Thursday, January 7, 2016

Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

      Hi! It's been awhile since I have posted anything on the good-old blog. Mainly this is because through December I was in a mad-rush to finish writing a thesis, defending, and graduating with my Masters. And guess what!? I did it!
     As a graduation present, Craig bought me a new running watch- the Garmin Forerunner 235. I was not necessarily needing a new watch, as my old FR15 was still working fine. However, I had mentioned to Craig all the things I wanted in a watch, including activity monitoring, live tracking, text messages, and running features like VO2 estimates, which I had not seen put together all in one product. Until now! 

     Anyways I thought it would be fun to share with everyone my personal experiences with this watch compared to my old model. Below is a run-down of what I found to be  most useful in this product and what I wish I could change. 

Update (10/17/2017): music controls now are compatible with Spotify!


      This watch came in a cool color (I think it was literally called cool blue). It has a large display which is useful for scrolling through the menu. It also has buttons that allows you to scroll both forwards and backwards through the menu rather than just forward. I really like the time display on the watch. It has a more modern aesthetic. 

     The size of the watch is much larger than the FR15 (as shown below). This is rather unfortunate because I like to wear the watch throughout the day, and I find the larger size kind of annoying. I think the benefit though of having a larger screen outweighs the inconvenience of its bulkiness.


     I have had about a month now to test out the watch on runs, and I even had the chance to use it at a race last week- theYukon Do It Half Marathon in Port Orchard, WA.

The Yukon Do It Half Marathon was held on Dec. 27 and yes it was snowing!

     The first thing that I noticed when running with this watch is how quickly it finds a GPS signal. With the FR15, I used to have to wait around a few minutes before I could begin a run, but now it's practically instantaneous with a push of a button.

      A feature of the Garmin Forerunner 235 I really enjoy is that this watch allows me to save workouts to use while running. For instance if I would like to do a slow warm up, then 5x400m intervals at a 7:30 mi/hour pace I can set it up on the computer, sync it to the watch, and during the next run the watch will inform me of each step as I am running.

     Another super useful thing about this model is that has a wrist heart rate (HR) monitor. I like this because I extremely dislike wearing a HR  monitor around my chest. It is possible that the accuracy on the wrist HR monitor is compromised, although I have not noticed this. I have observed my HR at various paces and it is comparable to what I have observed using a chest HR monitor.

     Another feature of the Forerunner 235 I have found useful is live tracking. This allows me to send an email to someone on my contact list- for example Craig- and he is able to see my run streaming live on a map. This was really useful for the race as he was able to find me as I was running. Also family members from out- of-town were able to watch which was really cool!

     Using this watch, VO2 estimates allow for a prediction for finishing times at various distances. Based on my VO2 estimates it said I should be finishing a half marathon at 1:55, which I feel like is extremely out of reach for the moment (This past week I finished in 2:22). Knowing that theoretically I should be running faster based on my fitness is valuable information and I can see how this could be a useful tool for more serious runners.

     Even after a month, I still do not feel completely comfortable with the numerous settings, and I tend to not push any buttons while I am running. During last week's half marathon, for instance, I was trying to scroll through menu and ended up pushing the "lap" button multiple times which was frustrating. Overall, the FR235 definitely takes awhile to learn, but I think all the possible applications of the watch is worth the learning curve.

Other features

     One nice aspect of this watch is that it has activity monitoring, so basically it gives you a step-count for the day. I had this feature on my FR15 and did not want to loose it by upgrading to a more advanced running watch.  

     A feature that I really enjoy (and which I had not anticipated) is the "find my phone." I tend to be somewhat forgetful and misplace my phone daily. By selecting this option on my watch, my phone emits a radar-sounding noise, and I am able to track it down (only if it is inside and not forgotten in the car haha). Another caveat is that the Garmin App must be left open on the phone for this to work, which is not always the case. 

     Another cool thing is that the watch can be paired to a smart phone so that text messages, phone calls, and calendar alerts will appear on the face of the watch as they are received. I was concerned that I would find this annoying, and I would be constantly bugged by notifications. Quite the opposite is true however. Now I don't need to check my phone because I know that I will see any activity through my watch. It is also nice to see texts and phone calls from Craig while I am running. In the past I have missed important calls while on a run. 

     In the end, I am very excited about this watch and am looking forward to many more runs while wearing it. As an everyday watch, its size is not preferable to me, and I miss my smaller FR15. It's numerous and cool features though allow me to forgive its girth, and I have worn it everyday since I received it in the mail.

    P.S. Thank you Craig for the awesome gift!!