Garmin has long been recognized as the leading brand when it comes to running watches. Specializing in GPS technology, it creates high-quality products with a reputation for accuracy and is the number one choice for athletes who are serious about their performance.
No other sports watches deliver as much as Garmins when it comes to stats, with the Connect app providing every conceivable metric you could need.
From best pace and average cadence to stride length and maximum elevation, you’ll gain an in-depth understanding of your runs that will help you achieve your training goals.
So what is the best Garmin watch for running?
Whilst the Forerunner series is the line aimed most at runners, there are others in the company’s range that are seriously worth considering too. To help narrow down your choices, we’ve done the research for you and put together this list of the best Garmins for running.
The 7 Best Garmin Runners Watches In 2023
Main Features of the best Garmin Runners watches
The majority of Garmin’s wearables have superb GPS features – and that includes all the watches in this guide. GPS watches provide accurate information about your pace, distance, and other metrics while you run – without having to carry a phone.
They also offer advanced heart rate monitoring, with the optical monitor consistently sampling your heart rate multiple times per second. This allows for more in-depth reporting of your fitness metrics than provided by many other smartwatches.
Other features include:
Smart Watch Capabilities
The best Garmin runners watches keep you connected to your social media accounts and notify you of alerts. This means there’s no need for your phone on your run! You will also receive notifications when text messages, phone calls, and emails come in.
The Garmin Connect Companion App
This is an excellent tool that helps you decipher all the data that your watch has collected about you.
It is easy to use, displaying metrics in a daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly format. This is very motivating, making it easy to monitor your progress over time.
You can also use the app to access training plans, upload routes, and connect with other Garmin users.
All the best Garmins for running shown in this guide have Body Battery, an advanced feature that uses a range of metrics to calculate your energy levels.
Levels run from 1 to 100, with high numbers indicating that you’re raring to go! This gives you a good idea of when to tackle demanding tasks, or when to rest and recover.
The 7 best Garmin Runners Watches for 2023
– Daily suggested workouts, estimated VO2 max, and recovery advice
– Best entry-level watch, ideal for beginners
This may be one of Garmin’s more affordable watches, but it’s definitely not lacking in features.
It provides all the basic tracking you’d expect but also comes with a whole bunch of extras. These include training tools to increase your performance, predicted race times, and post-workout advice detailing how much rest you’ll need. The personalized workout suggestions – based on past performance and current fitness – are great for running newbies.
The battery life is good, lasting up to 2 weeks on a single charge if you use it as a smartwatch. This drops to 20 hours when you use the GPS tracking – still pretty impressive at this price point.
This is a lightweight watch that is comfortable to wear, but the small, low-resolution screen might not suit everyone.
– Stylish enough for daily wear, with a large AMOLED screen and on-screen muscle maps
– Best choice for beginner and intermediate runners
This watch has a sleek look suitable for all occasions but still packs everything you need for tracking your workout sessions efficiently.
The heart rate monitor and GPS functions are flawless. Whilst the navigation tools may not be as sophisticated as with Garmin’s higher-end models, you do get the ‘return-to-start‘ feature which is useful for checking out new areas on your runs.
Tracking tools include body battery, sleep, and stress monitoring, a health snapshot feature that generates a report on your key stats, and a Pulse Ox sensor. The fitness age feature will compare your data to your true age and let you know if your body seems younger or older than you really are. It will also provide tips to lower that number if it’s too high.
The Venu 2 offers useful smartwatch functions, too, with a microphone and speaker to make phone calls or to interact with your compatible smartphone’s voice assistant.
– Durable design, easy-to-read display, and extended battery life
– Ideal for outdoor running
Built for running in the great outdoors, this durable watch has solar charging capabilities. As long as the weather conditions are right (i.e. bright and not too cloudy), you’ll get virtually unlimited battery life in smartwatch mode. This goes down to 48 hours with GPS tracking switched on, although for that you’ll need more or less continuous sunlight.
The Instinct 2 is built to last. Its fiber-reinforced polymer case is more than capable of withstanding the odd bump or two, whilst the screen is made from scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. The rugged design is somewhat on the masculine side, though, so it won’t appeal to everyone.
The screen is easy to read no matter what the weather, and there are some great outdoor-specific features, including a built-in 3-axis compass, multiple global navigation satellite systems, and a barometric altimeter.
