.
  • Get real-time personalized insights on whether you're over or under training, how much progress you're making toward your fitness goal, and how much longer you need to recover from your last workout.
  • Create custom workouts on your phone and download them to your watch.
  • The fitness test mode gives you a baseline measure of current fitness level to design a more personalized training plan.
  • The battery lasts up to 30 hours with activity tracking and full GPS or 20 days with normal daily use.
$229 at Amazon

Best smartwatch for daily use: Apple Watch Series 9


The Apple Watch 9 features advanced health sensors and apps. You can take an ECG, measure heart rate and track temperature changes for advanced insights into your menstrual cycle. This latest version of Apple's popular smartwatch also adds vertical oscillation, stride length and ground contact time for even more detailed insights into your running performance. 

With the new Siri Health upgrade, starting a new workout and getting status updates along the way is a breeze with the Apple Watch 9. Instead of navigating the watch screen, just say "Siri, start an outdoor run workout." Your new watch will immediately start tracking the activity, even when you're not connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular network.

You can also create custom workouts with intervals to get alerted when its time to speed up, slow down, take a rest or begin your cool down session. 

But what makes it especially useful for runners is the ability to leave everything at home when you take this watch. It can be your music player, fitness tracker, wallet and communication device all in one. 

The Apple Watch 9 is at the center of an international trade dispute between Apple and another tech company, but as of now, you can get the redesigned version without the pulse oximeter at Amazon and Walmart.

Top features of Apple Watch Series 9:

  • Take an ECG anytime
  • Apple Fitness + app (three months free) offers new ways to train and gives deeper metrics into your body's performance
  • Use Apple Wallet on the go so you can step out for a run without anything more than your Apple Watch.
  • Enjoy performance metrics tailored specifically to runners, including cadence, vertical oscillation, stride length and ground contact time. 
  • Personalize the fitness features by connecting the watch to your favorite apps.
  • Follow workouts, listen to music and more without keeping your phone on you.
$383 and up at Amazon

Best smartwatch for runners under $100: Amazfit Bip 5


If you're looking for the best smartwatch under $100, look no further than the 4.2-star-rated Amazfit Bip 5. An Amazon bestseller, this budget watch has a lot of the same features that pricier watches do. You can use it to answer calls (via Bluetooth), track your blood oxygen and stress levels, monitor your sleep quality, log all your workouts automatically with auto-detect and more. Amazon Alexa is built in for voice commands and smart home control.

While it lacks some of the more advanced running metrics that you can find in other watches on this list, it has enough for a beginner or a casual runner who's more interested in tracking runs than chasing PBs. With GPS tracking, pace, distance, heart rate and a few other key running metrics and features, you can track all the basic data for each run.

You can get the surprisingly feature-rich smartwatch at Amazon for $89.

Top features of the Amazfit Bip 5:

  • It features a large 1.91-inch screen. (It's noticeably bigger than the Apple Watch 9.)
  • Get GPS tracking along with basic running metrics like pace, distance and heart rate.
  • It lasts for 10 days on a single charge with normal usage, or up to 26 days in its battery saver mode.
  • The under $100 price point is hard to beat, especially considering its advanced feature set.
  • Use the built-in Amazon Alexa to set timers, check the weather, get translations and more.
$89 at Amazon

More top-rated smartwatches for runners:

What every runner should look for in a smartwatch

Ask most runners what they like about running, aside from the 30-minutes-later endorphin rush, they'll often say they love the freedom of being unencumbered when they hit the ground running. If your main goal is to keep your running gear light, look for a smartwatch that can do what you need without your phone there, like the Apple Watch 9 with LTE which can connect to a cell signal on its own to let you call, text, listen to music, use Apple Pay and sync your latest run to your app all while you're phone's sitting safely at home. 

If you're a trail runner, look for one with robust GPS features and durable design, like the Polar Grit X Pro, so you can be free to follow your feet wherever they take you while your watch maps your route and helps you find your way back when it's time to head home. 

And for runners who are all about performance and setting their next PR, get a metric-heavy watch like the Garmin Forerunner 965 or budget-friendly Coros Pace 3 which both track cadence, stride length, and ground contact time on top of the standard performance metrics like distance, time and pace. 

We like to think of a running smartwatch as a tiny on-arm track coach, that can give you interval feedback time, tell you if your heart rate is too high or too low and keep you connected so you don't have to miss a day of training when someone needs to get ahold of you.