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How to Choose the Right GPS Watch

 

A GPS watch is a tool that can enhance your training—if you pick the one best suited for you.
GPS watches track time, distance, pace and calories, and come equipped with numerous features and training aids. But it can be difficult to find the right watch with so many brands and models available.
How Often Will You Use It?
Budget GPS watches cost around $100—about the same as a pair of running shoes. Figure out how often and how far you run to determine whether it's worth buying a GPS watch. Beginner runners might not benefit from using a GPS watch if their runs are short or infrequent.
A smartphone fitness app may be a better option for new runners. Most apps have the same functions as a basic GPS watch. They're also less accurate, not as durable, and come with fewer features.
What Will You Use it For?
GPS watches are most commonly used for running. But they can also be worn while cycling, swimming, hiking, skiing, rowing, or kayaking. Just about any outdoor sport can be tracked with a GPS watch.
It's important to think about the activities where you will use your GPS watch and ensure it has compatible features. For example, not all watches can be worn in the water. If you plan on swimming with your watch, make sure it's waterproof to at least 30 meters.Some watches are designed primarily for triathletes. They come with features that make it easy to quickly transition from one sport to another. If you are not a triathlete, determine whether a watch with these features would be useful.
How Much Are You Willing to Pay?
The least expensive GPS watches start at around $100 and can run as high as $500 or more. The cost of is typically tied to the number of features in the watch.
While it varies by individual watch, these features are commonly found in each price range:
·         $100 to $150: These tend to be bare minimum watches that only track time, distance, speed, pace and calories. Many are not compatible with accessories like a heart rate monitor. And the least expensive models cannot download workouts to be analyzed on a computer.
·         $150 to $250: These models often support additional accessories including heart rate monitors, foot pods, and bike speed and cadence sensors. Many can also be programed with interval workouts.
·         $250 and up: GPS watches in this price range are often made for specific activities. Some are aimed at runners while others are equipped with triathlete-friendly features. Many also have long-lasting batteries and come with advanced training tools to program complex workouts. 
What Features Do You Want? 
There are the four different types of features to consider on a GPS watch:
1. Hardware: 
·         GPS watch battery life varies from 5 hours to over 50 hours. Built-in sensors such as altimeters and thermometers are sometimes included. Screen size varies as well. Smaller screens make for a lighter watch while larger but heavier screens can display more information.
2. Data tracking: 
·         This is the information a watch displays. It includes distance, speed and pace, elevation, heart rate and calories. Some models can track temperature, measure vertical speed (how fast you are ascending or descending), and count swim strokes and laps.
3. Training Alerts and Tools: 
·         GPS watches perform different functions with the data they track. For example, a GPS watch can be programmed to automatically mark a lap every mile and alert you with a beep at each lap. Other features include vibration alerts, on-screen maps, programmable interval workouts and auto pause (this stops the timer when you are not moving).
4. Accessories:
·         Different types of accessories include: heart rate monitors, foot pods that track cadence and measure distance on a treadmill, bike speed and cadence sensors and quick-release mounts that make it easy to move the watch between wrist and bicycle handlebars.
A GPS watch can become your best training partner if you pick a model that matches your needs.