If you are looking to treat your favourite runner (or yourself!) to a GPS running watch this Christmas, but are struggling to choose the right one, let us guide you! With lots of models out there, offering a variety of different features, choosing the right watch can be tricky. As a self-professed Garmin geek, I am here to guide you through the different Garmin GPS running watches available at Run4It and explain what each one does, so you can determine the best one for your runner.
For Fuss-Free Tracking:
Simple and easy-to-use, the Forerunner 35 is a great first time GPS watch and will help runners maximise their motivation. The Forerunner 35 provides the absolute essentials that every runner needs; pace, distance, time and calories burned. It also has heart rate thanks to the Elevate wrist-based heart rate that measures your pulse at the wrist. The Forerunner 35 boasts all-day activity tracking and records your steps, calories burned, HR and sleep, delivering continuous readings 24/7. The watch will last 13 hours in GPS mode and also has a built in bike and walk function. What’s more is that you can program intervals into the watch for more specific training sessions. All of your activities can be uploaded to Garmin Connect via your phone by Bluetooth and when connected to a smartphone, notifications such as calls, texts and emails will be shown on the screen too.
Save £50 on the FR35. Now £119.99.
For Performance and PB’s:
Offering more advanced fitness metrics such as VO2 max, recovery analysis and race time predictions, these models will help runners understand more about their fitness and performance. This is great for those goal-orientated runners looking to target personal bests and it will help give them an edge when it comes to training and racing.
The Forerunner 235 is packed with features to help runners improve their time in their next race. It will measure your VO2 max through the optical heart rate monitor, feeding back detailed information on your fitness level. Runners can use the VO2 max estimate, together with the recovery advisor and race predictor data to predict race times and work out what pace to train at, to meet targets. To make things easier, training plans can be downloaded from Garmin Connect straight your watch, so all training sessions are there, ready to go. On a full charge the Forerunner 235 will track your run for an impressive 11hrs.
Before heading out, you can setup pace or HR alerts so you run to a set speed or intensity. Runners can also customise their intervals by distance or time so no buttons need pressed on the fly. In addition, the watch can be synced with more apps and widgets through Garmin Connect IQ. The screen can even be changed so that it doesn’t look like a running watch! The Forerunner 235 also comes with full smartphone connectivity and phone notifications will display on your watch screen.
Save £70 on the FR235. Now £179.99.
The Forerunner 645 watches are packed with additional performance functionality and features and boast an impressive 14hr battery life in GPS mode. With ‘Strava Live Segments’ runners can race other people’s records in real time or monitor their progress on a regular running route to track progression (Strava premium account required). You can also compete against your previous best times with Virtual Partner and race an activity. Any dedicated runner will benefit from the extra incentive to push the pace when it matters most. The Forerunner 645 watches offer detailed running dynamics like ground contact time balance, vertical ratio, stride length and running power when paired with a Running Dynamics Pod (sold separately). It also comes with 24/7 Elevate wrist-based heart rate. Runners can use a Garmin HRM chest strap (sold separately) to get more advanced metrics such as lactate threshold and their heart rate variability.
The music version – the Forerunner 645 Music – has all the same features with the added ability to store music. Download up to 500 songs to your watch, and connect with Bluetooth headphones (try Aftershokz) for phone-free listening. In GPS and music mode runners can get 5hrs of their favourite songs as well as all of the key running data. Check out our Aftershokz range for the perfect partner. The Forerunner 645 Music is the latest Garmin watch to get Spotify! If you have a Spotify premium account, you can now create playlists for offline listening and load them onto your watch, to enjoy Spotify music on the move without your smartphone. Simply head to the Connect IQ Store from the Garmin Connect app to download the dedicated Spotify app and login to your account.
For those out there who don’t just run, but do triathlons or other multi-sport events, there’s a couple of models that are much better suited to those demands.
Vivoactive 3/3 Music
The Vivoactive 3 is a great option for active types who are looking to track more than just their typical road run. The watch boasts more than 15 preloaded sports apps and can be used for cycling, swimming, strength training, golf and more! The 13 hour battery life in GPS mode (and 7 day battery life in smartwatch mode) gives you the freedom to venture out for longer and capture the distance, pace, location and intensity of all your outdoor activities. The barometer feature allows users to detect atmospheric pressure and determine their altitude – perfect for those seeking days out in the hills and mountains. Navigational features including total ascent, total descent and ‘back to start’ help users navigate back to the starting location of their activity.
The music version – the Vivoactive 3 Music – has all the same features with music storage for up to 500 songs.
This is a perfect Garmin watch for those training for triathlons. It will measure swimming (in a pool and open water), cycling and running metrics in detail. It even has a triathlon mode which will include your transitions and seamlessly shift from one mode to the next during a race, by simple hitting the lap button. It’s sleek and lightweight design means you’ll barely notice it on your wrist as well. That’s pretty impressive for a watch which offers 14 hours battery life in GPS mode and 24 hours in an Ultra Trac mode (GPS recording is reduced to give extended battery life). The watch will also pair with a power meter so watt output from a turbo trainer or power meter can be displayed on the watch in various formats. Heart rate is measured through the optical heart rate monitor but lactate threshold and heart rate variability can be displayed when using the HRM chest strap.
Save £80 on the FR735XT HRM. Now £269.99.
For Any Adventure:
The Fenix models are the most premium and high spec watches that Garmin offer. The design oozes style and sophistication while packing industry leading technology. The battery life in the Fenix range will see most runners through any adventure. They provide 24 hours of battery life in GPS mode and 60 hours in an Ultra Trac mode (GPS recording is reduced to give extended battery life). The Fenix range offers more advanced analysis features than the likes of the Forerunner 235 and Forerunner 735 XT HRM. Training Status (a measure of your training state from ‘Peaking’ to ‘Overreaching’) and Training Load (a measure of the total volume of your training for the last 7 days) helps runners and athletes training hard on consecutive days/weeks, better understand when to hold back and take extra rest and recovery. Advanced navigational features allows runners to find their way in the most remote locations. Runners can follow courses, tracks and routes, and make use of the ‘back to start’ and ‘where am I’ functions if they get into difficulties in unknown areas. The watch is equipped with a compass as well. The Fenix 5S is smaller in size and more compact for people with a smaller wrist or those who want a more understated look. Fenix watches come pre-loaded with additional sport functions and will measure swimming and cycling like the Forerunner 735 XT HRM.
Save £60 on the Fenix 5/5S. Now £419.99.
For those unfamiliar with Garmin Connect – it’s a free online tool created specifically for Garmin devices and comes in two forms: a web service and a smartphone app. Each enables you to unlock a whole range of extra tools that can help you become a better runner. You can upload and view your activities, download training plans and connect and share your activities with other users, friends, and family. It’s also the place to update and upgrade the software on your device.
There you have it! Hopefully this has helped you determine the best Garmin GPS watch for your loved one or for yourself! If you have further questions or would like a demo, please don’t hesitate to pop to your nearest store and ask one of the team. With every Garmin bought from Run4It we offer a 1 year guarantee where we can provide tech support as well as any dealer support services so you have complete peace of mind.