If you’ve been considering ways to improve your running performance, this old-school gadget could be for you. The best stopwatches for running are designed to help you evaluate your performance and set (and break) realistic goals.
Our number one choice is the ULTRAK 496 – 500 Dual Split Memory stopwatch. It has a 500 lap split memory, is sleek, water-resistant, and has a variety of useful features.
Although you can download stopwatch apps to your phone, it’s not quite the same. Having a real stopwatch in your hand means you won’t be distracted by your mobile while training, and can focus purely on hitting those goals.
Let’s dive in and have a look at the top stopwatches around.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
ULTRAK 496 – 500 Dual Split Memory
BizoeRade Digital Stopwatch
ULTRAK 494 – EL/300 Dual Split Memory
1. ULTRAK 496 – 500 Dual Split Memory
The Ultrak is a great little stopwatch, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned runner. It’s straightforward and very user-friendly, and does exactly what it’s meant to, with a couple useful added functions.
The screen is a decent size for grabbing info at a quick glance. The current lap time is shown in a larger text so you can track yourself on the go.
A feature we particularly like is the ability to check your saved memory times during operation. There’s no need to stop and start the timer to go through your saved data.
The start/stop button is large and responsive. You can measure the stroke/frequency time, lap times, use the calendar, and set an alarm.
It’s highly useful for setting and working towards goals. You can program in a goal time for a set amount of laps, and it shows at each split whether you’re under or over your goal pace.
The 500 dual-split memory is impressive! It’s easy to refer back and compare to older times.
It’s also waterproof, which may not sound like it makes a difference to someone running on dry land. But it will be sweat-resistant too, so you don’t have to worry about it getting a little damp.
For its ease of use and great training features, the Ultrak tops our list of best stopwatches.
- 500 split memory
- Measures up to 10 hours
- Water and sweat resistant
- We like that it’s user-friendly
- Not the most durable
2. FINIS 3X100M Stopwatch
The Finis stopwatch comes in second purely because it has a smaller split memory than the Ultrak. The 100 dual-split memory is still more than adequate, though. It’s a high-quality, sturdy stopwatch that every runner would be able to utilize to improve their time.
This stopwatch does get a thumbs-up over the Ultrak for its lanyard. If you’re using this while you’re running, you don’t want it flopping around while you’re trying to improve your time. The cord is tough, and with a nice twist.
The screen is slightly smaller than the Ultrak, but it’s perfectly adequate for eyeballing your times while you’re on the move. It displays both your current split time and the cumulative time, so you can quickly see where you are in the race towards your goal.
The Finis will automatically calculate your stride rate, which is a nice extra bit of info you can use to improve your form. It’s programmed for every 3rd stride, which gives a great average.
This stopwatch is supremely user-friendly. It’s not bulky, and it also holds up well if it’s exposed to water.
- Sturdy lanyard
- 100 dual-split memory
- Automatically calculates stride rate
- Displays current time and cumulative time
- No way to turn off the sound
3. BizoeRade Digital Stopwatch
Runners on a budget, this stopwatch will suit both your wallet and your training. The BizoeRade is stylish as well as easy to use, and it offers some functions that our first two don’t. All at a nice price!
The display screen is a good size and it’s nice and bright. There’s also a backlight to enhance visibility if you need, which is activated by a small button to the left of the screen. It’s super for night training.
In addition to lap split timing (and impressive 200 split memory), there’s also a countdown timer for timing breaks. You can view your entries in the memory while the stopwatch is in operation for extra convenience.
There’s also a clock with the ability to set an alarm, as well as a metronome (to time your cadence). This is a one-up on others, although many runners may never use it.
All in all, this is a bang-for-your-buck stopwatch that looks like a top of the range offering and performs just as well. It was an easy choice for our Top Value spot!
- More affordable than most
- We like the bright display screen
- Accurate to 1/100th of a second
- Includes a countdown timer and metronome
- The instructions appear to not be adequate, but you can find detailed instructions online
Best for Lap Memory
4. ULTRAK 499: Stopwatch only
If you’re looking for the stopwatch with the largest lap memory capacity, this is the one. It holds up to 2000 split memories, which is 4 times more than our top pick.
The memories are stored by date and run number, so it’s easy to find specific times from past runs. You can set it beforehand to record either the lap & cumulative times, or the lap times & lap speeds.
Be aware that you can buy this one as part of a bundle. It has the ability to be connected to a computer or directly to a printer, but the hardware and software are optional.
This is a useful feature if you’re going to be recording your lap times off of your watch. But with 2000 entries in the watch memory, it’s up to you whether you need to record them elsewhere.
As well as its incredible memory capacity, this stopwatch has dual countdown timers (great for interval training) and automatic split release. It’s also water-resistant, so if it gets a bit of sweat on it, there’s nothing to worry about.
