Sponsored by Ally

What to Look for When Gifting a Running Watch

Jason Fitzgerald
by Jason Fitzgerald
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What to Look for When Gifting a Running Watch

MapMyRun and Ally have teamed up because they both recognize the connection between finances and physical fitness and the important roles they each have on personal well-being.

Runners love their technology. With an explosion in the reliability, selection and features of new fitness wearables, runners can invest in watches that track much more than pace and time.

The most important metrics of GPS watch for runners include:

  • Elapsed time.
  • Current pace.
  • Average pace.
  • Elevation gain and loss.
  • Mile or kilometer splits.

While there are many other metrics — like ground contact time, cadence and vertical oscillation — but they’re not as important to track. You can certainly find watches that measure these, but most runners are interested in the simpler metrics.

At Ally, we don’t just care about your finances — we care about you. That’s why we’ve dug deeper into what it means to be financially fit. Just like physical fitness, there are different ways to be financially fit. Your training program depends on what you want to accomplish, and you should approach your financial routine the same way. Learn more at Ally.com.

So if you’re buying a GPS watch for that special runner in your life, how do you make sure it’s a gift they love (and doesn’t empty your wallet)?


First, make sure the runner wants a new watch. If they will never use the gift, it doesn’t matter how great its features or how stylish it looks.

You can start by asking the potential recipient about their running. How much do they run per week? How do they track their mileage? How do they know how fast they’re running? Do they think GPS watches are accurate?

Answers to these questions will help you understand if the runner in your life cares about these metrics, already has a watch they like and believes GPS watches to be helpful. If you like what you hear, you’re ready to start browsing watch models.

If they use a fitness tracking app, such as MapMyRun, it can be helpful to find a watch that syncs with the app so workout data can easily be transferred and analyzed.

You’ll also want look at their current watch in pictures or in person. Does it have a large or small face? Is it white, black or a bright color? This will help you get close to his or her personal sense of style while shopping.


First, choose a reputable brand that offers excellent tech support, accuracy and communities to share stories of how to best use the products.

An important but sometimes overlooked feature is how often the watch takes a GPS signal while you’re out running. Watches that record location every second (rather than every five seconds) will more accurately track a runner’s distance and pace. This is an important feature in any GPS watch, particularly for trail runners who find themselves on winding trails that turn frequently. And when runners begin a variety of workouts that combine sprinting and jogging, they’ll need a more accurate watch.

Finally, carefully read the reviews on the model that you’re considering. Any watch that has an average rating below four (out of five) stars should be avoided. Focus on two-, three- and four-star ratings to see the reasons why the watch was not given five stars. After just a few minutes of review, you’ll see what’s important to runners and hopefully notice patterns that will better inform your buying decision.


Once you’ve found the model that you’re looking for, it’s time to be a smart shopper and ensure you’re not overspending.

First, check deal sites or online discount code sites for potential savings. You may be able to find the model you’d like to purchase at a steep discount. Stopping at retail locations to compare in-store prices is a good option as well, though savings are typically higher online.

Another option that’s often overlooked is to see if the previous year’s model is available. Sometimes, there are only minor product changes from year to year. And as long as the major metrics and features that you decided upon are included in the previous year’s design, there’s little reason to spend hundreds of additional dollars on the most updated model.

With a little bit of investigation and due diligence, you’ll be able to find a GPS watch that the beloved runner in your life loves — without breaking the bank!

Written by Jason Fitzgerald, head coach at Strength Running, one of the web’s largest coaching sites for runners. He is a 2:39 marathoner and USA Track & Field–certified coach.


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Sponsored By

Sponsored by - Ally
About Ally

Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) is a leading digital financial services company and a top 25 U.S. financial holding company offering financial products for consumers, businesses, automotive dealers and corporate clients. Ally's legacy dates back to 1919, and the company was redesigned in 2009 with a distinctive brand, innovative approach and relentless focus on its customers. Ally has an award-winning online bank (Ally Bank Member FDIC), one of the largest full-service auto finance operations in the country, a complementary auto-focused insurance business, a growing digital wealth management and online brokerage platform, and a trusted corporate finance business offering capital for equity sponsors and middle-market companies.

About the Author

Jason Fitzgerald
Jason Fitzgerald

Jason is the founder of Strength Running, a USA Track & Field certified running coach and 2017’s Men’s Running’s Influencer of the Year. Learn more about how he can help you run faster.


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