Skip to content

5 Best Garmin Watches for Running | Forerunner 945/245/55, fenix 6 Pro, & Venu 2

Get faster and fitter with one of these Garmin running watches.
Which one's your speed?

The Best Triathlon and Marathon Training Watch

Best Overall Garmin Running GPS Watch

Best Garmin Watch to Start Running With

Best Garmin Watch for Adventurers and Extreme Runners

Included Premium Garmin Features

Color Display

Built-In Multi-GNSS
(GPS, Galileo, GLOSNASS)

Wrist-Based Heart Rate
Garmin's Elevate Optical Sensor

Extensive Running Features

Body Battery™ Energy Monitor

Daily Smartwatch Features

Extended Battery Life

Tons of Sports Apps

Most Stylish Running
Smartwatch


Find your perfect running partner ...

In this article, we're featuring 5 Garmin watches for running—and we're confident that one will align perfectly with your running goals!

So what makes an exceptional running watch? Our criteria is a combination of health monitoring, training & tracking features, battery life, cost, versatility, and style. Garmin excels in all these areas, but what's more: Garmin knows no two runners are the same. So they package their incredible features into different GPS smartwatches and price points!

The PlayBetter picks for 5 best Garmin watches for running include:

Plus, we'll show you any options you may have with each watch. For example, if phone-free music isn't your priority while you train, you can get the Forerunner 245 without on-watch music for $50 less. So come run with us through this list and find the Garmin running watch that was created for you!

Short on Time? Jump to the Garmin Running Watch Comparison Table.




5 Ways to Run with Confidence.
Which One Is Your Speed?


Best Triathlon GPS Watch — Garmin Forerunner 945/945 LTE

You need functionality, precision, and options when chasing down your insane goals, and the Forerunner 945 has all this and more to help you analyze and optimize your performance. Here's why and how you're going to love this premium multisport watch as your new marathon and triathlon training partner:

    • It's lightweight, doesn't feel bulky
    • Made with premium, durable materials
    • Stream your music and podcast to your bluetooth headphones; store up to 1,000 songs
    • Stores up to 200 hours of activity data, allowing you to go back and analyze your past several workouts without needing an app
    • Sensors galore for heart rate, temperature, elevation, weather, compass, and more
    • Garmin Coach and built-in sports apps, running dynamics on your cadence, stride, contact time, balance, and more offers insight on your form so you can adjust and improve
    • The most Firstbeat metrics (18), which are advanced performance analytics for stress, recovery, and exercise
    • More navigation features like full color mapping, ClimbPro, Turn-By-Turn navigation, and roundtrip routing
    • Stay safe and connected with Assistance and Incident Detection features
    • Sports modes and training for running, biking, swimming, and much more

More Options with the Forerunner 945 LTE

    • Stay safer! With the Forerunner 945 LTE, you get all of this plus (with an LTE subscription) you can leave your phone at home and get Assistance Plus, which automatically sends your name and location from your watch alone to the Garmin IERCC, a 24/7 staffed professional emergency response coordination center that can contact and communicate with local emergency services.
    • Stay more connected! Also with the Forerunner 945 LTE running watch, get midrace motivation with audio and text messages from your family and friends with Spectator Messaging.

If you're ready to do it all, give it all, and take it all ... get the watch that has it all!

Compare all the Forerunner 945 features side-by-side in our comparison chart below!

 


Best Overall Garmin Running Watch — The Forerunner 245 Music  

Get high-end features for a midrange price with the 245 Music running watch. You can get to know yourself as a runner and go next level with this feature-loaded GPS smartwatch. And go even further with your most motivating tunes—the Forerunner 245 Music gives you on-watch music so you can go phone-free!

