While many of us are still happily munching on our Halloween spoils, Black Friday deals are just around the corner, which means the holidays and New Year are too. It’s never too early to start thinking about resolutions for 2024. And if running-related goals top your list, as they do mine, you’re in luck: Early Black Friday smartwatch deals abound.
One thing I love about running watches, and fitness-tracking wearables, in general, is how they gamify training and encourage users to set/meet workout goals. Whether it’s daily reminders to move or weekly reports on progress, these devices are like having an optimistic, fitness-focused digital buddy.
With this in mind, here are seven running watch deals worth sprinting for. Note: Some of these models have since been replaced by newer, shinier versions, but don’t be distracted by that. Last year’s models offer plenty of fitness-tracking goodness for much less coin.
Early Black Friday running watch deals — Quick links
- Garmin Forerunner 55: was $200 now $190 @ Walmart
- Fitbit Sense 2: was $300 now $198 @ Amazon
- Garmin Forerunner 245 Music: was $350 now $210 @ Amazon
- Garmin Venu 2: was $400 now $262 @ Amazon
- Polar Vantage V2: was $599 now $475 @ Target
- Garmin Forerunner 745: was $400 now $250 @ Amazon
- Apple Watch Series 8: was $400 now $325 @ Target
Best running watch deals — Editor Picks
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music: was $350 now $210 @ Amazon
This is one of the two deals I’m most excited about (the other is just below). The Forerunner 245 Music is a running and fitness-focused watch that offers the ability to, you guessed it, listen to music while running, without having to carry a smartphone (you can save up to 500 songs). I like this watch for its large, bright display and solid battery life. It’s also jam-packed with training metrics. Best of all, it’s smaller than a lot of other Garmin fitness watches (42mm case size), making it a little more inclusive for the masses.
Fitbit Sense 2: was $300 now $198 @ Amazon
The Fitbit Sense 2 is one of my favorite smartwatches, especially for keeping tabs on wellness and fitness goals. It also happens to be available for a super-low price at the moment. Beyond its comfy, customizable design and above-average battery life, the Sense 2 offers an array of useful tracking metrics and health features, including stress and sleep tracking. Plus, it plays nice with Google apps, like Maps and Wallet, both of which can be quite useful when out on a run.
Polar Vantage V2: was $599 now $475 @ Target
The Polar Vantage 3 may have just hit the scene but that doesn’t make the Vantage 2 any less fantastic of a choice for hardcore runners, especially for $125 off retail. If you’re serious about your training goals, this is a good model to go with thanks to a host of rest and recovery features aimed at helping users avoid overtraining. You can even make custom training plans using Polar Flow.
Garmin Venu 2: was $400 now $262 @ Amazon
The Garmin Venu 2 is a competent running watch with a gorgeous AMOLED screen, an accurate GPS, fantastic battery life and no shortage of fitness tracking features (note, this is not the phone call-enabled Plus version). It also boasts a rugged design that should hold up through even the most punishing training sessions.
Garmin Forerunner 55: was $200 now $190 @ Walmart
Here's a modest deal on the Garmin Forerunner 55 in sporty white. Our favorite running watch for beginners, the 55 is Garmin’s most entry-level, GPS-enabled running wearable. Entry-level or not, this model offers a lot of functionality for the price. For under $200, you get a large, highly legible screen, plenty of workout and recovery-based features, good battery life and reliable tracking metrics.
Garmin Forerunner 745: was $400 now $250 @ Amazon
Available for nearly $150 off in a minty tropic green color, the Garmin Forerunner 745 is a comfortable and easy-to-use fitness watch that offers a bit more functionality than the Forerunner 55 above. If your focus includes not just running, but swimming and cycling too, this is the watch for you. It’s bursting with features to help triathletes train and even supports mobile payment and music playback.
Apple Watch Series 8: was $400 now $325 @ Target
Last year’s Apple Watch Series 8 offers more functionality than most standard GPS-enabled running watches. And the device’s do-it-all disposition translates to a fantastic fitness and health tracking experience. Users can easily set health-related goals and monitor progress from Apple’s workout app. I also really appreciate the watch’s crash-detection feature, which offers peace of mind during solo runs. Plus, this deal comes with Apple’s super-comfy Sports Band.
What’s the difference between a running watch, smartwatch and fitness tracker?
Smartwatches tend to be more capable than fitness trackers when it comes to functions like browsing the web, making calls and cruising social media — they’re like mini smartphones for the wrist — while fitness trackers tend to prioritize monitoring wellness and workout goals over flashy features.
That said, most smartwatches offer fitness tracking features and many fitness trackers boast smartwatch-like tech. So how do running watches fit in? Most tend to fall somewhere in between the two. The Fitbit Sense 2, for instance, is a capable smartwatch with top-notch fitness tracking features. The Forerunner 245 Music, on the other hand, is a competent fitness wearable with limited non-fitness features.
For more on the differences between fitness trackers and smartwatches, check out our handy guide to choosing which is the right device for you.