If you're need of some extra motivation to help you get out there and get active this summer, look no further than these awesome running apps and watches...
When summer rolls around you’ve got too choices: kick back and relax in the sunshine, or stick at your fitness goals. Do the former and you’ll regret it by the autumn, but keep on running? You’ll be a fitness hero come Christmas.
If you want to get the most out of your workouts this summer, here’s how the latest in sports wearables – and their requisite apps – will help you smash your goals…
The tech: The newest kid on the running watch block, the Polar M430 is packed with features for novice and expert runners alike. Whilst its built-in GPS will help you track your progress with pinpoint accuracy out on the streets, Polar’s put a lot of work into its new heart rate monitoring tech. The result? Better tracking when you pound the treadmill, instead of the pavement.
The app: Polar Flow is a one-stop shop for all your tracking and training, keeping your sleep, activity and training synced from the watch right on your phone, with more in-depth analysis available on the Polar’s app. As with others listed here, you can also link the app to other popular health and fitness ones like MyFitnessPal. It’s compatible with MyFitnessPal, Apple Health and Strava.
The critics say: “Polar continues to improve on its existing running watches with the new M430 tracker. It’s an upgrade to the M400 in many subtle ways, including an improved accelerometer, longer battery life, and the inclusion of Polar’s own optical heart-rate monitor.”
– ArsTechnica UK
Garmin Forerunner 935
The tech: Another relative newbie, the Forerunner 935 takes a lot of the tech you’ll find in its bigger brother – the Fenix 5 – and slims things down to allow for everyday wear. Alongside rock solid heart rate and activity tracking, you’ll find support for smartphone notifications and a battery that’ll go two weeks on a charge as a watch, or 24 hours with GPS enabled.
The app: With Garmin Connect being built to work with the full suite of Garmin devices – a lot of which are built with pro runners in mind – there’s more data here than you can shake a stick at. It also offers up insights and suggestions based on previous performance. It’s also compatible with MyFitnessPal, Strava and Endomondo.
The critics say: “Garmin is on a roll, and the Forerunner 935 is yet another beast of a multisport GPS watch off the conveyor belt. It’s a tracking powerhouse and the new metrics – based around optimising your training and recovery – are really great additions.”
TomTom Runner/Spark 3
The tech: TomTom’s latest has a few awesome tricks up its sleeve. Opt for the high end Runner (or Spark) model and you’ll not only get GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring, but also the ability to store songs on the watch and play them through the bundled Bluetooth headphones. Our favourite feature is the breadcrumb-style map screen that lets you carve new routes and find your way home without getting lost.
The app: TomTom’s accompanying Sports app has enjoyed a major overhaul in recent months, and now proffers a much slicker, cleaner design. It’ll help you dig into the core stats for every run and find out which splits were your best and worst. It’ll also try to goad you into doing more by critiquing how and how often you run. Here’s a full list of compatible third party apps.
The critics say: “There’s a lot of depth hidden behind its innocuous face, TomTom’s multi-sport tracking is great and very easy to use, and thanks to its low-power screen the Runner 3 can act as a basic watch and step counter for a few weeks instead of a few days.”
Fitbit Charge 2
The tech: Fitbit’s sequel to the Charge landed in late 2016 to high praise. While some of the other watches listed here may be better for serious athletes, the Charge 2 is an awesome option for more casual runners who also want to track their walking, sleep, heart rate and more. It’s slim, easy to read in sunlight, and boasts around a week with a full charge.
The app: Because the Charge 2 doesn’t have GPS built in, you’ll need the Fitbit app with you to track your distance on a run. But that’s no bad thing; over time, Fitbit has really nailed the design and usefulness of its app dashboard and various progress screens. It’s a fantastic all-rounder, and is compatible with a huge array of third party apps.
The critics say: “If you don’t need water resistance and GPS, the Fitbit Charge 2 is the best overall fitness tracker you can buy.”
Get more great apps… Check out our pick of this month’s must have apps.