Stuff We Love: The Garmin Forerunner


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  59 comments   :  31,079 Views

Back in September 2009, I reviewed the Nike Plus sport band. Back then, I wasn't a serious runner. Running was a casual thing I did because I thought it was a good workout—not something I actually liked doing or looked forward to. When I reviewed the Nike band, I spent a lot of time using it to see how well it worked, and it definitely helped me enjoy running more. It's still a great running gadget at an introductory price point that I would definitely recommend to others.

But it wasn't perfect: It didn't calibrate very well, and wasn't the most accurate tool. Plus, it lacked a heart rate monitor, which I really love to use when I train. I was ready for an upgrade, so I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner in January 2010 and WOW. I love my Forerunner so much that I can't imagine running without it. It has been instrumental in helping me become a better runner—and in transforming running from something I tolerated into something I actually enjoyed. So why has it taken me more than a year to tell you about it? Good question! (I have no excuse other than procrastination.)

If you're curious about how the Garmin Forerunner works, or interested in a new workout gadget that can making running (or walking) a little more fun, here's what three SparkPeople's coaches who all use the Forerunner have to say about it.

Coach Nancy
Model: Garmin Forerunner 405 with heart rate monitor (SRP $349.99)
"I purchased my Garmin Forerunner 405 in May 2008 and have not missed an outside run with it yet. It has totally revolutionized my running. I love the wireless capability to upload my runs to my computer (and online to Garmin Connect), and the transfer is quick. Once uploaded, it also lets me see changes in elevation levels and pace throughout my run. By permitting me to see my pace per mile immediately, it allows me to pace myself for any run that I have scheduled for a particular day: from a tempo run, to intervals, to the long, slow distance run. I no longer run according to heart rate alone, but pace per mile. I think it's cool that I can view elevation changes, too."

Coach Jen
Model: Garmin Forerunner 305 (SRP $199.99)
"I received my Garmin Forerunner 305 as a gift, but was excited to have something to track the pace of my runs. When my mind starts to wander, it's nice to be able to glance down at my watch and know it's time to pick up the pace again. The only downside is that I used to be very good at naturally pacing myself. I didn't need a watch to know about how fast I was going—I could tell just by how I was feeling. I'm not as good at that anymore because I've relied so much on my Garmin. But it's definitely been a helpful tool as I train for various races."

I have the same model as Nancy and sing the same praises for it. I can't imagine running without my Garmin these days. I love uploading my routes, seeing how my pace changes, watching the changes in elevation, and tracking all of my runs. I also use it for hikes and walks with the dog. It's really cool to see the map of my route on a hiking trail that I otherwise would not be able to map with traditional online tools alone.

Before the advent of Smartphone with location devices built in (and workout apps to go along with them), the Garmin was about the only tool you could use to accurately track the speed, distance and elevation of your runs. While some new Smartphone apps may do this for you now, I'm still loyal to my Garmin, especially since it also connects with my heart rate monitor.

I think certain gadgets can make workouts more fun and interesting—definitely more entertaining—but they're not without their downfalls. On a cloudy day and sometimes in a big city, the Garmin has trouble connecting to satellites. Still, that's rare for me, and I still credit the Garmin Forerunner for helping me "get into" running more and continue to stay interested in it over the long haul.

Have you tried a Garmin Forerunner? How about another running gadget like the Nike+ or a specific Smartphone app? Tell us about your experience below!

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  • 9
    My daughters bought me a Mio Motiva watch for my bd, and I love it! It doesn't down load to the computer but it does measure heart rate, recovery rate, calories burned, work out timing, and interval running/walking. Not sure of the price but something that has made workouts, treadmill and exercise more fun and easier, especially giving me the information about exercising at the optimum heart rate for calorie burn. love it! - 4/13/2011   9:13:27 AM
  • 8
    I have had a Garmin 405 since they first year appeared several years ago. I use if for all my running, biking (+cadence) and even just walking the dog. It is great. Great freedom to go in any direction I desire and still have my distance tracked. - 4/13/2011   9:13:14 AM
  • 7
    $350 !!!! I have a hard time getting $70 pair of running shoes!! Yikes. - 4/13/2011   9:02:30 AM
  • 6
    I don't know anyone who runs with a Garmin and DOESN'T like it...just sayin'. - 4/13/2011   8:52:04 AM
    Coaches Nicole, Nancy, and Jen make three Spark coaches!

    I have the Garmin 301 with the heart rate monitor, and love this model too. They really do make a run more interesting.
    - 4/13/2011   8:41:12 AM
  • 4
    @ODIROM I'm the third. ;-) - 4/13/2011   8:38:24 AM
    That's only two spark coaches. Just saying.

    O - 4/13/2011   8:21:24 AM
  • 2
    I received my Garmin 305 with the heart rate monitor as a gift. I plan to use my Forerunner for long distance walking/hiking and it will be a convenient tool for registering mileage when I'm away from my walking routes or extending them. It is GPS enabled so it will guide me through uncharted territory. - 4/13/2011   8:06:46 AM
    I would loooove to have one of these. My BFF/running buddy has one she got for a gift and I'm super jealous. However, I can buy an IPAD or an for the same price -so I would prefer to get a Garmin second hand as they are quite expensive.

    I did buy a $4 stop watch/calorie counter off EBay and it seems to be helping me with my running a bit. It doesn't track my mileage, but I can do that with google maps. I can figure out how much time I shave off my mileage and it gives me a simple reading of my calories burned by using the sensor. I still track my calories through Sparkpeople as I'm not sure how reliable the sensor is, and if I execise at different intervals the calorie count on the watch is definitely not going to be accurate as it does an average calorie burn for the heart rate you test at the very end of your workout. Not exactly accurate, but fun to play with. - 4/13/2011   7:23:40 AM

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