Polar vs FitBit Watches for Workouts
If you are wondering which watch will serve you best when running, the Polar Vs FitBit ventilation may be exactly what you need. FitBit is often the first workout watch that many choose because they are a good price with a lot of features, but how do they compare to a GPS running watch? Some […]

If you are wondering which watch will serve you best when running, the Polar Vs FitBit ventilation may be exactly what you need.

FitBit is often the first workout watch that many choose because they are a good price with a lot of features, but how do they compare to a GPS running watch?

Some key differences in Polar Vs FitBit:

  • Polar wants to improve your training in every way
  • FitBit wants to help you stay active in general, but may not focus on performance

If you're looking to buy your first GPS watch for running, check out my article on GPS watch mistakes you should not make, so you won't end up getting more than you need and spending more money than you need to.

This side-by-side comparison should help you better understand the different features and narrow down your choices.

Polar Vs Fitbit Feature Comparison

Even the most basic GPS watches today include the same features such as heart rate monitor, pace, distance, calorie tracking and lap function.

Where the two brands differ is in hardware, training tools, alerts, and additional data logging features.Polar Vs FitBit

View and Track - Winner Polar

Polar and Fitbit watches show customizable real-time data, such as pace, time, distance traveled, calories burned, and heart rate, and more if you want. But Polar is able to show you many other data such as average pace, number of strides, cadence and elevation gain.

The biggest difference between the two brands in this area comes in the personalization of the display. Polar's screens can be changed through the Polar Flow app, which also includes a ton of other add-ons.

  • For me, the screen customization is huge.
  • I need to easily see my HR, my current pace, etc.
  • Maybe all you really want to know right now is how far and how fast the Fitbit will show.

As for the watchmaker who reigns in tracking, the Polar is going to win based on the intense attention it has given to GPS for years. They also use several different satellites for increased accuracy.

It continues to improve and if you are going to be trailering or running around a lot of buildings (eg downtown Chicago) better GPS is really important for accuracy.

GPS Watch Battery Life - Winner Polar

While not many runners need a running watch to last 24 hours with all features turned on, you are more likely to have this happening with the Polar. The Fitbit Charge can work with you for up to 5 hours ... so if you push for it first Marathon of more than 5 hours it won't cut it.

In daily use mode, most Fitbits and Polar watches last about 7 days.

Mapping and navigation - Winner Polar

For those who are on new roads or tend to turn around during a race, the navigation features of Polar watches will keep you on track and get home safely.

Several Polar watches allow you to download a map, which will then guide you, whether on the trails or running in a new area.

Heart rate monitoring - Polar

Nowadays, most GPS watches come with optical heart rate monitors based on a bracelet or wrist. Optical heart rate monitors are known to provide inaccurate results due to recording of random movements.

However, I was led astray for the Polar Vantage V and V2 due to their improved heart rate. Both have more sensors than other watches, which eliminated random spikes in the readings and provided to be very precise during my many months of running with them.

I haven't seen enough data on Fitbit tech, but it's a mainstay of the product, so it should be decent. However, there is a big difference in tracking your HR while sitting or sleeping and running where we tend to see spikes when it can't read properly.

Data and Application Management - Tie

Polar uses a program called Polar Flow, and users seem to like the additional capabilities like the ability to create workouts (including full workouts with demos), create runs, and view aggregate training data.

The Fitbit app also allows you to set goals, track your progress during workouts, and generally look at your overall health.

If you are switching between brands, an app like Strava is probably the best place to keep all your data safe and secure in one place.

Watch Style - FitBit for Apple Lovers

I usually wouldn't include this as an option, but I think the two are different enough that it may very well matter.

Many Fitbit watches now look like an Apple Watch, which might make some more comfortable to wear 24/7.

GPS watches are often a bit larger and can indeed overwhelm a small wrist.

Polar VS Fitibt for running

Ok, we're wrapping up the Polar vs Fitbit comparison.

You'll quickly see that Fitbit prices are lower as soon as we break out of the budget category, possibly due to less needed technology in watches as they don't provide metrics like VO2 Max, cadence, stride, etc.

Click any link below to view the watch and additional feature details (and please note that I almost ALWAYS see Fitbit on sale, so don't buy a full price).

Running watches

Polar Unite ($ 150)

It's now what's considered an entry-level racing watch, and it has EVERYTHING including smartwatch features.

  • HR on the wrist, sleep tracking
  • GPS features
  • Security functions, smart phone notifications
  • VO2Max

This is great value for money when I think I paid more than that for my first Garmin which could only track distance traveled!

Fitbit charge ($ 145)

Only their second watch with built-in GPS, it has the same rectangular style that we are used to seeing with Fitbit watches. The small screen can make it harder to view your data while running, and the touchscreen can be tricky once you're sweaty.

This includes:

  • GPS
  • sleep tracking
  • Spotify controls (no storage)
  • Fitbit payment
  • water resistant for swimming

Mid-range racing watches

Polar Vantage M ($ 290)

For about $ 100 more you can get the Polar Vantage M… but I'll say hang on and go for the Vantage V! There are definitely more bells and whistles, but I'm telling you the V is worth it if you upgrade.

This watch will track running, swimming and cycling and tell you your ground contact time, stride length, etc.

