Running is one of the least expensive ways to get in shape—all you need to start is a pair of sneakers! But like any sport, the costs go up as you become more involved. One of the most coveted devices for an avid runner is a GPS training device that can measure distance, speed and calories burned, but they can also come in at a hefty price tag. With the wide range of devices available it’s hard to know how to get the best deal or if you are paying for more than you really need. Here’s a breakdown of options to help you make your decision:

Garmin Forerunner

Retail Cost: $130–400

This is one sport watch that does it all. Depending on the model, it can give you data about every facet of your workout whether you are running, swimming or biking. Some reviewers have complained that the size of these watches can be too large for a woman's wrist.

Nike Plus

Retail Cost: $149–169

With fewer options than the Garmin Forerunner, the Nike Plus Sport Watch is a great option for runners who may not need multisport functionality. It is known for its sleek look and reliability, but at a higher price than an entry-level Garmin, it might be worth compromising on appearance. As with the Garmin Forerunner, many reviewers complained that the size of these watches was too big for many women's wrist size.

Fitness Bracelets

Retail Cost: $99–149

After looking at the bulkiness of traditional GPS sport watches, the sleekly designed fitness bracelets like Fitbit Flexband, Jawbone Up and Nike Fuelband seem like an attractive alternative—but do they measure up? These devices are really more like advanced pedometers than true GPS data engines. They can track general movement, but not the intensity of the activity. One big perk of the Fitbit Flexband is that it tracks sleep habits as well as activity. In the end, fitness bracelets are great for giving you a general awareness of your activity levels throughout the day, but they are unreliable if you are trying to track calories or distances.

MapMyRun

Cost: $0

Unless you are a competitive runner you may not really need a high-end GPS sport watch. If an approximate distance and average speed is enough for your needs, you may only need to download a free app. I am an avid user of MapMyRun, which tracks routes, pace and average speed. Workouts are saved and can be reviewed online and shared with other runners. The app can be used simultaneously while streaming music and gives you progress updates as you run.

How to save on GPS devices

  • If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, consider buying the entry model. At $130 for a Garmin it is no small investment, but it still has many of the options the higher-priced model has. You may even find that a midrange brand like New Balance has everything you really need, which can net you huge savings since they start out at around $80.
  • If the entry model is still too expensive, but you have your heart set on a particular high-end brand, try getting a refurbished device. Refurbished Garmins sell as low a $100 on Walmart.com.
  • If you are looking to come in even cheaper, look on eBay for a used device. Just make sure that you buy from a highly-rated seller.
  • If you can put the purchase off, try waiting until Cyber Monday when select Garmin models have been known to come in at 50 percent off.

This is a guest post by April from Grand Blanc, MI
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

Affordable GPS Devices for Runners