You get all the tracking features you’ll need, including VO2 max tracking, training effect insights, fitness age, and more. We also like the PacePro feature that helps you calculate a pace strategy when applied to a course loaded onto your watch.
– Always-on 1.3” display, responsive touchscreen, and support for multi-GNSS satellite systems
– Best choice for trail runners
It may come with a hefty price tag, but if you’re serious about trail running and appreciate a high level of sophisticated data, you can’t go wrong with the Fenix 7.
Unlike many of the best Garmin runners watches that feature the brand’s typical five control buttons, this one has a highly responsive touchscreen interface too. You’re not forced to use it, though. The touchscreen option can be disabled and you can go back to button controls if you prefer. These are easy to use and work well in all weather conditions.
You can set your own data screen which is a great feature – no more switching from screen to screen to find the information you need.
The ability to load routes is a real bonus and we particularly love the TracBack feature. Just tag the starting point for your run and the watch will direct you back to it once you’ve finished, giving you the confidence to explore unfamiliar territory.
Additional features such as great battery life with solar charging, a visual race predictor, PacePro technology, and advanced 24/7 fitness tracking make this one of the most impressive runners’ watches around.
– Full-color built-in maps, heart rate variability status, and training effect feedback.
– Best choice for triathletes
With its button and touchscreen combination, the Forerunner can be compared to the Fenix 7. But there are some key differences – this model is more affordable and lighter on the wrist, with a smaller case and lower profile. These features make it feel more stable when running at serious speeds.
The 955’s main focus is on running and multi-sports. You can switch between sports with just a single press of a button, using built-in profiles for triathlons, duathlons, brick workouts, and swimruns.
The real-time stamina gauge lets you know how much effort you’re using, avoiding over-exertion too early in your run. There is also a training readiness feature that uses the data your watch has gathered and suggests how hard you should train that day.
Running power stats are available too, but for these you will need to pair the watch with a Garmin Running Dynamics Pod or HRM-Pro.
– 1.4” Power Sapphire lens, super bright LED flashlight, and NextFork map guide
– Designed for ultrarunners, great for endurance trail running too
If you’re into ultra-distance running then you’ll know the absolute importance of superior battery life in your wearables. That’s just what you get with the Enduro 2 – a premium Garmin watch built for extremes.
With one of the most impressive battery lives on the market, this model will give you up to 46 days in smartwatch mode and an amazing 150 hours in GPS mode. This is largely thanks to the SatIQ technology that automatically uses the best GPS mode to pinpoint your navigation whilst conserving battery life.
Enhanced solar charging provides additional battery support.
The design is lightweight, but with a rugged and somewhat bulky look on the wrist. Nevertheless, it feels comfortable even after hours of use, with an UltraFit nylon band helping it stay securely in place.
You have the option of using physical control buttons or a touchscreen and there are some helpful endurance-specific features. The ‘ultrarun activity’ with rest timer allows you to log time spent at aid stations, whilst the adventure racing activity profile allows you to view heart rate, elevation, segment times, and other metrics throughout the race.
– Advanced heart rate monitoring, barometric altimeter, and support for Garmin Pay™ contactless payments
– Best all-round watch for runners
The Forerunner 245 has been one of the most popular running watches since its debut in 2019. This new iteration takes everything that was good about the original, then adds a ton of improvements to make it even better!
One of the biggest changes is the battery life, now offering up to 14 days when used as a smartwatch or up to 30 hours with GPS, depending on which tracking mode you use.
Heart rate tracking is more accurate than ever thanks to the enhanced Elevate V4 heart rate sensor, whilst the multi-band GPS provides reliable and consistent positional accuracy. You can choose which metrics you want to see on the screen, whilst a daily report provides a rundown on your energy levels and suggests an appropriate workout.
Of course, all these great features come at a price and the Forerunner 255 is more expensive than its predecessor. Nevertheless, upgrades like the ability to use Garmin Pay, triathlon support, and enhanced accuracy make this a watch that’s well worth the investment.
The Best garmin runners watches: Our Key Takeaways
So what is the best Garmin watch for running?
As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question, and each of the models we’ve listed here has its own unique characteristics. The best watch for you will fit your budget and come with features that will you will use regularly, based on the type of running you enjoy.
The good news is that – no matter which Garmin watch you choose – you can be confident you’ve invested in a high-quality training tool that will accurately track your efforts.
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