This super savvy sports watch for runners is stuffed with performance-enhancing features, including:

    • Garmin Coach for free adaptive training plans
    • Built-in sports apps (cycling, pool swimming, track running, elliptical, stair-stepper, etc.)
    • Wrist-based heart rate
    • Built-in GPS for accurate location, distance, pace, and intervals
    • Running Dynamics (with a compatible accessory) for crucial running metrics like cadence, stride length, ground contact time and balance
    • VO2 MAX can tell you how you might expect to perform with heat or altitude factors
    • The Pulse Ox sensor can help gauge how your body is absorbing oxygen—even while you sleep
    • Training Status let you know if you’re training productively, peaking, or overreaching
    • Training Load compares your most recent stats to your optimal and historical fitness stats
    • Recovery Time advises you on how long to rest be for your next big run, factoring in stress, sleep, and activity outside your workouts
    • Body Battery Energy Monitor lets you know the best times to be active and rest
    • Women’s Health Tracking (in app) lets you track your menstrual cycle or pregnancy
    • Receive text messages and view social media updates, emails, and more from this best Garmin smartwatch
    • Get built-in assistance and incident detection and manually or automatically send a message with your real-time location to emergency contacts
    • Automatically upload activities to the Connect community, and you can download custom watch faces, data fields, and apps from the Connect IQ™ Store
    • Store up to 500 songs on your watch, no phone needed while you run!

More options with the Forerunner 245

    • Don't need an elaborate play list while you run? Get the standard Forerunner 245—the exact same watch minus on-watch music for $50 less, and you can still control the music on your phone!

Compare all the Forerunner 245/245 Music features side-by-side in our comparison chart below!

 


Best Garmin Watch for Beginning Runners — The Forerunner 55

The Forerunner 55 is an easy-to-use running watch perfectly designed for new runners. At an ultra attractive price, it's loaded with tools that will help you achieve your fitness goals, take your training to the next level, and keep you in tune with your health and wellness.

But don't get us wrong—the simplicity of this watch is in the user experience. It's still loaded with features that runners at every level will love, like:

    • Built-in tracking for how far, how fast, and where you run. Includes multi-GNSS (GPS, Galileo, GLONASS) for tracking in the most challenging environments, like tall buildings and heavy tree cover.
    • Wrist-based heart rate provides data all day and night
    • All-day activity tracking counts steps, calories, sleep, and more
    • Daily Suggested Workouts take the guesswork out of training by offering personalized run workouts tailored to your training history, fitness level, and recovery time
    • Garmin Coach training plans offer on-screen guidance from expert coaches and free 5K, 10K, or half marathon training plans that adapt based on your goals
    • Safety features let you send a message with your location to family and friends
    • PacePro provides guidance to help you tailor your efforts to a selected course or distance
    • The finish time estimator lets you select a run distance and get an estimated finish time right on your wrist
    • Cadence alerts let you know when you’ve gone outside your target cadence range, helping to improve your running form
    • Built-in activity profiles, including track or virtual running, pool swimming, Pilates, HIIT, and more
    • Built-in recovery advisor lets you know how long to rest before your next big effort
    • Body Battery™ energy monitor tracks your energy levels to find the best times for activity and rest
    • Women can track their menstrual cycle or pregnancy and log symptoms, receive exercise and nutrition education, and more through the free app
    • Receive text messages and view social media updates, emails, and more
    • Automatically upload activities to Garmin Connect (a free app and global community of Garmin users), and you can download custom watch faces, data fields, and apps from the Connect IQ™ Store.

Compare all the Forerunner 55 features side-by-side in our comparison chart below!


Most Stylish Running Smartwatch — The Garmin Venu 2

Smartwatch or sport watch? How about a GPS wearable that blends the best of both worlds brilliantly and with gorgeous style. Not only is the Garmin Venu 2/2S loaded with running features and health monitoring, if offers size and color options to fit your lifestyle and training style. Here are just a few reasons why we love it for before, during, and after runs:

    • Display Size Options — Want a larger, bright AMOLED display on your wrist? Opt for the 1.3" Venu 2. For a more classic look or for smaller wrists, the Venu 2S offers a 1.1" display. AMOLED displays allow for more control over each pixel, resulting in richer blacks and power economy in darker watch faces.
    • Advanced Health Monitoring Features — The new Health Snapshot widget allows you to log a 2-minute session to record key stats, including heart rate, heart rate variability, Pulse Ox, respiration, and stress. Generate a report with those stats via the Garmin Connect app to share with your doctor, trainer, or friends. You also get the latest update of the Garmin Elevate heart rate sensor, which has improved the sleep tracking function.
    • Advanced Training/Workout Features — Easy-to-follow, animated cardio, strength, yoga, Pilates, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts come preloaded on the Venu 2/2S, and you can download more from the Garmin Connect app. This multisport GPS watch also has added sport modes and advanced strength training and workout profiles.
    • Get the new Fitness Age widget in the Venu 2 series, which reinterprets your VO2 Max score in terms of age to make it more relatable to how you are training.
    • Safety Features — Get LiveTrack and built-in incident detection (with select outdoor activities), so your live location can be sent to your contacts manually or automatically for assistance.
    • Smart Features — Get music on your watch (up to 650 songs), notifications, and pay for that post-workout coffee right form your wrist with Garmin Pay™!

