A sports watch is a useful gadget for charting your workouts in a fun way. Distance and speed are no longer the only things you can measure with a watch. More and more sports watches also have the option of tracking heart rate, sleep rhythm, calorie consumption, stride frequency and ground contact time, among other things. The range of running watches is so large that it is difficult to choose. How to choose the sports watch that suits you best? With this overview, you can determine which functions are of interest to you.
GPS is certainly one of the basic functions of a running watch nowadays. In addition to the kilometres run, GPS also measures your speed (indicated in kilometres per hour and/or average time per kilometre). This makes it easy to analyse how your workout went afterwards. Some watches use GPS for navigation. For example, a trackback function enables you to find your way back to your starting point and some models enable you to load routes so your watch can provide you with directions.
Are you going to train for a specific goal, or just for fitness? This question is important when choosing heart rate monitoring on your watch. Your heart rate can give you a lot of information during and after your workout, such as the intensity at which you work out and your condition and recovery. Training with heart rate does require some prior knowledge of zones and maximum heart rate, otherwise it is just a number on your watch. You can measure your heart rate by means of a heart rate belt that you connect to your watch, but newer models often also have an integrated wrist measurement (although this is generally less accurate).
A useful function can be pre-programming your workouts. Are you planning an interval training session, but don't feel like keeping an eye on your watch the whole time? By programming a workout in advance, the sports watch will beep or vibrate when your next interval starts.
Planning to use your sports watch for multiple sports? If so, check out the multisport models, which are specially made for swimming, cycling or other sports.
Sleep is important for your recovery. Some watches can provide a detailed record of the time spent in light sleep, REM sleep and deep sleep. Keeping track of your sleep rhythm can offer you valuable insights to improve the quality of your sleep.
More and more sports watches have music controls, making it easy to change songs and adjust the volume (if your watch is paired with a smartphone) while running. Do you prefer to leave your phone at home? If so, it might be worth looking at a sports watch with a built-in music player.
The battery life is highly dependent on the functions you use, but it is certainly something to consider when choosing a sports watch.
Immersing yourself a bit in the many possibilities and models will soon leave you dizzy. So think carefully about what you want to use your watch for and what you want to measure with it.