Garmin recommendations

Someone at work knows I have a Garmin… they probably know I’ve had quite a few… she was asking me my thoughts on what Garmin would be good for her… we didn’t get into it in too much detail, but here’s my recommendations.

Here you go Laura… 🙂 here’s the info I think you’re after…

Given I’ve had about 6 Garmin forerunners and a few activity / sleep trackers… I like to think I know about Garmins… and I’ve upgraded quite a few times since my first one in 2008. They tend to hold their value well, so it’s easy to sell an older one and upgrade to a new one.

If you’re not sure on which one to buy, I’d always recommend searching ‘DC rainmaker in depth review’ and the name of the Garmin for a full run down of the watch you’re looking at.

The good thing I like about Garmins for running and activities is the Garmin Connect app… along with the loads of data they generate and functions they have (workouts, heart rate, performance and coaching indicators). You download it from the App Store, then you can connect friends an track your activities and more.

Since 2008 I’ve had the following Garmins:

Forerunner 410 – black
Forerunner 610 – black
Forerunner 620 – white & orange
Forerunner 920xt – red & white
Forerunner 925xt – light blue
Forerunner 645 music – cerise
(Plus the Vivosmart 3 and 4)

Here’s what the numbers on the Garmin forerunners mean…

The lower the number, the more basic the forerunner / running watch it is. For example, 30 is the entry level model, then it goes up to the 900 series.

Where there’s a 0 on the end of means if you want heart rate, you need a strap with it.

Where there’s a 5 on the end, that means there’s wrist based heart rate monitoring on it (and you can use it with a strap if you want / and you can get more detailed metrics with a HRM strap).

Xt means cross training – or more specifically those forerunners are more focussed for triathletes, with longer battery life and more exercise functions.

Now here’s my recommendations for a Garmin for an everyday runner…

The Garmin forerunner 35 … a good solid GPS with wrist based heart rate monitor. At just over £100 it’s a great deal and a good looking, small, every day watch which is easy to use.

It comes in 4 colours (the strap), you can sync it to your phone for notifications. I don’t think it stores music like the 645 music and vivoactive 3 music do… but you can apparently control your music from it.

Then the next step up I’d recommend if you want a bit more out of your running watch is the Forerunner 235… the black one is about £159 and this blue one is about £166…

A wrist based heart rate monitor again (with notifications / music prompt and sync to Garmin connect), and this one has more detailed metrics including vo2 max estimate (an estimate of how well you use oxygen), coaching and workouts.

The screens can be customised in this one, and it can do audio prompts too. And you can select different front screens via the Garmin connect IQ functions.

Then here’s the running watch I’ve got… the forerunner 645 music. The 6 series does all the things that the 2 series does but it has more advanced running metrics (when paired with a HRM Run strap, like in the image at the top of this page).

It estimates lactate threshold and has performance indicators to show if it thinks you’re maintaining fitness, being unproductive, peaking or in recovery.

It stores music, and provides audio prompts – connecting via Bluetooth to headphones (like my aftershokz bone conduction headphones, or air pods) it gives you real time feedback and you can choose the language it speaks at you in. (I found the English one a bit posh, and the American one a bit cheesy, so I have an Australian lady prompting me… will we call her Charlene?)

It’s set up as more than just a running watch, with other activities, I use Strength and bike too.

I got the cerise one, and think I got £20 off it as a deal online… it is a bit steep, but I sold my 935xt for about £220 odds, and the upgrade was worth it. It’s light as a feather and gives me everything I need and more. If you want a top of the range running watch with music and you have the cash to spend, this is it.

(There’s also the Fenix for longer battery life / and the vivoactive as another music running watch).

Amazon or wiggle or start fitness are good places to look for good prices, but a google search should get you the best price for whatever watch you choose. Or if you’re going to a big city in the US you might get a good deal there or via duty free…

Remember to go with a known online shop though, and if the price is too good, it probably is. Some are shipped from Hong Kong and might not be quite right… so don’t go there.

One thing you could do is look for vouchers for 10-20% off or sign up to a newsletter for £10 off then unsubscribe. And remember to check DC rainmaker’s reviews before you buy.

In summary…

If you want a good simple GPS running watch, and don’t want to spend too much, go for the Garmin forerunner 35. (£107).

If you want a bit more of an advanced GPS running watch, go for the Garmin forerunner 235. (£159-166).

And if you want an advanced GPS running watch with everything you’ll ever need (and money is no object, go for the forerunner 645 music (£350 ish) with HRM run strap (£50-£60 or you might be able to get a ‘bundle’), and get a pair of aftershokz bone conduction headphones too. (About £90-100).

If you do more than just run, and money is no object, try the 935xt (triathlons) or the fenix (long battery life). Or if you want a nice simple Garmin with music, try the Vivoactive 3 music… or the vivoactive 3 for a more snazzy looking watch.

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