GPS tracking is a popular sports watch feature that can enhance your training program, giving you mid-workout, real-time feedback so you can immediately adjust your training as needed.
If you’re looking for something basic, choose a model that includes exercise time, speed, pace, distance, and a way to store data and upload it to your laptop or tablet. It should also come with an interactive website for managing your data and receiving customized feedback on your training performance. Additional features, depending on your needs and interests, may include heart rate (if you’re wearing a sensor, like a chest strap), elevation, estimated calories burned, on-screen graphing of workout statistics, tracking your personal bests, mp3 players, and more. Keep in mind that the more features it has, the more expensive the watch will be.
GPS-based smartphone apps — like MapMyRun, Every Body Walk, and Endomondo — are another good option for tracking your workouts. Apps have many of the same features as running watches, but offer a more user-friendly navigation and social media sharing — and some are free. The downside of training with a GPS app is wearing a bulky smartphone on your arm; GPS models are bulkier than ordinary sports watches, but lighter than a smartphone and easier to read while you’re running.
When you’re ready to buy, search online customer reviews, narrow down the top few features most important to you, and spend some time playing around with a few watches in-store, if possible. Download the free apps and give them a few test runs. The market for high-tech fitness gadgets is evolving at a rapid pace — so be clear on what you want and avoid paying for flashy features you don’t need.