What to Look For in a Sports Watch?

What to Look For in a Sports Watch?

Experience shows that most people, when they first start running, usually follow a distance-based method of training and shy away from time-based or heart rate-based methods. However running to a heart-rate or using a sports watch to time repetitions or training runs shouldn’t be something to be frightened of.

sports watch
The screen should be easily readable when running and the buttons easy to work when on the move.

Time-based or heart rate-based methods are perceived as complex and expensive, and there’s a lack of training programmes to follow. A common occurrence is for beginners to purchase a heart-rate monitor (HRM) because they understand its use, but then end up using it just as a watch – and to amaze their friends with how high their heart rate goes (or low, if you’re being really clever).

Here are a some key features to look for when choosing a sports watch that will help you get the most out of your training.


This function, once the preserve of top-end gadgets, is fast becoming the norm for all sports watches. It allows you to record all the lap (and other) data from your training session, to revisit it later when you’re analysing what you have done.


sports watch
Lap timing allows you to split the time readings as you go through a session.

Look for a watch that’s comfortable on your wrist, ideally with a vented strap to allow perspiration to disperse. The screen should be easily readable when running and the buttons easy to work when on the move.


This is a key function for getting the most out of your watch. It counts down a set time-span or, in the case of top-notch watches, a set pattern of time spans and then beeps to let you know that the interval has been completed. On some watches, this is referred to as a countdown timer.


This is the basic stopwatch function and a prerequisite of any sports watch.


This is a function normally found within the chronograph setting of the watch. It’ll allow you to split the time readings as you go through a session and will allow you to see the overall time and the current lap you’re on. This can be very helpful when interval training by distance or when racing, when you may want to record and judge your pace over set distances or efforts. Top-notch watches usually have memory or capacity for 200 lap times, although 50 should suit the needs of most runners.

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Written by Sean Lewis

Sean Lewis has been a keen runner since early years and took part in several 5k, 10k, half-marathons and marathons. He met his wife six years ago during a 10k race and they still like to go for a good run together.


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