March 28, 2022

A New Garmin Forerunner! (Warning: Nerdy Stuff)


I started to write this post before I wrote my running recap for the week, so some parts may be a little redundant; I don't want to rewrite it though because I was nearly done with this post! As I said, I got a new Garmin Forerunner so I wanted to write a little about that. Or maybe a lot. You know me. (This is not a sponsored post, by the way; I paid for the Garmin with my own money and I'm just writing this for nerdy fun!)

Just for fun, here is a collage of my previous Garmin Forerunners.


Garmin Forerunner 205, 305, 910xt, and 620

The top left is my very first one that I got in (I think) 2007 to train to walk the Indy Half-Marathon. It didn't have a heart rate option, so I eventually used the red one (top right) that my brother gave me. And I thought it would be fun to send the 205 around the country to any readers who would want to try it out for two weeks and then mail it to the next person. I think about 20 people ended up using it! 

When the red one died, the generous people at Garmin actually sent me that black one (the 910xt) as a gift!! (Probably because I give them so much free advertising, haha. They also sent me one to give away on the blog, which was fun.) In 2013, the 620 was released (the bottom right). It had all sorts of really cool features that the previous Garmins did not, so I bought that one (Jerry used the 910xt and then I gave it to my brother when he started running).

Moving on...

I'd been really frustrated with my Garmin Forerunner 620 for about the last year. It's the model from 2013(!) so it's definitely up there in age. It works, but trying to upload my runs or creating and sending runs to my watch was really sketchy. I also had to download updates by plugging it into the computer, which is a pain in these days of bluetooth technology. The watch will work, but it takes FOREVER and in the amount of time I spend working on it, I could have finished my run.

Since I've been running regularly since May of last year, I finally decided that I was going to get a new Garmin. The problem is, I didn't want a "smart watch" or an all-day fitness tracker. I have no interest in an Apple watch or anything like that. I just wanted a watch that I could wear only for my runs--tracking my pace, distance, interval training, etc.

Unfortunately, these watches are practically non-existent now. Most newer watches have so many bells and whistles that aren't necessary for old-fashioned me. The one thing I *really* didn't want was to have phone notifications sent to the watch. It drives me completely crazy when I'm having a conversation with someone and they are constantly looking at watch notifications. It's as bad as looking at their phone.

After reading a ton about different fitness watches, I realized I was just going to have to get one that works like a smart watch--it was inevitable unless I got the absolute basic model and there was a bit more I wanted than that.

Also, I wanted a touchscreen. My 620 is a touchscreen and I couldn't imagine going back to using the side buttons for navigation on the watch. However, that's another feature that is hard to come by on the Forerunners now! I was really surprised. (You can still find older models with touchscreen.) So, I figured I'd try a non-touchscreen watch and see how I liked it.

After reading about a million reviews, I finally decided to get the Forerunner 245 (without music). The 245 has two options: one stores all of your music, which I don't want; the other is $50 cheaper and it doesn't store music. (They are $250 for the non-music and $300 for the music one). (I'll link to them at the end of the post)

I wasn't a fan of the wrist heart rate monitor (chest straps are more accurate) but the wrist monitor is another feature that is pretty standard now. I wasn't sure how accurate the wrist heart rate monitor would be, but I noticed that the 245 allows you to turn off the wrist monitor and add a chest strap if you'd prefer.

Anyway, I received the Forerunner 245 last Friday night (the 18th). I skipped Friday's run because I was hoping to use the new watch and I was waiting for the delivery all day. It didn't get here until 8:30 PM, so I decided to do my run on Saturday instead so that I could use the new watch.

When I first started messing around with it on Friday night to get it set up for my runs, I really had a hard time getting used to the fact that it's not a touch screen. After reading through specs of other watches, I saw that it's actually really common not to have touchscreen. It took a little getting used to, but I got the hang of it (the 620 was actually my only touchscreen watch; my previous Garmins were not).

I was excited to try it out! I wanted to test it outside and on the treadmill. I was very curious to see how it would measure my distance on the treadmill. While on the treadmill, the 620 always reads that I'm going quite a bit slower than I actually am--and that's even with a foot pod (a little clip you wear on your shoe that gives you the info you'd normally get outside with GPS).

