Should you use a Run Tracker App or Running Watch?



What’s the best way to measure or track your runs – GPS Running Watch, Running App, Fitness Watch, driving around your running route and using the car’s odometer??

Those are all real options and the best way to track your runs really depends on you, your goals and resources.

A run tracker app can track your runs and most measure overall time running, distance and pace. It’s easy to get started and set up so there’s no excuse to get started right away. Check out the pros and cons of both…

Running Tracker App Pros and Cons


  • You don’t have to have an extra piece of gear to bring with you (& remember to charge / take care of).
  • Cheap or FREE – many fitness apps are free.
  • Easy to set up and use.


  • Not as accurate as GPS watch.
  • Hard to use for speed / pace runs.

A fitness watch can track your runs. GPS Running Watch – will use gps technology to measure the distance of your run in miles or kilometers. It can also measure time / pace / cadence / elevation / heart race / calories burned and more!

There’s a HUGE variety of types, features and price points to choose from.


Running Watch (GPS) Pros and Cons


  • More accurate than app
  • Some models measure elevation / heart rate
  • Easier to check while running


  • Expensive
  • Extra gear to wear / care for

3 Steps to Pick The BEST Running Tracker For You

Step 1: What’s your goal?

Ask yourself these questions to identify why you need (or want) a running tracker or watch. How much time you spend running, your goals and future plans factor into this.

Why do you want/need a running tracker?

What is your goal with running?

Why are your tracking your runs?

-> If you’re running for fitness, health or weight loss as the main priority, you may be fine with a running tracker app or step counting watch or band. These will tell you how long your running workout is and the distance you’ve run.

They might not be as accurate as a GPS watch, but if you’re not trying to hit specific distance based goals that’s fine.

-> If you’re running to train for your first 5K, 10K or half marathon – a running tracker app can tell you the distance and pace. You can follow a training plan and use an app to help you measure your workouts.

It’s also a great way to see your progress as many of the apps have a calendar or round up of all your activity!

-> If you’re training to get faster – a running watch that measures your pace would be helpful.

Step 2: How much do you want to spend?

Most run tracker apps are free. Some have a small fee for more advanced features. But they are significantly cheaper than a running watch.

If you plan on running for a while and/or are training for a long distance race – a running watch may be a good investment. It’s the best way to measure long distance runs and be able to check in with your pace/distance while running.

Step 3: You as a runner

Are there any deal-breakers that make the choice for you?

Do you NOT have a smart phone so an app is out of the question?

Can’t wear a watch because you don’t have wrists?

Do you want to carry your phone with you on runs? 

Yes, I’m going to have it with me anyway.  -> Try an app.

No, I want a break from my phone while running.  -> Consider a watch.

Do you want an extra piece of gear that must be charged and handy for each run? 

Yes, I don’t mind! ->  Go with… a watch

No, I want to run free! -> Go with… an app

Do you enjoy sharing your runs/workouts on social media?

Yes! -> An app might make it quicker and easier to share.

No. -> Either would work, just don’t opt to share after your done.


Hopefully you know if you’re on Team App or Team Watch by now! And here are some of the best running tracker apps and running watches to check out when you’re ready to go…

Fitness Apps That Track Your Runs:

  • Strava
  • Run Keeper
  • Runtastic
  • Run with Map My Run
  • Nike Run Club
  • Charity Miles

Fitness Watches That Track Your Runs:

Polar Vantage M – GPS watch with wrist based heart rate monitor. I just got this one and haven’t been able to run with it since I’m injured – but I’ve been playing around with it and it’s super easy to use. It’s multi-sports, syncs online automatically, can track sleep and more. Full review coming soon.

TomTom Spark Running Watch Review – I tried this watch a few years ago. Even though TomTom is a well known driving GPS company they’re not as known for their running gps watches.

Garmin Forerunner 235 – When I first started running I got a Garmin Forerunner from Costco. It was HUGE. I ran it into the ground and upgraded to the 235 a few years ago.

Samsung Galaxy Watch or Apple Watch w gps – You can also consider a smart watch that’s compatible with your phone. It’s not considered as sporty as some of the above but if you already have one anyway look into using it to track your runs.

What do you use to track your runs right now?

Are any of these on your holiday wish list??

You might also like:

5 Easy Tips for Stretching After a Run

Never Have I Ever Game for Runners 


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