Marathon Handbook is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Here's why you can trust us.
Welcome to our guide on the best heart rate monitors for runners!
There are quite a few approaches or training philosophies when it comes to running.
Some coaches espouse the importance of adhering to specific paces in your workouts and recommend always wearing and using a GPS running watch for instantaneous workout metrics.
Other running coaches are proponents of the “run by feel” or effort-based approach to workout intensity and suggest using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale to guide your training.
Another popular approach to training that sort of strikes the balance between these two aforementioned training strategies is heart rate training.
As will be explained below, there are many benefits to heart rate training – but only if you have the right heart rate monitor to track your runs and progress.
This is what we’re here to help with. In this article, we’ll run you through our pick of the 5 best heart rate monitors for runners and why they’re so effective.
Let’s get into it!
Why Use Heart Rate Monitors?
Heart training is more data-driven and scientific than subjective effort-based “run-by-feel” training because it uses your physiological metrics—in the form of heart rate—to quantify your level of effort.
Heart rate monitoring can also provide a more accurate assessment of caloric expenditure than calorie counters on sports watches and exercise machines.
At the same time, heart rate training is more humanistic than relying solely on pace, because it takes into account how your body is feeling and performing during any given workout.
For this reason, heart rate training is a reliable, effective training approach, and can be easily incorporated into your workouts with the aid of a heart rate monitor.
The best heart rate monitors for runners measure your real-time heart rate data without inhibiting your running stride or causing discomfort or distraction.
They should be light, comfortable, durable, and water-resistant to prevent damage from sweat.
Because there are dozens of good heart rate monitors for runners on the market these days, it can be overwhelming to know which one you should buy, so we’ve done the research, tested the products, and selected the best heart rate monitors for runners in 2022.
The 5 Best Heart Rate Monitors For Runners
Without further ado, here’s our pick of the best heart rate monitors for runners.
#1: Best Overall Heart Rate Monitor For Runners: Wahoo TICKR X
The Wahoo TICKR X heart rate monitor is specifically designed with runners in mind, so its features and functions speak to the needs of runners.
It features a Bluetooth and ANT+ heart rate sensor, and tracks numerous metrics such as heart rate, calories burned, and running analytics such as pace, workout time, and cadence.
The heart rate monitor can sync to a running watch or multi-sport watch via Bluetooth to give you real-time data. It can also be used to record indoor cycling cadence, and it syncs to pretty much any fitness app, including Peloton, Zwift, MapMyRun, RunKeeper, and Strava.
What we love most about this heart rate monitor for running is the slim, incredibly light design. It weighs a mere 1.7oz (48g) and is only 12.01mm thick at the thickest part.
The heart rate sensor and strap are integrated seamlessly together, providing a minimalist and comfortable fit that simultaneously provides the most secure connection.
You don’t have to worry about the sensors losing the signal and connection to your heart as you run, and the strap does not slip down or twist, even as you sweat.
The Wahoo TICKR X heart rate monitor has an impressive 50 hours of onboard memory for your heart rate and calorie data, so you don’t have to run with your smartphone to record your heart rate data on your run. All you need is the strap and the open road (or treadmill).
There is also a treadmill mode on the heart rate monitor that allows you to track your speed and distance data while running on a treadmill. Runners can complete a calibration run on the treadmill, and then when using the heart rate monitor on the treadmill, the Wahoo Fitness App will determine your distance and pace based on your ground contact time.
Finally, the TICKR X is one of the best heart rate monitors for runners because it incorporates features designed to actually help you improve your performance.
The patented Wahoo Running Smoothness feature analyzes your running form and efficiency across three dimensions and then provides suggestions to improve your running form or cadence.
The TICKR X has a replaceable coin cell battery that provides over 500 active hours. It is sweatproof and has a waterproof rating of IPX7, which means it is waterproof up to 5 feet.
#2: Best Armband Heart Rate Monitor For Runners: Wahoo TICKR Fit
Once upon a time, all heart rate monitors required you to wear a chest strap. Technology has come a long way with heart rate monitors now slim and low profile, but some runners still find running with a chest strap heart rate monitor uncomfortable, no matter how slim or soft the band is.
Fortunately, today there are some highly accurate heart rate monitors for runners that use a wrist or armband rather than a chest strap. Our pick for the best armband heart rate monitor for runners is the Wahoo TICKR Fit.