More options with the Venu 2/2S

Get a variety of sizes and colors with the Garmin Venu 2 and the Venu 2S.

Compare all the Venu 2/2S features side-by-side in our comparison chart below!


Best Outdoor GPS Watch for Running — The Garmin fēnix® 6 Pro

You're a rugged and sophisticated runner. Meet your match with the the Garmin fēnix® 6 Pro multisport watch, loaded with the features that will help you hone your stride for your regular workouts and recreational activities, such as:

    • Running Dynamics, PacePro, Race Predictor, run workouts and profiles for swimming, biking, hiking, golfing, and more!
    • Get Garmin's cutting-edge design on your wrist, made with durable materials for rugged adventures  
    • Multi-GNSS (GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo)
    • Heart rate, Pulse Ox, and VO2 Max 
    • This stylish sports watch offers access to advanced features such as built-in activity profiles, performance metrics, and training load balance readings.
    • With the added customizable Power Manager, users are able to maximize battery life for efficient use throughout the day
    • For you mountain and trail runners and cross-trainers, when you leave the grid, so does the fēnix 6 Pro. It has preloaded maps for 2,000 ski resorts, profiles for backcountry skiing, mountain biking dynamics, surfing features, and 41,000+ preloaded maps to golf courses around the world
    • PacePro technology gives you grade-adjusted guidance
    • Music compatibility that allows you to store up to 2,000 songs on your smartwatch and leave your phone at home
    • Get Wi-Fi for more connectivity

More options with the fēnix® 6 Pro

The Garmin fēnix 6 family is a big one and includes:

To learn more about all the fēnix® 6 options and pricing, check out this article.

Compare all the fēnix® 6 Pro features side-by-side in our comparison chart below!


Sold out

Sold out

Sold out

Sold out

Sold out

COMPARISON TABLE: GARMIN FORERUNNER 55/245/945, VENU 2, & FENIX 6 PRO

Forerunner 55 Forerunner 245/245 Music Forerunner 945 Venu 2/2S fenix 6 Pro

Price

Sold out
Sold out
Sold out
Garmin Forerunner 945 Premium GPS Running Watch - Black Watch Only - Right Angle
Sold out
Sold out

Colors

Black, White, Aqua

 245: Slate Gray, Berry
245 Music: Black,
White, Aqua

Black, Blue (bundle only)
LTE: Black, Whitestone

Venu 2: slate/black, silver/
granite blue
Venu 2S: light gold/light sand,
rose gold/white,
silver/mist gray,
slate/graphite

Black

Battery

Smartwatch Mode:
Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode:
Up to 20 hours

Smartwatch Mode:
Up to 7 days
GPS mode with music:
Up to 6 hours
GPS mode without music:
Up to 24 hours

Smartwatch Mode:
Up to 2 weeks
GPS mode with music:
Up to 10 hours (12 for LTE)
GPS mode without music:
Up to 36 hours (35 for LTE)
GPS mode with LTE LiveTrack:
Up to 10 hours
GPS mode with music
and LTE LiveTrack:
Up to 7 hours

Venu 2
Smartwatch mode:
Up to 11 days
Battery saver smartwatch
mode: Up to 12 days
GPS mode with music:
Up to 8 hours
GPS mode without music:
up to 22 hours

Venu 2S
Smartwatch mode:
Up to 10 days
Battery saver smartwatch
mode: Up to 11 days
GPS mode with music:
Up to 7 hours
GPS mode without music:
Up to 19 hours

Smartwatch:
Up to 14 days

Battery Saver Watch Mode:
Up to 48 days
GPS: Up to 36 hours
GPS + Music:
Up to 10 hours

