The good news is the latest running watches and smartwatches are coming equipped with on-board storage and even music streaming access, so you can leave your smartphone behind and run untethered.
Essential reading: Best heart rate monitors and watches
Thanks to Rocky Balboa we all know that workouts are easier when we're pumped up by our favourite power song playlists. Science has even gone and proved the positive effect a few killer tunes can have when you're trying to kick your own ass on the pavements, in the gym or even doing laps down the pool.
While dedicated sports watches still offer the best way to train, GPS equipped smartwatches are quickly catching up. What's more, while the entire selection below (bar the Apple Watch) is limited to MP3 playback, smartwatches will be the devices best placed to support the likes of Spotify and Deezer.
GPS running watches with music playback
The TomTom Spark boasts all the normal running metrics (distance, speed, time), has a built-in optical heart rate monitor which aced our tests, plugs into nearly every running app. However, it's listed here for its 3GB of storage and ability to play MP3s to a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones. You'll need to sync it with your PC or Mac to drag and drop songs onto it, with a Ministry of Sound Running Trax playlist already on board out of the box.
Check out our full TomTom Spark review.
Adidas miCoach Smart Run
The miCoach Smart Run might be a due an update now, but if you want a built-in MP3 player, then this is still one of the best options. You can load up to 4GB from your iTunes and MP3 music by dragging them into a folder on your computer and syncing via USB. You can then use the Smart Run's Bluetooth 4.0 work to pair Bluetooth headphones giving you control of your running playlist from your wrist. There was talk of adding offline Spotify playlist support, but sadly that's still not happened.
Timex Ironman One GPS+
A ruggedised durable watch built to withstand the toughest fitness regime, the Ironman One GPS+ is only available in the US currently, but Timex's smartwatch is an exciting prospect for one main reason. It's super-smart multi-sport watch and you can run, bike and listen to tunes without having your smartphone strapped to your arm.
Essential reading: The best GPS running watches
If you like your tunes local then there's also 4GB of music storage for music that you can unleash by hooking the One GPS+ up to a Bluetooth headset.
Smartwatches with fitness & music
While running watches have long been the only choice for serious athletes, the smartwatch is fast catching up. The benefit is that smartwatches have the full power of apps at their disposal, while dedicated running trackers are one-trick ponies, albeit, with superior tracking chops.
Choosing a smartwatch currently means losing the in-depth stats such as cadence tracking, vertical oscillation monitoring and other pro-running feedback, but means you can get big beats straight to your headphones.
Moto 360 Sport
The Moto 360 Sport has lagged behind the second generation smartwatch, but it's finally landed and we've had a good play with it. Only the second Android Wear smartwatch to feature GPS inside, the Moto 360 Sport plays nicely with your favourite running apps and can also play music from its built-in 4GB of storage.
Read our full Moto 360 Sport review.
Sony SmartWatch 3
Sony's smartwatch may have wilted in the the round-face of the Moto 360 and LG G Watch R, but it packs powerful running and sports features that can give most entry-level running watches a run for their money. Firstly, it has built-in GPS so it will track runs accurately when you leave your phone at home. What's more, it has 4GB of internal storage and Android Wear has been updated to enable playback via Bluetooth headphones.
Check out our indepth Sony SmartWatch 3 review
The Apple Watch Sport collection has a distinct health and fitness flavour. Not only does it come with strengthened Ion-X glass, there are also five different matching elastomer colour bands to give it an active twist.
Smartwatch showdown: Android Wear v Apple Watch
Built in sensors track movement, heart rate and activity and fire data into Apple's Health app on the iPhone and iPad for post-workout analysis. You'll also be able to use familiar running apps like Nike+ Running and Endomondo to track your training and put a beat to your blood, sweat and tears, using one of two playback options.
Keep on running
- Essential heart rate zone training guideHow to use your heart rate monitor or running watch to supercharge your training
- How to use your running watch for interval trainingGetting the most from your GPS wearable for high intensity interval training
- Best Bluetooth headphones for runningRun with freedom by connecting your smartwatch to a pair of these
You can play music by transferring playlists from your phone to the watch and pairing a set of Bluetooth headphones. However, if you're an Apple Music subscriber you can transfer playlists from the service, putting even more tracks at your fingertips.
Have a read of our full Apple Watch review.