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One of the best things about running for exercise is that it’s simple. It doesn’t require a lot of gear or an expensive gym membership. Get yourself a sturdy pair of shoes (okay, and a decent sports bra) and you’re ready to go. But if you want to get just a little more serious about your fitness, a GPS watch is an easy way to level up — and the Garmin Forerunner 35 (From $112.99, Amazon) is a user-friendly, affordable option we love.
Running watches are designed to help you keep track of how far you run, how fast you go, and how your heart is handling the exercise. But some of them have a slew of other features that can make them complicated and downright confusing to figure out. Others can be clunky and uncomfortable. This Garmin model, on the other hand, is straightforward, slim, and lightweight.
Available in four solid colors (black, white, frost blue, or lime green), the Garmin Forerunner 35 monitors your heart rate and counts your steps, so it’s useful even on days when you’re not running. When you do head out, it tracks your distance, pace, along with your pulse, and uploads the info to Garmin Connect, an app that pairs with your watch and lets you create workouts, design running routes, and share your progress with training buddies.
Love to listen to podcasts or music while you run? Bluetooth connectivity lets you sync this watch up with earbuds, and music controls on the side let you pause or skip tracks and adjust the volume. When paired with your phone, the Forerunner 35 also notifies you of texts and social media alerts, so you don’t need to worry about being out of touch on a long run — or toting your phone along with you.
If you do run/walk interval training (a great option for beginning runners), this watch will keep track of that for you, too. Set it to the interval you prefer, and the watch will alert you when it’s time to take a walking break or speed up to a run.
Amazon reviewers looking for simple running watch options rave about the Garmin Forerunner 35: “I was hoping to have a smart watch that wasn’t too complicated, that would record steps and activities, be waterproof, and not have to be charged every three days,” wrote one runner. “So far, this watch has been excellent. The breakdown of my walks and runs has great detail in the app — definitely as much as I will ever need.”
Many reviewers point out that because this watch uses buttons instead of a touch screen, it’s more runner-friendly than something like an Apple Watch. “Anyone who has used a touch screen while wet or sweaty will appreciate this,” wrote one.
The bottom line on this watch? As one customer put it, “It’s easy and that’s all I need.” And isn’t that what we all love most about running?
Where to buy: From $112.99 (Originally $169.99), Amazon