Best Fitbits for Runners in 2018

Fitbit offers several great wearables to track your daily steps, exercise, sleep, heart rate, weight, and more. These devices can make your fitness goals more attainable by providing an easy way to monitor vital information related to staying healthy.

If you’re a runner, Fitbit is an excellent option for tracking workouts and monitoring key stats like pace and heart rate.

Fitbit has quite a few models. It can be difficult to choose the best one for you depending on your lifestyle and goals.

Thankfully, we’ve done the heavy lifting so you can make an informed decision. Our guide will detail the best Fitbit’s for runners and outline the benefits and drawbacks of each.


Top 3 Best and Favorites

Best Overall Fitbit

Ionic

Best Smartwatch Fitbit

Versa

Best Value Fitibit

Flex 2

Best Fitbit for Running

1. Ionic

The Ionic is Fitbit’s top-of-the-line running watch.

GPS tracking gives you time, pace, and distance during your run. After you upload it to your phone, you can see the exact route you ran, pace, calories burned, elevation, and distance. Track lap times, so you can see how your performance changes during your run.

Track heart rate with the Ionic’s wrist heart rate monitor. Fitbit makes it easy to track heart rate throughout the day. They break it down into set heart rate zones. So you know when you are running hard, running easy, sitting, and when you are stressed out. Heart rate tracking also allows for more accurate calories burning estimates.

The Ionic can be loaded with hundreds of songs and stream from Pandora using wireless headphones. You can download other apps including Strava, weather, and sports apps. Contact-less payments (like the Apple Watch) allow for buying things on the go with nothing but the watch.

The Ionic is water resistant. You don’t have to worry about it getting damaged in the rain. It can be worn while swimming to track laps in the pool.

It features lightweight materials and design, making it perfect for long runs. Find out who’s calling or texting you just by looking at the watch.

Finally, personalized coaching can be activated on the watch. Receive new workouts based on what you’ve completed in the past.


PROS:

  • Fitbit pay: feature allows you to link a credit card and pay for things using your Fitbit
  • Hi-Resolution touchscreen provides beautiful detail for apps and videos
  • The swappable watchbands allow you to customize the watch
  • The Ionic Adidas Edition comes with workouts designed by Adidas to make you a better runner

CONS:

  • Battery life not great with GPS – up to 10 hours active use (5 days without GPS)
  • Expensive
  • The case scratches easily

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Top Smartwatch Fitbit

2. Versa

The Versa comes with many of the same features as the Ionic. You can download various apps, get notifications, and play music just like you would on the Ionic. The Versa even costs less than the Ionic.

But it’s not our top running Fitbit because you need to carry your phone with you on your run. While the Ionic has built-in GPS, the Versa relies on your phone’s GPS to track your runs.

There are certainly reasons to always carry your phone (safety being the biggest priority). But there will times (like races) where you won’t want to carry a phone. Plus the GPS on your phone isn’t as accurate as the built-in GPS on the Ionic.

However, that doesn’t mean the Versa is not a great running watch. If you don’t mind taking your phone with you, you’ll still be able to track your runs. After your workout, view details about the run on your phone once the Versa wirelessly syncs.

The female health tracking allows women to track their cycle, and gauge ovulation. Use Smarttrack to automatically determine what type of exercise you’re doing. You can also select manually from more than 15 options and receive real-time stats about your work out.

The battery lasts for about four days, so you don’t have to worry about charging it all the time. Like the Ionic it’s water resistant, so can get wet. Like the Ionic, it will track swim workouts in the pool.

Built-in heart rate monitoring tracks your active and resting heart rate throughout the day.

The slim design makes it easy to keep it on at all times. Customize the Versa with different bands and downloadable clock faces. Take customization to a new level by developing your own clock face.


PROS:

  • Almost half the price of the Apple Watch
  • The simple interface makes it easy to reach your fitness stats
  • The compact design allows you to go about your day without thinking about the watch

CONS:

  • You need to bring your phone when running to accurately track your runs
  • Fitbit pay is only available on a more expensive special edition model
  • Downloading music to the phone can be difficult

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Best Fitbit for Fitness

3. Charge 3

The Charge 3 pairs down the smartwatch features to focus on fitness.

It’s like a simpler Versa. More fitness tracker than smartwatch.

It works well for running. But like the Versa, you need to bring and connect it your smartphone in order to track runs accurately with GPS.

If you don’t feel like conneccting your phone, the Charge 3 continuously monitors the type of exercise you’re doing. It automatically recognizes whether you are going for a run, cycling, or swimming. This won’t be as accurate without GPS, but it provides decent guidance. And it’s great for impulsive runners.

Use the goal-based exercise function to set goals for more than 15 different types of exercise and get real-time stats.

Get reminders throughout the day when you’re sitting for too long. Track your heart rate and sleep cycle for personalized insights into your health. The SpO2 sensor allows the watch to estimate changes in blood oxygen and help track things like sleep apnea.

