8 Best Cheap Running Watches

People often take up running because it’s so much cheaper and more affordable than going to the gym.

But unlike a treadmill, there’s no machine to give you your running stats unless you buy one.

And while there are some great sports watches out there with a ton of great features, there’s no reason to splurge all your cash on one.

In this article, we’re going to show you some great running watches that are quite easily affordable - they all come under $200 but they’re all top quality.

After that we’ve also got a little buying guide for you. Then we top that off with a section answering your most frequently asked questions.

OUR TOP PICK

This watch is built for running. It ticks all the main boxes and throws in some very nice extras. It has integrated GPS and measures your heart rate - and that’s just to start off with…

You can train for a running event with a personalized, adaptable running plan. You can track your distance, pace and altitude, and, thanks to the accelerometer, you get a running index score based on your heart rate and speed data, which is handy metric for seeing how your running improves over time.

It also show you your aerobic fitness level, and shows you how long it takes for you to recover from your workout. And you can sync your workout to your other devices.

It’s also a smart watch that will pair up with your smartphone for all your notifications.

Pros

  • Integrated GPS
  • Measures heart rate
  • Syncs to smartphone
  • 100% waterproof
  • Provides all kinds of running stats

Cons

  • It’s a bit bulky

EDITORS CHOICE

This is a perfect watch to go running with. It will not only time your runs, but it will also calcluate the distance you’ve run, and give you a figure for your pace.

It comes with built-in GPS for those who like to change up their running routes and explore new areas.

It’s also a smart watch, so you can hook it up to your smartphone and get all your social media notifications.

We love that is has a circular display screen - just like a regular analogue watch. We like the one with the frost blue band, but if that’s not for you, you can just go with traditional black.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Measures heart rate
  • Tracks your pace
  • Syncs to smartphone

Cons

  • Battery only lasts 11 hours in GPS training mode

BEST VALUE

As you might expect from Garmin, this watch features built-in GPS. It tracks your running route, and how far and how fast you’re running.

It also tracks your heart rate, so you know when you’re in the active fat buring zone. And with this functionality, it can also calculate calories burned.

It’s also a smart watch, so you can get all your smartphone notification when paired up.

We also like how it automatically uploads your runs to Garmin Connect.

There’s a choice of different color straps, and if you like you can opt to buy it with a compatible chest heart rate monitor.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Wide diplay screen
  • Measures heart rate
  • Syncs to smartphone

Cons

  • The heart rate measured on the wrist is an estimate, for a more accurate reading you can use a chest heart rate monitor

RUNNER UP

This is hands down one of the most popular running and fitness watches out there.

On the Amazon page alone it has attracted well over 90,000 individual customer ratings. And better yet, the average customer rating is very positive at 4 and a half stars out of 5.

What we love about this watch, is that not only is it compatible with your smartphone, but it even has Alexa built in too!

It has a large square display and is available with several different choices of band, from black silicone through to rose silicon, through to woven navy. As such there are versions out there for men and women alike.

Pros

  • Built-in Alexa
  • Measures heart rate
  • Counts your steps
  • 100% waterproof
  • Syncs to smartphone

Cons

  • No built-in GPS

RUNNER UP

We love the look of this special edition watch from Fitbit. It’s very slimline and not bulky at all. And we love the band too. It may look quite convential, but its actually made from recycled materials

We love that it features built-in GPS. This makes it a great choice for those who like to do their running in different locations, and see how much distance they can cover.

And, as you run, you can check when your’re in your active zone to target fat loss, and you can listen to your favorite music via Spotify.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS
  • Waterproof
  • Access Spotify
  • Tracks fitness stats
  • Syncs to smartphone

Cons

  • Using GPS can really drain the battery - only use when needed

RUNNER UP

What we love about the Fitbit Inspire 2, is how it comes with a free 1-year subscription to Fitbit Premium, which provides the wearer with personalized motivationa and guidance to help you reach your fitness goals.

It has a nice slimline design, which looks very smart whichever color band you choose to buy.

It has great battery life too, and can for 10 days before it needs a to be recharged.

Pros

  • Fitbit Premium
  • Measures heart rate
  • 20 + exercise modes
  • 100% waterproof
  • 10 days battery life

Cons

  • No built-in GPS

RUNNER UP

This is one of Garmin’s more slimline watches, with a narrow display showing only the most pertinent information.

It goes one better than heart rate monitoring and instead has a Pulse Ox sensor to determine your body’s blood oxygen saturation level.

As the name suggests, its a smart watch, so it can pair up with your smart phone for you to received all your social media notifications.

It’s also 100% waterproof and features 7 whole days of battery life.

There are color options for men and women alike. We like the grey band with the rose gold edging.

Pros

  • Smart, slimline look
  • Pulse Ox sensor
  • 100% waterproof
  • Syncs with your smartphone

Cons

  • No built-in GPS, but it has connected GPS

RUNNER UP

This is quite an eye-catching watch, combining a narrow band against a large circular display screen. It’s available in 3 different colors, with something to suit both men and women.

It monitors your heart rate and it will alert you when it detects a particularly high or low heart rate.

It autotracks your running workouts for you, and other workouts, and it’s so waterproof that you can even take it swimming.

We also love it’s remarkably good battery life - it can go for several days without needing to be recharged.

It’s a smartwatch that will pair up seamlessly with either Android or iOS compatible devices, so you don’t have to miss any important notifications on your run.

Pros

  • Monitors your heart rate
  • Autotracks your workouts
  • Great battery life
  • Syncs to your smartphone

Cons

  • No integrated GPS
  • This is a pre-owned product that has been renewed (and tested) that’s how come it’s so affordable

Best Cheap Running Watches Buying Guide

Here’s what to look for in an affordable running watch:

1. Brand

We would argue that you should go for a watch from a good, trusted, reputable brand. There have been a vast number of copcats come into the playfield of running and fitness watches, but to be perfectly honest with you, many of them are fakers, and simply don’t have the same quality you would get from a top brand.

The brands we favor the most, in case it skipped your attention, are Fitbit and Garmin. They remain at the forefront of their game, topping even Casio, who’s been in the business far longer.

2. Waterproof

Unless you do all your running on a treadmill, then you’re going to need a watch that can withstand a bit of light rain.

Plus it’s handy if you get to remove your watch when you hop in the shower after your run.

3. Heart Rate Monitoring

We recommend doing your running with a watch that can monitor your heart rate. That way you can see when you’re in your active fat burning zone.

And this heart rate monitoring function can also serve to provide you with more accurate readings of the calories you’ve been burning as you run.

4. Built-in GPS

While built-in GPS may be of little interest to sprinters, if you like to do cross country running across long distances and wierd and wonderful routes in the countryside, this might be a nice feature to consider.

It can be nicer, and perhaps more useful, to track your runs in terms of distance run rather than number of steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best watch for a runner?

We would argue that the Polar M430 GPS Running Watch is the best watch for a runner.

It ticks all the main boxes and throws in some very nice extras. It has integrated GPS and measures your heart rate - and that’s just to start off with.

It also provides all kinds of stats on your running and helps you to train for marathons and half marathons.

What is a good inexpensive smart watch?

There’s no reason that your running watch can’t also be a smart watch too.

We mentioned several of them in our shortlist, but if we have to pick just one, it would be the Garmin Forerunner 235, GPS Running Watch.

Suzie
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