Measuring the calories you burn while running is no longer a guessing game thanks to advances in technology. The cutting-edge gadgets on the market have ingeniously been fashioned into watch-sized computers that strap handily onto your wrist to go along for the ride, whether you're running on a treadmill at the gym or going for a run on an outdoor trail.
For the Beginner
If you're just starting out with your running regimen, you probably want a basic watch that will help you keep track of calories burned. Even the simplest running watches still offer more than that. Features might be counting laps and keeping track of your time, logging your distance by communicating with a footpod and monitoring your heart rate to help keep you in your optimum burning zone. These watches come with a USB connector so you can upload the data from your runs to your computer, giving your watch battery a recharge in the process.
A Trainer on Your Wrist
If what you need is a watch that acts as your personal trainer, keeping track of individual workouts for months at a time, then a fitness trainer running watch will fit the bill. These watches keep track of your laps, your heart rate and calories burned for up to two months. The USB kit doesn't typically come standard with these, but it is an add-on option that will allow you to connect your computer to your running watch and track your progress long-term. You'll have to keep track of distances you run; your trainer watch won't do that or clock your speed, either.
For the Runner Who Wants It All
If you're a facts and figures nut, you'll love the running watches that not only measure your calories burned, speed and distance, but also tally your heart rate, track your cadence and lap times, store your averages and have the ability to wirelessly interact with cardio machines that are ANT+ enabled. Not quite enough? That's OK -- these supercomputers on a wrist strap also track your weight, body water and body fat, among other health measurements.
Be Prepared to Pay
You can find moderately priced and even outright cheap pedometers. When you want a more advanced fitness monitor like a running watch that keeps track of the calories you burn, you'll be shelling out at least $130 or more -- even up to $550. You'll get your money's worth out of your running watch if it does what you need without the extra bells and whistles. If you'll really use those extras, then it's worth spending the money. Before you even go shopping, make a list of features you want. Be aware that some watches overlap on the options they offer. Be resolute and stick to your list so you don't get carried away when the salesman shows you the shiny watch that does everything but make you dinner.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.