  • HR monitoring
  • GPS
  • Longer battery life
  • Multisport, waterproof for swimming
  • Track load, altitude, climb and descent
  • Smart phone notifications

Fitbit Versa 3 ($ 229)

Although this model is an upgrade if you like tools like Alexa and weather apps and storing up to 200 songs, and unlike previous models it now has GPS built in !!!

This one can be a big winner for many in terms of features and price.

FitBit Versa for runners

You can log in through the app on your phone to get the data which for a running watch I find a major drawback. While I know many runners carry a phone, it might be worth it for the price savings.

  • HR monitoring
  • Alexa integrated
  • Sleep tracking
  • Smart phone notifications

It also has intelligent exercise recognition, so it will start to track as you run or cycle.

High-end racing watches

Polar Vantage V2 ($ 499)

As stated above, this is the watch that I personally use on a daily basis and love with all my heart. I used to love the Vantage V, but it has been improved with readily available displays and data.HR based on the fleece wrist

  • Wrist heart rate monitor - the most accurate I have tested in a long time
  • Training load, HRV, sleep tracking
  • Smartphone notifications, weather and music on the watch
  • GPS, power meter, refueling reminders, route guidance

Basically we are now looking at the high end.

Iconic Fitbit ($ 200)

Even at their high end, Fitbit is still in line with the budget version of most GPS watches and why so many people are probably a little nervous about upgrading.

We're back to built-in GPS, stylish colorful screen, music storage, heart rate tracking, and sleep data.

This is definitely considered their watch for the person wanting to track more fitness data. And you have the option to change bands, pay for guided workouts, and add other apps.

Okay, we've done a comparison of Polar watches so you can see what makes the different prices, but how do they compare to other brands?

Looking for more reviews to find the best things for you to run?

Check out our full page of my must have a running gear reviews and guides to save you time and money! I'm sharing what worked for me and my fellow runners, as well as what wasn't worth the price.

Some common requests:

Other watches you want to know? Let me know!

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Most people think of course as a solo venture. And while runners appreciate ( read : need ) quality “me time, ” there’s something quite powerful about running in a pack.

“Most of the time people join groups for the social experience, but the cool thing about a running group is that you can be a part of it without saying a word, ” says Scott Miller, founder of the Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club. “It’s a great opportunity to connect. ”

Here, Miller plus five other running club founders, share tips for building—and sustaining—your own course club.

Jessamy Little, who founded the Cass Runners Club, a 100-plus person course group in London comprised of her business school classmates, suggests asking potential members what days, times, and locations work best with their schedules. Some groups may favor an early morning sweat sesh, while others may prefer meeting after work. “A recommendation for a newer club is to have two set course days, ” Little says. “One during the week that is more focused on ‘getting it done’ and one on weekends that can have a more ‘fun and footloose’ vibe. ” For Little’s group, the weekend runs were geared toward exploring new areas of the city.

“Don’t get discouraged if not a lot of people show up at first, ” says Marnie Kunz, founder of Runstreet, an NYC-based company that leads art runs—urban runs that pass by street art in cities across the U. S. When Kunz held her first art run in 2015, just one person came : a guy on a bike. Kunz was disappointed, embarrassed, and considered canceling the whole thing. But the next week a few more people showed up, and then a few more. Soon, word got out. Runstreet has since hosted more than 200 runs in cities around the country “Realizing that everyone starts from scratch really helps, ” Kunz says.

Kunz stresses the importance of having your own website that houses all information about your runs along with photos. “Social media platforms can change—and not everyone is on every platform—so it helps to have everything in one place. ” Keep your communication consistent across platforms to help create a streamlined brand.

Let people know what they are getting themselves into, Miller says. His Boulder, Colorado-based group of 100-plus members meets every Saturday for a long trail run ( anywhere between two to six hours ) followed by a group breakfast. Because the group’s runs cover a wide range of terrain, he wrote several articles explaining the general genres of conditions runners can expect and the group’s approximate pace along with safety tips.

The articles are published on the group’s MeetUp page, and when a new person signs up, Miller sends them the reading material. “If your group is not a beginner group, you need to make that clear, ” Miller says. “You don’t want people to show up and have a bad time. I try to be really descriptive about the time, en ligne, and elevation of our runs so people know what they are in for. ”

Many members of Miller’s group take photos during the runs and post them to the group’s page. He says it helps draw new members. “When people are looking for a course group and they see pictures of runs in amazing areas, people smiling—both men and women—they see that it’s a mixed group that likes to be social and have fun. ”

Frankie Ruiz, cofounder of the Miami Marathon and founder of the Baptist Health South Florida Brickell Run Club, a free, once-a-week, Miami-based group of about 400 runners, can count on one hand the number of times he’s cancelled runs throughout the program’s nine-year tenure.

“Our main message is that we don’t cancel, ” he says. “If it’s really rough out, we’ll go to a parking garage or go indoors and do a core session. ” He says this has helped build the club’s reputation as a consistent amenity offered by the city. “Even if a runner doesn’t show up, I think there’s a comfort knowing that there is something in your city that doesn’t stop. ”

“If you have new people coming in, you can’t assume that they know the rules and guidelines, ” Ruiz says. “Communication needs to be all the time. ” Even though the group’s “weather-proof policy” may be well understood among current members, every time the skies get gloomy, the club blasts their social channels with reminders that the runs are still on. It also helps to communicate the planned route, distance, and pace in advance so that new members can plan their fioul and attire accordingly.


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