A watch. A GPS whatsitt. An activity tracker. A gizmo-gadget piece of gear. Not essential for running in any way. Certainly popular these days. I’m ashamed to admit that I have two different watches.The Garmin Forerunner 235 was my first and is my staple watch though.
I decided to buy a GPS watch after running my third Marathon – The Bagan Temple Marathon – I used my trusty Casio W59-1V, as I always had. Just a stopwatch recording, that’s all I needed. I’d do the math in my head. Register the KM markers and not my time. All well and good. Until, post race, I realised I’d been misunderstanding the length of a marathon all along, turns out its not 44km. Sod this, I’m getting a watch to track it for me. Some research later and the Forerunner 235 was ordered.
I love how it looks and, for a multi-sport GPS activity tracker peace of magic, it is far from bulky. So much that I’ve ended up using and wearing it as an everyday watch. I’m lost without it. I went for the all black, as I always do. It looks good. You can even connect to apps and customise the watch face to suit your needs.
I’m not going to go into details of what it does and what it doesn’t do. I generally have no idea! It does so much that I’m sure I’m only using a fraction of its functions. I restrict my use to, telling the time, recording a run/cycle, occasionally using the ‘lap’ feature and some alarms to wake me up in the morning. What a waste – it does so much more. But there lies one of my key issue with all tech, it requires time and dedication to familiarise yourself with it and make the most out of it.
What does scream out to me though is the ease of use. It takes no time at all to set-up and configure to your needs (setting what you do/don’t want to see on screens etc.), connects to GPS quickly and records pretty accurately as far as I can tell. As a Business Analyst, usability is always on my mind and the Garmin is so simplistic. Easy to navigate menus and options, clear instructions and settings, single button ‘clicks’ to activate modes etc. Any one can use this easily. The Garmin Connect app is also incredibly intuitive and simple to use.
Most of my runs are probably under an hour in length, but I have used it to record several ultras. The first two Ultras I ran were longer than the battery life (which on the second one I pushed to the limit and stopped the activity after 11 hours of recording. It was on 1%). It isn’t a specific ultra-running watch designed for ever-lasting battery performance though, so not a bad thing.
I have been told you can charge it whilst being used, I’ve never been able to achieve this to confirm. I wouldn’t be able to say whether it is the watch or the battery pack that was the cause of the non-charge though.
I do love this watch, and my criticisms are also unfair and probably more a reflection of me than the technology, but a downside of having such a device is the amount of data and insight you gain. I need more time in the day to be able to spend analysing all this data. With the built in Hear rate monitor I could learn about running to HR, it monitors my sleep (fuck knows how!), its built up a history of my performance and predictions of what might come. I generally don’;t know where to begin in absorbing and processing all of this information! I’ll just stick to running and checking my pace instead…
What I like
- Slim, easily passes as a casual day to day watch
- Easy to use. So so easy to use
- Great App that is also so simple
- Seems accurate and performs well for my needs
- includes a built in HRM, no need for an extra heart strap
What I didn’t like
- It has so many features and I don’t use it as I probably should
- I don’t know what to do with all the data I receive as a result of using it.
I’ve been using this watch religiously now for 18 months and it’s never let me down, I’ve never had an issue with it. It’s the best watch I’ve tried (even better than the five pound Casio!) and my go to for running and cycling. A bit expensive but always available on some special deal and discount somewhere. Nice inclusion of the heart rate monitor without the need for a separate device. Great to start getting insights on you activities. If you are looking for something more hardcore (longer battery life, navigation etc.) then you’ll need an upgrade to something more designed for that purpose.