I was never really a watch wearer until I got into running seriously (as seriously I can be anyway!).
Being a person that likes to see improvement, and is motivated by stats in training at times – I found that running with a watch gave me a plethora of statistics back on things such as my training time, splits (time per km/lap/mile), distance as well as lots of other things.
I’ve had my Garmin Forerunner 235 for 5 weeks now and I have to say I love it. My first running gadget was the Nike Plus years ago when they first came out, then I moved onto the Garmin 405cx, then onto the TomTom Cardio and I have done almost a full circle and come back to Garmin again.
I loved the TomTom but found I wanted more data and information on my runs so I decided to look back at the Garmin. I spent ages chatting to the guys at RunStopShop asking them about different products and what they would recommend for what I needed. I loved the look of the Fenix but at almost double the price of the Forerunner 235 – I think my husband would have had something to say! So it was between the Forerunner 235 and the 630 – and I settled on the 235 with built in heart rate monitor as I loved that about the TomTom I had previously been using.
So my RunStopShop package arrived and I immediately charged the watch and started playing around with it. Below are my opinions and experiences with the watch – I haven’t been paid for this review I am just trying to help others who might be on the market for a watch make their mind up!
Look and Feel
My first impressions of the watch when it arrived was the watch face seemed fairly big but I liked that it was circular rather than rectangular. I realise now in order to be able to see all the data as you are running you need to have a fairly reasonable size screen. The thing I really love about it is that it is really light. My first Garmin was so heavy it actually hurt my wrist after a while and I have very weak wrists – so this is a definite plus for me.
The overall design is nice, simple and subtle. You can get other colours such as a bright blue strap but I decided to go with a simple black so it blends in no matter what I am wearing. If you change your mind then you can buy replacement straps in a range of colours.
Ease of Use
I love the fact that the GPS so far works brilliantly and quickly, and also the fact that again with this watch as with my last one I don’t have to wear a heart rate monitor strap – it seems fairly accurate too which is always a good thing!
In order to run you literally press the top right button a couple of times and you are off, and to pause or end it is simple too. You can also lock the watch face but I have found I don’t need to – but with my previous Garmin I had all sorts of issues such as people knocking me in a race and stuffing up my timing – but this is all good.
To access settings too it is really straight forward and you can sync from Garmin Connect and download workouts and training. There are four simple training options to – Run Indoors, Run Outdoors, Bike Outdoors, and ‘Other’. I generally have only had to use the Run Outdoors at the moment so haven’t tested any of the others.
The watch also will give you VO2 Max stats after training as well as elevation, time, average pace and a whole host of other stats. During running you can easily flick between pages on the watch to get stats such as average per pace, current pace, time, heart rate.
There are lots of options for training including intervals, straight running, selecting by finish time. You can check your history, stats as well as set it up so you get bluetooth notifications on your run with calendar entries, emails and text messages.
I actually switched mine off as I don’t need to know I have an email when running a long run – but I know people that do!! However I do like the fact that the watch tells me the weather forecast – it has come in very handy when running or planning to run.
The watch also has an activity tracker which I was not too bothered about but again I know people that love those features. Whilst wearing the watch you can check how many steps you have done, how much sleep you have had if you want to wear the watch whilst sleeping, what your heart rate is (there is an option to switch it off as it does wear down the battery quicker if you use it with heart rate all the time).
With the activity tracker I went for a few runs with my son and realised that whilst running with a stroller the activity tracker doesn’t pic up those steps. Not a big deal when running with a GPS watch but it annoyed me as I wanted to see my steps reflected from my run – you’ll find this with all activity monitors so it isn’t just this watch.
The battery lasts for ages and there isn’t the need to constantly be charging it – days if you don’t have the heart rate monitor constantly going and about 11 hours if you have the heart rate monitor on which is pretty good.
Very happy with the battery life as my previous Garmin years ago in one of my marathons had almost worn out after 4 hours!
I find sometimes I get obsessive over how low I can get my resting heart rate – nerdy I know!
The price is actually quite reasonable for an intermediate watch – Currently $469 at RunStopShop (8 Mar 16).
I think compared to the higher level models and I think unless you are a serious athlete, a triathlete, or numbers nerd you don’t potentially need all the extra functions. You can pay by instalments with RunStopShop which is a great idea.
One of the things I loved about this watch when I was researching and what persuaded me to go back to Garmin was that most of their watches now come with ‘Live Tracking’ which means you can set your watch up so that others can see where you are. This would have been handy last year when running my marathon as I did a 36k run one day and my husband was a bit nervous whether I would be ok as I had all sorts of foot issues so we had to scramble around to find an app and I had to run with my giant phone on my arm.
So now he can access Garmin Connect and I can give him access through his phone to see where I am at all times.
Pros and Cons
- Nice and light
- Nice design and not too intrusive
- Reasonably priced for a middle of the range running watch
- Battery life
- Smart features
- Live Tracking – good for safety
- Activity monitor doesn’t pick up steps when running with a stroller – but that applies to all watches with activity monitors (as far as I know!)
- Not too many colour variations if you like lots of colour in your watch – didn’t bother me though as I chose black with a hint of red.
So in summary. This is a great middle of the range running watch with lots of great functions and statistics available if you want data in relation to your running.