Running on a Budget: How to Find the Best Watch for Less

When you’re trying to find the best running watch possible on a budget, it can be depressing to look at the prices of running watches!

Some of the running watches now are tricked-out with awesome features…some you don’t even need to take your phone with you anymore!

However, some of them are getting to the point where they’re cost-prohibitive. A quick search of “best running watches” will land you finding that the running watches with all the cool features are in the range of $400-600+!!


Running on a Budget: How to Find the Best Running Watch

This is actually the reason I stuck with my Fitbit Charge 2 for so long (and I still wear it daily when I’m not running). It was relatively inexpensive, and it worked for what I needed when combined with a free running GPS app on my phone such as MapMyRun.

Until I decided that I wanted to be able to see my running cadence as well. I knew that I didn’t need to go full-on fancy mode and I definitely didn’t want to spend $400+. So I searched and searched to find a watch that would provide all the running stats I wanted without breaking the bank.

After much research, I landed on the Garmin Forerunner 35.

I must say, after I got it…I am very pleased with all of its additional features!

[convertkit form=878335]

What I Love about the Garmin Forerunner 35

This thing has made half marathon training a dream!

Basic Features to Love in a Budget Running Watch

First, it tracks all of the running stats I need. I absolutely LOVE that it provides me with a continually updating “current pace,” so I can get a feel of what it’s like to run at a certain pace rather than trying to hold a specific effort level for at least a half mile for MapMyRun to tell me what my split pace was.

Second, the reason that I actually bought this watch was because I wanted something that would track my running cadence, and the Garmin Forerunner 35 does!

Garmin Forerunner 35 Best Budget Running Watch Features

This has helped me increase my stride rate and ultimately, helps me run faster.

Next, I love that the screen is always on. One of the most frustrating things about my Fitbit was having to turn my wrist to see what the stopwatch was at, and the screen didn’t always come on at a critical point (such as track intervals). It’s easy for me to glance at my Garmin and check my pace or the time.

Garmin Forerunner 35 Running Watch Features

Bonus Features That Make This Budget Running Watch Amazing!

Speaking of intervals…this thing has a crazy awesome intervals feature! You can set it for time, distance, or free. Setting it for time or distance is great for when you want to do an interval workout on the open road or trail, without specific distance markers to go by. You set the intervals you want to do, and your watch will tell you when it’s time to switch.

I like to use the free/open interval feature when I’m doing a track workout or repeats on the same hill, because the exact distance doesn’t always line up. All I have to do is press the button when I’m ready to transition to the next interval and when I finish each interval. It even lets me continue my run after the interval session is complete by hitting “resume” so I can track the cool down portion of my run after I’m done with the gruesome hill repeats and ready to head in.

I seriously love so many things about this watch, but the last one I want to mention is the fact that it shows text alerts on the watch screen. This makes it easy to check incoming text messages on my run and determine if they’re important enough for me to pull my phone out of my armband and text back, or if it can wait until after my run.

Garmin Forerunner 35 Running Watch

Garmin Forerunner 35 Stats

These watch stats are straight from Garmin’s website!

General Running Watch Stats

  • Chemically strengthened glass lens
  • Silicone wristband
  • Physical size: 35.5 x 40.7 x 13.3 mm
  • Display size: 0.93” x 0.93”
  • Resolution: 128 x 128 pixels
  • Display type: Sunlight visible, transflective memory-in-pixel
  • Weight: 37.3 grams
  • Battery Life: Up to 9 days in Smartwatch mode or Up to 13 hours in GPS mode
  • 5 ATM water rating

Clock Features

  • Time/date
  • GPS Time Sync
  • Automatic daylight savings time
  • Alarm clock
  • Stopwatch


  • GPS
  • Garmin Elevate wrist heart rate monitor
  • Accelerometer

Daily Smart Features

  • Smart notifications
  • Connectivity
  • Weather
  • Controls smartphone music for Android devices
  • Find my Phone
  • Compatible with both Android and iPhone devices
  • Compatible with Garmin Connect Mobile
  • LiveTrack Safety Tracking

Training, Planning, and Analysis Features

  • GPS Speed and Distance
  • Auto Pause
  • Interval Training
  • Auto Lap
  • Manual Lap
  • V02 Max
  • Audio Prompts
  • Activity History on Watch
  • Heart rate zones, alerts, and broadcast

Running, Cycling, and Swimming Features

  • Available run and cycling profiles,
  • GPS-based distance, time and pace
  • Running cadence
  • Foot pod compatible
  • Time/distance alerts for cycling goal
  • Speed and cadence cycling sensor support
  • Basic rest timer for swimming
How to Find the Best Running Watch for the Lowest Price

How to Find a Running Watch that Fits Your Budget

It’s easy to go a little crazy with fancy running watches that feature all the extras like music download/headphone connection, text messaging, and extra applications.

However, when you’re trying to find a running watch that fits your needs AND your budget, you really need to consider what features you NEED, and watch features are extra. For me, the Garmin Forerunner 35 has all the features I need for successful run tracking.

I did the research before buying mine and the fact is: the other more expensive watches really don’t have THAT many amazing (and necessary) features that are worth me paying $100-300 more for.

For a reasonable price, you can get everything you need in a running watch with the Garmin Forerunner 35.

How do you make your running habit budget-friendly?  


Run Happy,


About Me: I’m Alexis, Founder of RunningMyBestLife! I am an avid recreational runner, half marathoner, wife, dog mom, busy professional, downhill skier in Northern Utah. My mission is to help new enthusiasts fall in love with the sport of running. I believe that running is a catalyst to taking control of your life and living your best life by design. Learn More –>

1 thought on “Running on a Budget: How to Find the Best Watch for Less”

  1. I used the F35 for six months and loved it. The only reason that I moved on to the F235 was that I did a training program this summer that had more complicated workouts at specific paces which you can’t set up on the F35. But don’t think that the F35 went to waste, I gave it to my husband and he loves it as much as I did. The F235 has the training features that I need right now, but there are certain things about the F35 that are laid out better and work smoother. And seriously, you cannot beat the price.

    For anyone on a budget, don’t be shy about getting used or refurbished Garmins. My first ever Garmin was used and super cheap, and I got a lot of use out of it in 6 years and am keeping it as a backup. My F235 is a refurb, and it looks and works like a brand new watch.

Comments are closed.