I know I've written this ten million times, but here is a quick explanation of the problem I have on the treadmill with my Garmin...

1) The timer on the treadmill is too fast. When 10 minutes pass in "real life" time, the treadmill reads something like 10:08. So, I couldn't rely on the timer and I used my Garmin for timing my runs (the Garmin is perfectly accurate as far as the timer).

2) The Garmin just doesn't accurately reflect my speed. When increasing or decreasing speed, the Garmin 620 doesn't really register that change on the treadmill.

3) The distance on the Garmin 620 is very inaccurate on the treadmill. After bitching for years about the inaccuracy of using my Garmin on the treadmill, I finally did a great calibration test that I discovered via DC Rainmaker. I used a measuring wheel, which is very accurate--they are used to measure race courses--to figure out if the distance on the treadmill was correct. You can read how I did it on this post

But basically, the treadmill's distance is inaccurate as well. After doing the accuracy test with the measuring wheel, I learned that when you run a mile on the treadmill (when the treadmill reads 1.000) the ACTUAL distance run is 1.059. Maybe that doesn't sound like much, but for a 3-miler on the treadmill, I'm actually running 3.177 miles. Not only does that affect my distance, but my pace as well.

However, it was too annoying to recalculate everything after every run, so here is how I logged my runs: I used the distance from the treadmill reading (knowing it was less than I'd actually run) and I used the timer from the Garmin (knowing it was accurate). That way, I wouldn't be cheating myself.

Okay, so I was kind of excited to try out the Forerunner 245 on the treadmill to see if there was an improvement in the accuracy since 2013 (hahaha!). I still used the foot pod because it gives other running dynamics like your stride length and things like that. I'm actually not sure how the Forerunner 245 does without the food pod--I'm going to have to test that as well!

I usually don't even look at the Garmin while I'm on the treadmill (other than my heart rate) because I know that the distance and pace are way off. When trying out the 245, though, I glanced at it every so often to see what the speed reading was. I moved the speed up and down a little on the treadmill to see if the Garmin would reflect the change--and it did!

At the end of the run, my Garmin read 2.54 miles in 25:00 minutes. The treadmill read 2.40 miles in 25:17 minutes. (For clarification, I ran an actual *real time* of 25:00 minutes--I started my Garmin and the treadmill at the same time--so the treadmill timer was 17 seconds fast).

So, going by the accuracy test that I'd done with the measuring wheel, I multiplied the treadmill's distance of 2.40 by 1.059 to get the *actual* distance I'd run--I wanted to see how it compared to the Garmin. And you know what?

The actual distance was 2.54 miles, which is EXACTLY what the Garmin read! All of this nerdy stuff is basically to say that my new Garmin 245 had perfect accuracy on the treadmill. I was elated! I know it doesn't make any real difference in the grand scheme of things, but this was way too exciting for me.

This is the summary after the run, which is the same as the 620. (The only reason my pace was so fast is because it was my tempo run!)


Obviously, this was one single run so I can't say it will be forever accurate. But I've never had this happen before on any of my calibration attempts. I'll keep trying it out. I'd like to try the indoor and even outdoor track as well.

The reason this is even relevant to me is that all along through my training, I've been running significantly faster than I logged. Normally, when running on the treadmill at 5.0 mph, for example, a 3-mile run would be 36:00 minutes--12:00 minutes per mile. When considering the accuracy of the measuring wheel, while the treadmill said I was running at 5.0 mph I was *actually* running an 11:20/mile pace (or about 5.3 mph).

It's no wonder that it felt harder! This makes sense why my pace is faster when I'm outside. I might be running at the same effort but my pace is faster because I'm used to the treadmill telling me that I'm going slower than I am. When I run outside at a pace that "feels like" the treadmill, it's usually faster; and now I know why. 

Okay, I realize this is a SUPER nerdy post. I know a lot of other people have issues on the treadmill as well, so I wanted to make sure to mention all that.

For the less-nerdy stuff, I wanted to do a quick rundown of what I've noticed/liked/disliked about the Forerunner 245:

*You have the option to turn off all phone notifications, so I don't have any of that coming through. Definitely a positive.