Max Battery GPS Mode:
Up to 72 hours
Expedition GPS Activity:
Up to 28 days

Display

1.04" (26.3 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

1.2" (30.4 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

Venu 2
1.3" (33.0 mm) diameter
AMOLED touchscreen
optional always-on mode
Venu 2S
1.1" (27.9 mm) diameter

AMOLED touchscreen
optional always-on mode

1.3” (33.02 mm) diameter
sunlight-visible, transflective
memory-in-pixel (MIP)

Advanced
Features

  • New Women's
    Health Widget
  • 24/7 Respiration Rate
  • New Fitness Age Widget
  • Relaxation Reminders
  • auto prompts
  • finish time
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Control Music from Phone
    or on Watch (245 Music)
  • Stores up to 500
    Songs (245 Music)
  • Cardio and Strength
    Workouts
  • Running Dynamics
  • Virtual Partner
  • Point-to Point Navigation
  • Bread Crumb Trail (real time)
  • Back to Start
  • TracBack
  • UltraTrac
  • Varia™ Compatibility
  • auto prompts
  • finish time
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Running Dynamics
  • Advanced Running Features
  • Golfing Features
  • Stores up to 1,000
    Songs
  • Daily suggested workouts
  • Around Me Mode
  • Elevation Profile
  • Storm Alert
  • ClimbPro Ascent Planner
  • Trail Run Auto Climb
  • Preloaded Topo Maps
  • Preloaded Road/Trail Maps
  • Downloadable Maps
  • Projected Waypoints
  • Advanced Cycling Features
  • Advanced Swim Features
  • auto prompts
  • finish time
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Live Event Sharing
    (Android only)

With 945 LTE:

  • LTE Connectivity
  • Assistance Plus
  • Spectator Messaging
  • Golfing Features
  • Pulse Ox Sensor
  • Stress Tracking
  • Hydration Tracking
  • Respiration Tracking
  • Sleep Score and Advanced
    Sleep Monitoring
  • Mindful Breathing
  • Built-in Sports Apps
  • Create Workouts
  • Garmin Coach
  • on-screen workout animations
  • Intensity Minutes
  • Music (store up to 650 songs)
  • Garmin Pay
  • Running Dynamics
  • Advanced Running Features
  • Advanced Golfing Features
  • Stores up to 2,000
    Songs
  • Around Me Mode
  • Elevation Profile
  • Storm Alert
  • ClimbPro Ascent Planner
  • Trail Run Auto Climb
  • Preloaded Topo Maps
  • Preloaded Road/Trail Maps
  • Downloadable Maps
  • Projected Waypoints
  • Advanced Cycling Features
  • Advanced Swim Features
  • auto prompts
  • finish time
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Battery saver
    (customizable low
    power watch)
  • auto prompts
  • finish time
  • PacePro
  • Race Predictor
  • Live Event Sharing
  • on-screen workout animations
  • Power Modes - customizable
    in-activity battery settings
  • Expedition GPS Activity

Shared
Features

  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance
  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance
  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance
  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance
  • Activity Tracking Features
  • Built-In GPS
  • Basic Gym Activity Profiles
  • Wrist-Based Heart Rate
  • Recovery Time
  • Customizable Data Pages
    and Activity Profiles
  • VO2 Max (Run)
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Running Profiles
  • GPS-Based Distance,
    Time, and Pace
  • Cadence
  • Run Workouts
  • Swimming and Cycling Profiles
  • LiveTrack
  • Incident Detection
  • Assistance

PlayBetter
Offers

  • Free 2-Day Shipping
  • Free 60-Day Returns
  • PlayBetter Customer Service
  • Free 2-Day Shipping
  • Free 60-Day Returns
  • PlayBetter Customer Service
  • Free 2-Day Shipping
  • Free 60-Day Returns
  • PlayBetter Customer Service
  • Free 2-Day Shipping
  • Free 60-Day Returns
  • PlayBetter Customer Service
  • Free 2-Day Shipping
  • Free 60-Day Returns
  • PlayBetter Customer Service
Previous article Peloton vs Tacx NEO/FLUX vs Wahoo KICKR | How to Choose Your Smart Indoor Bike Trainer
Next article Best Bushnell Golf Laser Rangefinder | The Pro XE and Tour V5