A Marathon Tracker For Every Budget
Rob Hodges is founder of ShuffleRun, reviewing the latest wearables in the fitness tech industry.
Crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles is a fantastic feeling and its certainly no challenge to take lightly. To achieve this goal, you’ll need to spend months training in preparation. To record and review your running efforts, the right watch can make all the difference to your progress. Below are 4 perfect marathon tracker watches worth checking out. As a minimum, they all have GPS built in which allows you to see the pace you’re running at, as well as the total distance covered. They’re also all compatible with the popular Strava app so you can compare yourself with other runners local to you.
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Best on a tight budget – Soleus GPS mini
My first recommendation doesn’t have the marketing budget like Garmin or TomTom do. It does however comes in at a really sweet price. An MSRP of $99 is already quite cheap for a GPS running watch, if you look on discount sites like Amazon I managed to find it for $37!
Soleus GPS mini features
- Tracks distance and pace in miles and kilometres.
- Backlight so you can still see your pace during those dark winter nights.
- 5 programmable alarms, no excuses for missing that morning run.
With 8 hours of continuous GPS use off a single charge, the mini goes the distance for most runners taking on the marathon. When you want to upload your running data, or recharge the battery, a hidden USB stick within the watch strap, just plugs in and does its thing.
Marathon running can be expensive. Whether its replacing high mileage trainers, buying reflective clothing for winter, or just good quality food to replenish burned calories, it all adds up financially.
Cheaper options like the Soleus tick the box for basic features, and then could leave you with money spare to buy the other items you need to stay on top of your marathon goal.
Best value for money – Garmin Forerunner 35
Garmin GPS watches are a popular choice amongst the running community. They’re a well respected brand and have released countless running watches over the last 15 years. The Forerunner 35, is priced like one of Garmin’s entry level models but actually gives runners plenty of useful features.
Garmin Forerunner 35 Features:
- 24/7 Heart Rate monitoring from the wrist means no need to wear a chest strap.
- Vibration alerts on your wrist to notify you on your mile splits.
- Upload your runs to Garmin Connect wirelessly through your smartphone.Capturing heart rate on a run, is a great way to gauge the intensity of your effort.
The Forerunner 35 has 5 programmable training zones so you can make sure you’re not trying too hard on your runs and instead focus on a pace that’ll help you cover the full 26.2 miles efficiently. There’s even lifestyle tracking metrics thrown in with daily step goals, automatic sleep tracking and alerts which remind you to move if you’ve been sat around too long.
Music to Your Ears? TomTom Runner 3 Series
If a good beat helps to fuel your motivation, you’ll love this watch. Rather than carrying around a phone or iPod on your long run, this TomTom lets you store approximately 500 songs onto the watch itself. You then use a pair of Bluetooth headphones to listen to your power playlist.
TomTom Runner 3 Series Features:
- Up to 11 hours battery life when using GPS
- Route Exploration, create a new route and follow it without worry of getting lost.
- Interval Training lets you create custom workouts with rest periods.Tip – TomTom’s naming convention can get a little bit confusing and there are a lot of models with Runner 3 in the name. Here’s the ones which include music storage.
- TomTom Runner 3 Music + Headphones. If you don’t already own a pair of Bluetooth headphones, this gives you everything you need.
- TomTom Runner 3 Cardio + Music. As above, get heart rate tracking on your wrist too.
More from ShuffleRun – Running Watches With Music Playback
The Technical Runner – Garmin Forerunner 935
If you love reams of performance data metrics, the FR 935 goes the extra mile. As a new release for 2017, the 935 is a hybrid running/triathlon watch which provides athletes with biomechanical and physiological insight, with the intention to help athletes train smarter.
Garmin Forerunner 935 Features
- A mammoth 24 hours battery life in GPS mode
- Estimates VO2 Max and predicts target race times
- Assesses training load to see if you’re on track for improvements or overtraining.
By combining captured heart rate data with running pace, the Forerunner 935 uses algorithms to calculate all sorts of scientific tests, including VO2 Max, Lactate Threshold and Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). Whilst I doubt these metrics have the same levels of accuracy as a lab test, the FR935 is a practical compromise which allows any runner to capture data in realistic conditions, on any run.
Verdict – Which watch is best for my marathon training?
So there you have it, 4 entirely different running watches varying by features and over $450 difference in price. Bear in mind that buying a watch with features you won’t use is the biggest waste of money, so assess what you really need before buying a watch for your marathon. Is it music playback, heart rate data, technical insight or just GPS? Every runner is different so focus on what’s right for you and your marathon preparation.
Good luck and enjoy race day.
If you have a favorite marathon tracker of your own, let us know below!
Related: Top Fitness Trackers For Runners