As a runner, jogger, speed-walker, or athlete, you’re likely in search of ways to better your running performance. Smartwatches and basic fitness trackers are a valuable tool for runners and casual joggers alike by letting you get the most out of your runs. This can help you reach your running or overall fitness goals faster and keep you motivated for success.
You can use smartwatches and fitness trackers in various ways to improve your running performance. But first, keep in mind the difference between smartwatches and fitness trackers when it comes to data and running metrics.
Find our comprehensive review of the best running watches of 2022 here!
Smartwatches Vs. Fitness Trackers for Runners
Your choice between the two pieces of wearable tech does make a difference in what you’ll get out of your running watch.
Smartwatches generally have more features than fitness trackers. Take the Samsung Galaxy Watch4, Apple Watch 7, or Garmin Forerunner 945, for example. These smartwatches are considered top of the line, with price tags to match. These three smartwatches all have LTE (do it all: take calls, send texts, all while out for a jog!), GPS sensors, music storage, all the health monitoring features, and several running workout modes you could track. This will definitely improve your running because you have one less device to stress over!
Garmin even has entire series designed for runners. The 945 is one of several Forerunners, all with their own unique features. The Garmin, Samsung, Apple, or Fitbit smartwatches are great for runners and more serious athletic runners. And if you have the money, then they are worth it! But fitness trackers can fulfill basic running-tracking needs, too. You won’t get nearly as many features, but you will end up spending less money. Some trackers lack GPS, some lack health monitoring sensors; the features vary by brand.
How Can smartwatches Improve Your Running Performance?
They Help Monitor Your Heart Rate
Heart rate monitoring is standard on most watches and is a feature that can tell you a lot about how you run. More specifically, it can tell you about how you’re breathing. If you’re not breathing properly, your heart rate will be off, and you could risk over-exerting yourself. Knowing to what level you can push your heart rate to in order to burn fat, say, can literally save your life. If you’re overdoing yourself on a run, your heart rate will be the first indicator.
They Provide Recovery Data to Improve Running Performance
Many smartwatches have recovery mode, which can help tell you how much time you need to relax or when you need to take it down a notch. After your runs, you’ll be able to see how long it takes your heart rate to return to its resting rate, or your Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Fitbit even has a Daily Readiness Score with their Premium add-on. The DRS shows users if the day is suitable for exercise, including runs, based on their heart rate data, sleep data, and HRV; it also shows workout recovery data, and an intensity guide for breathing.
Recovery and readiness data are an excellent way to improve your running performance by ensuring you get into good routines with your workout and sleep schedule, which can help to make your runs more effective, too!
They Offer GPS Guides for Route Mapping
If you run a lot, or go for jogs in more remote areas, then it is helpful to be able to track your routes each time you go out. This is possible with both fitness trackers and smartwatches. Some smartwatches enable you to leave your phone at home and have their own GPS/GLONASS sensors, while others, and trackers, need your phone to be on you during the run. No matter the case, having your routes mapped out can make workouts more convenient, more efficient, and more of an adventure!
Read more about the best GPS smartwatches here.
They Track Many Running Statistics
Many smartwatches these days can keep track of a lot more than your total run time or distance. You may also be able to track specific running performance stats like cadence, lap time, or pace. If you’re a marathon runner, or just enjoy jogging on a regular basis, these data sets can show you where your runs can improve, where you can push yourself harder, or can let you know if you’ve accomplished a personal running goal!
Altimeters are standard on smartwatches but are not as common on fitness trackers. An altimeter will track any elevation you gain or lose on a run or jog and can tell you where on your route to expect inclines or a downhill portion.
They Offer “Workouts” for Different Types of Running
A smartwatch or fitness tracker can pinpoint better data by using various types of running workouts. On something basic like the Fitbit Luxe, you can choose between a simple run, or a treadmill run. But on more advanced smartwatches like a Samsung Galaxy or Apple Watch 7, you can take the running tracking further with workout modes like a Running Coach and Hiking.
Garmin’s Forerunner series, and many of their other top-of-the-line smartwatches offer a whole suite of running features and modes like Running, Outdoor Track Running, Treadmill Running, Indoor Track Running, Trail Running, and Virtual Running.
Last Updated on June 2, 2022
Bernadette has a bachelor’s degree in Communications from MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (where she lives). She has a passion for writing and we like her contribution and style to our blog. Bernadette loves the outdoors and things like hiking, camping, and biking. Wishing she could travel more.
Bernadette is an editor, writer and proofreader for Superwatches. Currently lives in Alberta Canada.