Find out the weather, and set timers with the everyday apps. The battery lasts for up to 7 days, so charging is infrequent.

The Backlit display automatically adjusts to current lighting for easy viewing. Like some of the other models it’s water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry if it gets wet. The greyscale OLED display screen makes text easy to read. The touchscreen makes it easy to move between apps.

Switch to different watch faces using the companion app to personalize the tracker.


PROS:

  • Water resistant so you can take it just about anywhere.
  • Extremely long battery life
  • Big, bright screen makes it easy to look at notifications from your paired phone

CONS:

  • Swiping on the touchscreen doesn’t work as well as it should
  • Needs to connect with a phone to accurately track runs

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Best Fitbit Fitness Tracker

4. Alta and Alta HR

The Alta and Alta HR give you great fitness tracking features.

Neither is ideal for running. But they will work if you are an occasional runner, more focused on tracking steps and just getting some daily form of exercise.

The Alta and Alta HR are slim and lightweight. You’ll barely notice you’re wearing it as you run or go about your daily routine.

The main purpose of the Alta is to track your daily steps and sleep. But like the Charge 3, it can recognize various types of exercise automatically, including running and elliptical. Wirelessly sync activities and steps to your phone after you work out.

The sleep tracker gives you insight on sleep patterns. The Alta has a silent alarm that gently wakes you up.

Receive reminders to move so that you don’t end up sitting too long throughout your day.

The slim OLED display lets you flip through stats, notifications, and the time with a simple tap.  Choose a look that fits your style by swapping out the factory band for a leather, metal or designer band.

The most significant difference between the two is the HR includes a wrist heart rate monitor. The monitor gives you more accurate readings for calories burned and sleep. The HR also includes Fitbit sleep stages to help you improve your sleep when paired with a Smartphone app.

The Alta features about 5 days of battery life and the HR features about 7. The Alta HR cost $20 more than the Alta.


PROS:

  • The Alta is the slimmest fitness tracker on the market with an OLED display screen
  • Easy to switch out the band and find one to fit your style
  • The interface is easy to use

CONS:

  • Neither of these models is water resistant
  • The small screen makes it hard to read long texts or names
  • Neither model is ideal for experienced runners

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Best Budget Fitbit Tracker


5. Flex 2

The Flex 2 gives you basic functions at an affordable price.

It features a removable tracker that easily pops out of its band for charging. The small tracker is 31.7 x 8.9 x 6.8 millimeters and weighs 0.83 ounces making it very low profile. It doesn’t have a screen, but it syncs to your phone to track fitness data.

Like Fitbit’s other trackers, this isn’t ideal for running. But it can tell what type of exercise you’re doing – including running. And it provides some basic data after you run.

The tracker can be placed into specially designed bangles, and pendants to turn them into jewelry. This allows you to dress the tracker app for special occasions, so you can track your movements in style wherever you go.

The Flex 2 tracks calories burned, sleep patterns, steps, distance, active time and time sitting.  The data is easily viewable with the companion smartphone app. Set bedtime reminder and vibrating alarms to develop healthy sleep habits.

Notifications are sent when you’ve been sitting too long, so you can stay healthy and active. The LED lights flash to let you know when you’ve received a text without having to look at your phone. Its water resistant construction means you can take it in the shower or for a swim.


PROS:

  • Small size allows you to wear the tracker and a watch on the same arm without being overwhelming
  • Affordable price
  • Setting up the app on the phone is quick and easy

CONS:

  • You can’t use the sleep feature if you wear it as a pendant
  • The LED light notifications can be hard to understand
  • Tracking only gives you basic information

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Best Discontinued Fitbit

6. Surge

The Surge is the precursor to the Ionic. It has built-in GPS to give you detailed information about your runs. The built-in heart monitor gives you more detailed information about calories burned and cardio fitness levels.

The vibration function allows you to create an alarm that won’t disturb others. Like the other models, it’s equipped with Smarttrack to automatically detect what type of exercise you’re doing. You can also manually choose your specific kind of exercise to get the most precise data possible.

You get call and text notifications onscreen so that you don’t have to look at your phone. The Surge wirelessly syncs its data to the app making it easy to view.  It features a large 1.25-inch black and white LCD touchscreen to make it easy to look at your stats.

The band has a sturdy wristwatch clasp to make sure it doesn’t fall off when you’re active.

PROS:

  • Great price
  • The elastomer band is comfortable to wear
  • The battery lasts for up to 7 days

CONS:

  • It has a black and white display that is outdated compared to the Ionic and Versa
  • It isn’t water resistant, so you need to make sure it doesn’t get wet
  • It doesn’t have notifications for Gmail or Facebook
  • It doesn’t have advanced apps like the Ionic and Versa

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Find out which Fitbits are best for running. While Fitbit is known more as a fitness tracker than a dedicated running watch, they do have some models that do well as both! Check out this article to find the best Fitbits for running.