Garmin Forerunner at Amazon Introduction Being a flagship in the Forerunner series by Garmin, the Forerunner has proven that fitness technology can be wrapped in small package but without sacrificing functionality and sophisticated features such as built-in accelerometer, VO2 max estimation, virtual pacer, vertical oscillation, virtual partner, training effect, touchscreen, and recovery advisor. Carrying all those things, Forerunner delivers its purpose as a sport accessory with fitness computation.
Disappointingly, it doesn't pack a built-in optical heart rate monitor like the Forerunnerso you'll need to rely on the optional heart rate monitor chest strap to track your workout intensity. You certainly get a lot of features for your buck, but is it worth spending the extra?
We hit the roads to find out. Design and build If you've picked up or used one of the newer Forerunners recently, like the Forerunnerthen you'll quickly see the is built on the same design principles. Generally, sports watches have a habit of looking like they've been hit with an ugly stick but Garmin has actually built a sports watch I really didn't mind wearing all day.
Best heart rate monitors There's a nicely sized round watch face, which hosts a 1. Its screen tech is less impressive and one look at the x pixel resolution is enough to show it's a way off the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices. Colours are pretty dull, but it's fine for glancing at stats during the day with a backlight giving you a helping hand for those nighttime running sessions.
The matte plastic build and blue finish certainly give it that sporty look and feel suitably robust to withstand the rigours of a workout without making it too chunky. The plastic strap is comfortable enough to wear for all day tracking and doesn't feel too tight, with ventilated holes to stop things from getting too sweaty.
It's waterproof to 5ATM, which means you can take it swimming, technically to 50 metres. It's good enough for a session in the pool, although you'll have to make do without the dedicated swimming modes that you get on the Garmin Forerunner xt. There are four physical buttons in total, two either side of the display engraved with their dedicated features.
That's in addition to a small capacitive button below the screen, which allows you to scroll down through menus and notifications. The touchscreen might not be as slick or as responsive as an Apple Watch or an Android Wear smartwatch, but I had no major problems swiping through data screens or reading notifications during a run.
As mentioned, there's no optical heart rate sensor. What you will find are four charging pins where you'll need to clip in the clothes peg-like proprietary charger. I'd have definitely have preferred the wrist-based monitor option you get on the though.
Running features This is a running-focused sports watch, but it's also built for cycling if you go for the extra add-ons available. We'll update our thoughts on how it well it works for cyclists at a later date. For runners, I can tell you it's fantastic. It's one of the easiest watches to get up and running.
Hit the top right button, select your running mode there's indoor and outdoor tracking and race modes and you're good to go.
If you're running with the heart rate monitor chest strap, it pairs in seconds. It's a similar story with the GPS. The screen is split into three data fields all easily viewable with a second screen of data you can swipe across the screen to see.
During a run, a nice purposeful vibration will let you know when you've hit a mile or indicate some of the newer running metrics. Some are more useful than others, but if you're serious about your running, you're going to love the insights.
There's the standard pace, speed, timing, elevation and heart rate readings along with a training effect number. Then there's metrics like threshold measurements, which is essentially an estimated level of effort.
Go over your threshold and that's when fatigue can kick in. VO2 max, which requires the heart rate monitor to produce the readings, gives you an indication of athletic performance and is illustrated by different coloured zones.
Purple is excellent, red is poor. But they keep coming.
You can get predicted race times based on training, stress scores, a recovery advisor to tell you when it's the optimum time to go for another intense running session and a performance condition number based on pace and heart rate variability in real time.
With built-in Wi-Fi on board, sessions are quickly uploaded to Garmin Connect where you can see more running dynamics data on cadence, stride length, vertical ratio, vertical oscillation, average GC time balance and average ground contact time.
Basically, there's loads here and it puts most other running watches to shame. Having all that data is one thing, but obviously if it's not accurately captured, then it's pointless.
Thankfully, that's not the case here.
For GPS and heart rate tracking, it's one of the best we've used. There were no dropouts and picking up a signal was generally quicker than the TomTom watch. Against the TomTom's wrist-based heart rate monitor, which I've tested against the Polar H7 chest strap for accuracy, it was spot on again as the graphs show below.Garmin sent us the Forerunner bundle which includes the new HRM-RUN v2 heart-rate chest strap in the box.
This adds a few handy features (more on which shortly) to that of the original strap. Check your form by pairing your with the HRM-Run™ monitor to measure cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time¹.
Additional running dynamics include ground contact time balance, stride length and vertical ratio. Connected features³: automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™, live tracking, audio prompts, music controls, smart notifications and social media sharing; Check your form by pairing your with the HRM-Run™ monitor to measure cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time¹.
Additional running dynamics include ground contact time. I bought both the and the to see which I preferred, I initially wanted the heart rate monitor built in the watch and thought that would win me over on the , however I don't mind running with the heart rate strap at all, and I prefer the instant feedback you get with this model, the heart rate information on the was always 4/5().
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