The TICKR FIT heart rate monitor armband uses optical heart rate technology to provide accurate heart rate and calorie burn data in the most comfortable form factor yet! Equipped with Bluetooth and ANT+ technology to seamlessly pair with fitness apps, smartphones, and GPS bike computers and watches.
Worn on the forearm, the TICKR FIT heart rate monitor uses optical sensing and Bluetooth and ANT+ technology to capture your real-time heart rate data and running metrics. It can also be used for indoor or outdoor cycling, fitness classes, strength training, and more.
You get two armbands in the box, one large and one small, and both are adjustable to help you get the perfect, slip-free fit.
The heart rate monitor can sync to the Apple Watch, a running or multi-sport watch via Bluetooth, along with Apple TV and cycle computers to give you real-time data. It can also be used to record indoor cycling cadence, and it syncs to pretty much any fitness app, including Peloton, Zwift, MapMyRun, RunKeeper, and Strava.
The TICKR Fit has a USB-rechargeable battery and holds a charge for 30 hours of use. The heart rate monitor is sweatproof, with a waterproof rating of IPX7 for depths up to 5 feet.
#3: Best Discreet Heart Rate Monitor For Runners: Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds
It might be surprising to hear that there’s a heart rate monitor for runners that requires no chest strap, no watch, and no armband.
However, the Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds do the seemingly impossible by blending running earbuds and a heart rate monitor in one.
The Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds function as regular fully wireless earbuds, but they also monitor and report your heart rate with audio feedback. The earbuds pair with the Jabra Sport Life app to track and record your fitness data.
There is real-time audio coaching to help you reach your running goals.
The earbuds themselves have fantastic sound quality, an impressive 13.5-hour battery life, dual microphones in each earbud for making or receiving calls, and a precision-fit system to ensure the earbuds stay in place as you bound down the road.
#4: Best Premium Heart Rate Monitor For Runners: Fourth Frontier Frontier X
The Frontier X is truly next-generation amongst the best heart rate monitors for runners. It is an absolute game-changer for any runner with a heart condition, as it not only monitors your heart rate but also your heart rhythm.
A heart rate monitor for exercise is usually only telling you how many times your heart is beating in a minute. This gives you no information about arrhythmias or abnormal changes in how your heart is beating and how the electrical conduction through the heart is functioning.
The Frontier X operates like a 12-lead ECG used by cardiologists. It detects any concerning changes in real-time, as you run or exercise, and throughout the day. You can even send the data to anyone, such as physicians, should you have concerns about your cardiac health.
Moreover, you can set certain cardiac or respiratory thresholds, and then the heart rate monitor will vibrate with an alert to let you know to back off.
The heart rate monitor also provides data about your cardiac strain and breathing rate, both of which provide valuable feedback about your effort level during your workout.
The Frontier X is water-resistant up to 1.5 meters and weighs just 25 grams. It charges completely in 45 minutes, with each charge lasting up to 24 hours with continuous usage or 12 – 15 days battery under typical usage. It connects to the Apple Watch and other BLE sports watches.
#5: Best All-In-One GPS Running Watch and Heart Rate Monitor: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Any time a GPS running watch is featured, there’s a good chance it’s a Garmin, so it may come as no surprise that our pick for the best GPS running watch with a heart rate monitor is the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music.
This feature-studded running watch uses optical sensing to monitor your heart rate right from your wrist, without the need for a separate chest strap.
The watch itself does just about anything you’d ever want a running watch to do.
From playing music without needing to have your phone in tow; displaying your running analytics like pace, time, distance, cadence, ground contact time, stride length, and vertical ratio; and can even send emergency alerts with your real-time location to selected contacts.
The running watch evaluates your training status, considering factors such as your VO2 max, sleep, heart rate, effort level, and recovery, and provides feedback as to how to adjust your training volume and intensity.
If you want an all-in-one training tool, you can’t go wrong with this watch.
Running with a heart rate monitor can guide your training and give you an idea of how your body is performing and responding to physical activity.
While chest straps are thought to provide slightly more accurate heart rate readings, there are several other forms of heart rate monitors for runners with the technology and accuracy to meet the demands of the sport.
Let us know how you get on with these heart rate monitors in the comments!
Most GPS watches offer heart rate monitoring. Check out our pick of the best Below!
Now you know our pick of the best heart rate monitors for runners. Next up, GPS watches!
Take Your Running Further With Our Resources...
Half Marathon Resources
Marathon Training Resources
Ultramarathon Training Resources