running apps vs. running watches | 2 of 26 Marathon Series

So whilst a good pair of properly fitted running shoes is the most important piece of kit for running, knowing what your goals are and if you are achieving them is very important. How will you know if you are getting better, or hitting your goals if you can’t measure your progress? This is why so many runners now choose to measure their speed and distance using GPS technology which is so widely available. But is it best to simply download an app for your mobile phone or buy a dedicated GPS watch?

Mobile Running Apps

There is a wide range of running apps available for mobile phones that simply use the GPS transceiver built into your phone to measure your speed and the distance you have run, which then display this information on your mobile phone for analysis. Many of these apps are free and user-friendly, boast a great range of features aside, not to mention monitoring your speed and route so you can see where you ran. Most of them also link up to social media, making tracking your runs more competitive and fun. Our top choices of running apps are:

GPS Running Watches

GPS watches are dedicated devices that were on the market before phones had GPS sensors built in to them. They have therefore been through a much longer development process, as a result they are better designed and more accurate than running mobile apps; they are also specifically designed for the single task of measuring your run so much more fit for purpose. The cost of GPS watches has also come down a lot recently; however you will still need to spend between £100-£300 for a new good quality model. They are also very comfortable and easier to run with than most mobile phones. Our top brand choices of Running GPS watches are:

How they compare…

Pros and cons of running apps and running watches
What are the pro’s and cons of running apps and running watches?


If you are very new to running or have very little budget and simply want to know how far and how fast you are running, then (assuming you have a compatible mobile phone) simply downloading a free app is a great way to get you started on measuring your running data. Where as if you’re not a complete beginner or like the thought of a fully capable, specific running device then a running GPS is probably for you. They are a small investment for such a wealth of features and reliable accuracy; the best thing about a running GPS is they are almost all compatible with most running apps!

So our best advice is to have the best of both worlds by using an app which works well with running GPS units, in our experience Strava or Map my Run are the better apps for this purpose. This way you use the running GPS watch to collect the data and guide you on your run and then download it to the app for analysis and sharing. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it!

Why not take a look at our range of running and activity watches:

Running Watches

Here is the next blog article in the marathon series:

3. Make Early Morning Running The Norm



Ryan has worked in the sports industry since 1999 and has a wealth of experience across most subjects. Ryan holds a BSc in microbiology and has studied sports physiology in great detail in his own time. His main areas of specialisation are: footwear construction, footwear technology, strength & conditioning and anatomy & physiology. He splits his 13 hours a week exercise between, Kickboxing, MMA, Crossfit, Rock Climbing and Running.