*The wrist-based heart monitor is surprisingly accurate. I don't like that I have to wear the watch above my wrist bone (and of course it has to be on bare skin; in the winter, I would usually put my watch over my outer layer so I could see it).

*Using the buttons instead of the touchscreen felt very awkward at first, but it doesn't bother me at all now. The set-up process is very different from the 620, and I admit, it took me several hours to get it all figured out and set up. However, I learned a lot about all of the features from doing that. There isn't really a reason to mess with the screen now.

*I like that there is an option for "Treadmill" when choosing a workout. On the 620, my options were Run, Bike, and Race. Each of those just simply means that you can change what info you see on the watch face. When running, for instance, I want to see different info than I would for biking (for example: for running, I like to see minutes per mile; for biking, I like miles per hour). So you can set up profiles for those. With this Forerunner 245, there are a few extra profiles to use, and one of them is Treadmill. Again, I like to see different fields on the watch face for treadmill running than I do for outdoor running.

This is on my Run setting--I can see my route. You can also use the map in real time to see where you're going, but I haven't done this yet.


*You have the option to turn off activity tracking (I only wear the watch when I run, so I don't need it trying to track my steps, heart rate, sleep cycles and even menstrual cycles--yes, you can track that--and all that stuff).

*It's extremely fast when syncing to my phone. I barely blink and it's synchronized. I can create a workout on my phone and instantly send it to my watch. With the 620 model, it was about a 50/50 shot of having it sync to my watch. And if it did, it took at least a dozen tries--turning the watch on and off over and over. I've had no problems at all with the 245.

*You can see on the watch face the heart rate zone graph that I normally like to look at on my phone app.



I also really like that I can see my heart rate per split on a single screen (I couldn't do this with the 620):



*The race predictor on the watch is much more realistic than before. It used to give me predictions like 24:00 for a 5K or 3:50 for a marathon, etc. There is NO WAY IN HELL I could run those times without training like a beast for at least a year or two. This predictor was definitely more realistic.


This Forerunner 245 has all of the cool features that the 620 has, but there are a TON of new features as well. If you're super interested, I'd check out DC Rainmaker's review (he reviewed the Forerunner 245 + music model). But overall, I am really happy with the new Forerunner and I think it was the perfect choice for me :)

Here is a (Amazon affiliate) link for the Forerunner 245. (An affiliate link just means that if you buy it through that link, I may get a small commission, but it costs you nothing extra.)

3 comments:

  1. So funny you posted this today. Thought of you last night.

    I recently got the garmin 55 when it was time to retire my last one and after a few months it is all most dead on accurate on the treadmill. It took a couple of TM runs where at the end and you hit stop it gives you the option to "Calibrate and Save" which in the past I did plus the times of using it outside. Last night it was only off by .01 after 2.25 miles (watch said 2.25 and TM said 2.24)

    It made me think of your post a few years ago about getting the foot pod accurate.

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  2. I love this nerdy post! I too had a 620 and loved it . . . until I didn't. Battery life eventually got me with it when I was training for my third (and slowest) full marathon. I too thought it would miss the touch screen but do not. I had the 230 which is very similar to your 245, but wound up returning it for the 930 because I do run/walk intervals and like to be able to turn interval alerts on or off or change them during a workout. I couldn't do that with the 230. I wonder if the 245 has that option. So my 930 has a ton of options I don't use, but I really want the features it does have that I use. I too turn off the phone notifications. Ugh. When I'm out in nature especially, I don't want to know the world exists! I use the "indoor track" setting on mine for "house jogging" and it seems very accurate in distance and pace, so long as I only run. My pet peeve is that it doesn't capture the walk accurately indoors. If I run a mile, it tracks a mile. If I run walk a mile 30:30 (30 seconds walk/30 seconds run), it only tracks 3/4 of a mile since it thinks I've only walked half as far as I have. Hmmm. I just had a thought. I can never think what to put in my blogs. Maybe I should blog this! Thanks again for your uber nerdy post. I love it.

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  3. Sounds like a perfect watch for you! Wow your link to DC Rainmaker was a blast from the past! Back in my running days, I would just pour over all his reviews trying to pick the perfect watch lol. I totally forgot about him! I've been stuck on my Apple Watch since 2017 now but before that I went through quite a few fitness trackers!

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