Fitness trackers have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Honestly, they’re pretty neat. Even though more serious exercise enthusiasts will likely get the most use out of these devices, they can be useful for anyone at any stage in their fitness journey.
From tracking calories burned and steps taken to your sleeping habits and heart rate, you might be surprised just how advanced these devices can get for serious endurance runners. If you want to really track your running progress and improve your times, trackers are a great way to do it.
With so many on the market, however, it can be difficult to choose the best device. These are the most highly rated devices I could find, the pros, the cons, and key features.
Top 4 Fitness Trackers for Runners
Fitbit Surge — For Serious Performance
If you’ve had any fitness trackers on your radar, Fitbit was likely one of them. The Surge model is their most expensive and only tracker in the performance class. The main thing that sets it apart from the other models in the Fitbit family is the advanced GPS tracking and multisport modes that help you train smarter and more accurately.
Reviews praise its accuracy and ability to track new activities like yoga, weight lifting, and hiking. That said, this tracker is not waterproof. Still, Surge is considered the best on the market: Fitbit is the most recognized brand for these types of devices, and for good reason. They’ve earned it.
- GPS Tracking — see your distance, pace, elevation changes, split times, and review your routes taken
- Heart Rate Tracking — continuous and automatic wrist-based heart rate tracking
- Multisport Functionality
- Activity Tracking — steps taken, distance, calories burned, floors climbed, active minutes, hourly activity & more.
Garmin vívoactive — For Triathlon Training
The vívoactive is a smartwatch that comes ready to train you for a triathlon. And also golf. In all seriousness, this watch has received some glowing reviews, not just on Amazon, but from some guys who really know technology. If you’re wanting to train for a triathlon this is a particularly appealing option, given the built-in apps that track swimming and biking, and the fact that the device is totally waterproof.
The major downside is that there’s not built-in heart rate monitor here. It’s separate and requires a chest strap. And, annoyingly, there’s no wireless syncing with your PC or Mac.
That said, it’s a not-too expensive option that has been highly reviewed with fairly minor complaints.
- Sport Apps — track GPS-enabled activity for a variety of different sports and activities including running, swimming, golf, biking, and walking.
- App Store for Additional Features
TomTom Spark 3 — For Fun Runners
The Spark 3 comes with a lot of the same features that your average Fitbit would. It tracks your distance, speed, and time. The heart rate monitor included is top notch according to reviews. There are two features that really help this device stand out. One: MP3 storage. You can put your music on this device and pair it to wireless headphones: preventing you from having to carry a heavy phone around for your run.
Second, the GPX system, unlike other GPS trackers so far not only keeps track of where you went, but it lets you tell it where you want to go. You can upload a route to follow and set a course for yourself! Great for specific training or exploration.
- MP3 Storage & Bluetooth
- GPX routes — upload custom routes
Polar M600 — For “Smart” Runners
Polar has long had their hats in the fitness tracking game (1980’s kind of long) and now they’ve incorporated Android tech in this smartwatch. You’re going to get the most out of this watch through using Polar Flow—an app dedicated to helping runners train for marathons. It helps you track goals, stats, and compete with friends. You can find an overview of the app here if it’s something you want to look into in more detail.
The M600 is definitely a smartwatch. It utilizes the Android Wear fitness apps and has other smartwatch functionality, though it primarily acts (and looks) like a fitness watch.
You’ll find the same features here that you would in most other similar devices, plus the advantage of smartwatch features.
- Android Wear accessibility
- Sync to Google Fit
- GPS Tracking
- Heart rate tracking
There are so many fitness trackers on the market that there’s just no way to cover them all. That’s why I want to hear from you!
What fitness tracker do you use? Share your recommendations in the comments!