- We love the 2000 dual-split recallable memory
- Large, easy-on-the-fingers buttons
- Automatic split release
- Can buy computer/printer uploading hardware/software separately
- The sound can’t be turned off
- If you choose to link to a computer/printer, the pairing can be tricky at first
Best LED Light
5. ULTRAK 494 – EL/300 Dual Split Memory
Ultrak makes great, uncomplicated stopwatches, and this one is no different. It’s not fancy, but doesn’t need to be. It offers all the basics (including a 300 dual-split memory), has a 5-year warranty, and comes with a lanyard.
The LED light is a great touch. Some of us enjoy running at night, and having a light that’s effective but doesn’t blind you when you press the button is a welcome feature. Some users have mentioned that they find the light too dim, but it really comes down to personal preference.
You can pre-set your countdown timers and pacers. The split counter is helpful if you like to incorporate high intensity intervals into your training. Set the pacer to beep from 10 beeps per minute, which is great to keep you on steady and consistent pacing.
Something we quite like is the lock function. It’s frustrating when you sneak a glance at your stopwatch halfway through a lap and realize you bumped the button while you were running and it reset.
Some folks mention that the backlight isn’t bright enough for them, so it may be worthwhile testing before you buy. Personally, we liked that it isn’t a beacon in the darkness, but rather a gentle guide.
- We like that the backlight isn’t blinding in the dark
- Pre-settable countdown timer and pacer
- Displays fastest, slowest, and average lap time
- We particularly like the lock feature
- Some may find the backlight too dim for use in darker conditions
Most Color Options
6. ACCUSPLIT A601X Pro Survivor
A stopwatch doesn’t have to be boring! Choose one from this range to match your favorite outfit. It’s a simple stopwatch in function, offering only cumulative split timing and timing up to 40 minutes. Best for shorter workouts and events!
With “million-cycle” buttons, this stopwatch promises durability. They’re also “no-fail,” so they should be responsive and easy to push every time. If not, take advantage of the 5-year dual proof/no proof of purchase limited warranty.
For an affordable device, it’s surprisingly shock-proof and water resistant. Whether you take a tumble on a run or decide to cool off in the pool afterwards, this stopwatch should be able to deal with whatever you throw at it.
The color range offers 5 solid and 5 translucent designs. A great option if you only want to time shorter runs and aren’t into lap split timing yet.
- Affordable stopwatch option
- Million-cycle buttons for extra durability
- Water resistant up to 100 feet
- 5-year battery life
- Not as versatile as others
Best Easy-To-Use Stopwatch
7. Learning Resources Simple Stopwatch
Everyone needs to start somewhere. If you’re looking for a stopwatch to start your child off with, this is the perfect choice!
Honestly, it’s extremely basic. You’ll notice the difference just looking at the screen – there’s only one number displayed. You won’t find more in-depth settings like lap splits or pacers on this watch. It’s designed for kids or simple, one-time timing.
But it does its intended job well. The color-coded buttons (like a traffic light) make it easy for kids to grasp the concept.
Once your child gets their hands on it, they’ll want to time everything from brushing their teeth to racing around the backyard! Be careful, though – it doesn’t switch off, so if they forget they’re timing something and let it run too long, you’ll end up with a dead battery.
For the price and the function, it’s a worthwhile buy. Start showing your kids running tips and tricks early!
- Great, simple design for kids
- Very easy to use and doesn’t need much explaining
- Colored button design is innovative and good for children
- Useful for adults too, if you want something basic
- No way to turn it off
- Timer resets automatically at 99 minutes
Best Mechanical Stopwatch
8. Top Tool Mechanical Stopwatch
If you’re going to shun all the readily available GPS technology in favor of a simple stop watch, then why bother with half-measures? Ditch digital altogether and go full-on retro with a mechanical stopwatch. This classic old-school design is unique in today’s digital world. If you’ve been running for a long time, it may stir up some nostalgia in you!
The good news is that for runners who simply want a basic tool to time themselves, this would be ideal. Mechanical is still efficient!
It features a stainless steel spring for extreme durability. All the components are metal, so it’s sturdy. Dropping it may result in a couple of scratches, but overall it should hold up to bumps fairly well.
With a second-hand and minute-hand scale, it’s easy to get an idea of your time at a quick glance.
This stopwatch is ideal for runners living in cold climates. Its one-button design makes it easy to operate with gloved hands, there’s no chance of digital displays or hardware seizing up, and it’s designed to withstand temperatures from 14 to 104 degrees.
Even if you know a modern runner, an old-school stopwatch would make a great gift.
