Five of the best high-tech watches for runners

You've done the hard yards this year. You've risen early and braced the cold or returned home drenched in sweat after a run.

You deserve a treat, so why not put one of these supercharged running watches on your Christmas wish list? These five fitness feature-crammed timepieces will help you train harder and run faster, while giving you some serious running track street cred.

Apple Watch Series 2    

Features

Packed with incredible running, fitness and health capabilities including a reliable built-in GPS, wrist heart rate sensor and wireless bluetooth headphone connectivity, the Apple Watch Series 2 is a well-designed piece of tech that warrants respect.

The second generation watch is faster, has improved battery life (around 5 hours when using GPS), automatically pauses and resumes when you stop or start running, and features indoor and outdoor running workout options – cementing this product's place as a sports watch, not just a smartwatch.

Runner's edge

A combination of GPS, Wi-Fi, and locally stored satellite data to help identify your position, so you can immediately start your workout. It also records precise distance, pace, and speed for outdoor runs – all without needing to take an iPhone.

No matter where you are in the world, pressing and holding the side button initiates a call to emergency services. This will also automatically notify and share your location with your emergency contacts.

The watch is water resistant to 50m, meaning you can cool off after a run in the pool or ocean and get credit for every stroke.

Listen to music through your watch by selecting which playlists or podcasts you want to sync from your iPhone (up to 2GB or 250 songs).

Fitbit Surge

Features

The Fitbit Surge was one of the first watches to include all-day fitness tracking, GPS, smartphone notifications and an optical heart-rate sensor. Today these features are common across most sports brand watches, but the Fitbit Surge still ranks strongly against competing running/activity tracking watches.

Super easy to start-up and use, this watch features run time, distance, pace and elevation stats on the display and wrist-based heart rate monitoring – meaning no straps and chafing.

Runner's edge

Connect your Fitbit and Strava accounts, and every run you record on Surge will be automatically uploaded to your Strava.

With multi-sport functionality and SmartTrack™ automatic exercise recognition, Fitbit Surge lets you track every aspect of your training. Use multi-sport modes for the most precise tracking during workouts and real-time stats on display. Or rely on SmartTrack to automatically recognise and record select exercises for you.

Garmin Forerunner 35

Features

It seems like every month Garmin releases a new running watch making the challenge of choosing the right one all the more difficult. The Forerunner 35 is a feature-packed running watch that helps give you a fuller picture of your running performance. A 24/7 heart rate monitor, built-in GPS, smart phone notifications and automatic uploads to the Garmin Connect fitness community application, this lightweight watch is a solid running companion for those not wanting to break the budget.

Runner's edge

Stay connected to family and friends with the live tracking feature, which lets them follow your runs in real time.

No need to switch out your watch or start a new activity – the watch automatically recognises when your movement changes so you can go from a walk to a run in no time.

Polar M200

Features

The affordable Polar M200 is a waterproof running watch with wrist-based heart rate, integrated GPS and 24/7 activity tracking. This easy-to-use watch is available in five changeable wristband colours and features smart coaching technology to help guide runners on how to train at the right intensity.

While great for runners who just want the basic performance stats, the Polar M200 still boasts everyday tracking features such as steps, burned calories, sleep time and sleep quality.

Runner's edge

Train for a running event (5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon) with a personalised and adaptive running plan in the Polar Flow desktop and mobile application.

Wrist-based heart rate measurement tracks your heart rate accurately and easily, and gives guidance on how to train at the right intensity.

TomTom Spark Cardio+Music GPS Sport Watch

Features

With GPS, heart rate monitoring and built-in music playback all-in-one watch, the Tom Tom Spark Cardio+Music is a nice piece of running tech that's squarely aimed at athletes who don't want to take their mobile phone or music player with them on runs. The large design and big menu buttons makes accessing the settings easy when running and it's loaded with an impressive suite of training programs such as interval, heart rate or pace.

Runner's edge

Sync, store, share and study your activities on the TomTom MySports App, or in any of your favourite apps like Strava, Runkeeper, MapMyFitness, NikePlus or Endomondo. Play over 500 songs from your GPS fitness watch. Store your playlists on your watch and play them wirelessly during your run.

Check out the gallery above for some of the best high-tech watches for runners.

The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.

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