Simple GPS Training Watches

I am a self-proclaimed (moderate) Luddite, trying to live a minimal life. Technology is cool and yes it's handy, but I frequently find myself wondering if it's all really necessary. Often times the answer is no. Amidst my half training I started running with my phone (much to my own disgust and horror, it's been helpful) but how much marginal utility will I really be able to obtain from a fancy GPS watch compared to my current Timex Ironman watch? It has a timer and chrono with the ability to save more splits than I will ever need. This is the watch (smaller watch pictured below) that I used to run the half marathon race, marking each km with a split. It's handy when the route is already set out or you already know the distance you'll be running.

Beginning to run with my phone was a big step for me because I'm usually so annoyed with having to carry extra things. Using the Strava app on my phone helps me understand my pace after the fact, but not during my run because it's not exactly easy access into my spandex fanny pack. I just want to be free, you know? But at the same time, I want to obtain a good understanding of the pace that I run at naturally as well as what running with "effort" translates to in terms of pace so that I can work towards running through feel.

Let me just first say that the budget friendly GPS watches are pretty freaking ugly. I will never wear this watch when I'm not running or biking. Regular watches are also so much smaller than GPS watches. Here is a side by side comparison - not only is the face and band bigger, but the watch itself is much more thiccc:
My search began with a quick Google of GPS watches. Some really intense ones came up, like $500+ watches. Despite how pretty they are and how they have all the bells and whistles, that's way too fancy for me. As a leisure runner/biker, I really can't justify that amount of spending for a watch. I budgeted $200 max for a watch. All that I require is a chronograph, pace, distance, and GPS functionality so I can connect it to my computer and for it to spit out my route and stats afterwards. Ideally it would be great to have instantaneous pace, but that's not a necessity.

Here are the "affordable" options I considered:

Garmin Forerunner 15

- Waterproof
- Virtual pacer capability (program a pace and the watch tells you if you're going too fast or slow)
- Garmin Connect software is easy to use and reliable

- Kind of ugly
- Up to 8 hour battery life (lowest of the three)

Timex Ironman GPS

- Waterproof
- Simple design
- Up to 12 hour battery life

- Priciest of them all
- Newest watch, and apparently buggy on the software side

Tomtom Runner

- Waterproof
- Big display screen
- Up to 10 hour battery life

- Apparently doesn't keep its charge after a few months of use

A lot of time was spent in search for a GPS watch, and debating with myself whether or not it was worth it. Realizing quickly that a gently used GPS watch was probably just as good as new, I took to Kijiji. I ended up buying the Garmin Forerunner 110 off Kijiji for $65. Garmin discontinued this model, but it's more or less what I wanted - a simple, albeit bulky, watch that holds it charge for up to 8 hours. It can also be connected to a heart rate monitor and hooks up to Garmin Connect and Strava. I've been pretty pleased with it thus far - the only issue is that it shows the average pace per km, not the instantaneous pace which would be more ideal. It also isn't waterproof. But alas, savings were real for more or less the same product.

The verdict here is if you're in the market for a GPS watch, look to Kijiji because you'll likely find something pretty good for a decent price, and it's a niche enough product that you can probably trust the seller to not rip you off. Of course make sure you check that it works before buying it off them (i.e. ask them to charge it so when you pick it up you can see that it works).

Overall I'm pleased with my purchase and have been using it regularly to track my runs and bike rides. Feels a lot lighter to not run with my phone!