- Old-school stopwatch design
- Operates in below-freezing weather and high heat
- One button for convenience
- Separate second-hand and minute-hand scales
- Not as versatile as digital options
- Pricey in comparison to digital options
Best Interval Timer Stopwatch
9. Gymboss Interval Timer
The Gymboss is on this list of best stopwatches, but it’s more like an interval timer that just happens to have a stopwatch feature.
If intervals are your thing, this little tool could be something useful for you. Simply set interval alerts and total workout or run times and off you go. The interval notification can be set to vibrate, which would work well if you’re in a group setting or listen to music while you train. Just clip it to your shirt or belt.
If you prefer loud, you can set it to beep instead. It’s loud enough to be heard by a group provided there’s not deafening background noise, so it would work for group training too.
It even comes with brief instructions on the actual stopwatch, so if you need a quick reminder, just turn it over!
- Comes with a convenient belt clip
- Can be used for a multitude of sports
- Choose from vibrate or chime interval notification
- Impact-resistant, so it’s pretty hardy
- Battery not included
Easiest To Read Stopwatch
10. Marathon Adanac Digital Glow Stopwatch Timer
The screen on the Marathon features large numbers that can be seen clearly from a short distance. There’s no unnecessary or additional information on the display, which adds to the readability.
You can read it easily in dim light too. A backlight is always a welcome feature on a stopwatch. When the button is pressed, the light brightens for about 2 seconds. If that’s not enough, press and hold for an extended light.
The clean display may make this look like just a simple stopwatch, but it has other useful functions too. Time splits easily, and you can switch to a split-timing display while the overall timing continues to run.
Easy to use, easy to read!
- Can track two people’s times simultaneously
- Resistant to water, shock, and dust
- 1 CR2032 battery included with purchase
- The backlight feature is helpful and not too bright
- Switching between functions can be confusing
- The simple display may not be adequate for runners who want more information at a glance
Top Metal Stopwatch
11. Rolilink Metal Stopwatch
This is a sleek and sexy stopwatch that stands out in a crowd. It combines the more classic look and feel of a stopwatch with a modern digital display, bringing you the best of both worlds.
The casing is made of stainless steel. It’s heavy-duty, and while you can expect a few nicks if you drop it, it’s not likely to break.
This metal stopwatch is versatile, too. Choose from six different modes depending on what you need it for: date & time, alarm, stopwatch, stopwatch “L,” timer, and pacer.
Another feature we found highly incredibly useful that some of the best stopwatches don’t have is the standby function. Although most batteries last for years, just this simple addition can add an extra year or two to the life of your battery.
- We like the eye-catching, polished design
- Six different modes of use
- Stainless steel construction is durable
- Has a standby mode for battery saving
- 30 lap memory may be too small for some
Wondering why a stopwatch is important or exactly how it works? Here are some of the common stopwatch-related questions you may be wondering about.
How Does a Stopwatch Work?
A stopwatch is a small, handheld device that records time that has elapsed. Of course, you can time yourself on a normal running watch, but it’s quite a bit harder and involves you having to recall the initial time in the first place and minus the second time from the first.
A stopwatch begins from zero and builds from there. It’s much easier for timing purposes than a wristwatch – no mathematics involved!
You’ll usually find a large screen display on the front, and three buttons on the top of the device. The button on the right is the start/stop button (yes, they seem to be more geared for right-handers). The middle button allows you to set which mode you want to use. The left hand button serves the purpose of measuring lap splits and cumulative splits. It also resets the time.
You may have seen an old-school stopwatch, which is the mechanical version of the latest devices. While these are hardy and do exactly what they’re made for, a digital version can give you more timing options and be a little easier to read if you aren’t already used to a mechanical one.
What Does Split Time Mean in Running?
Split time is very much what it sounds like. You split your race into smaller sections that make sense to measure by – usually either miles or laps of a track. If you’re running a 5-miler, your time at every mile marker is known as your “mile split.”
Splits are a great way to evaluate your performance throughout a race. You can see if your miles are getting slower as you go, or if you’re keeping a constant pace. Knowing your pace is essential if you’re training for a specific goal time.
If you run a pretty consistent 10-minute mile, you can expect to do a 5-miler in 50 minutes. If your goal is to hit the finish line at 45 minutes, you’ll need to reduce your split time to 9 minutes.
In this way, you can calculate how fast you should be running in accordance with your goals, and train towards that.
Why Do I Need a Stopwatch With a Lap Memory?
The best stopwatches to train with have a lap memory. This means they retain the information of your previous laps, so you can view and record them afterwards. Some store up to 10 entries, while others can hold a staggering 2,000 lap times.
Choosing a watch with this function is crucial if you’re going to be using your split times to inform your training routine. Tracking your times not only allows you to practice good pacing, but you’ll be able to see progress as you improve and compare your latest run to your old numbers.