Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

When I got my hyperthyroidism diagnosis and my doctor prescribed a beta-blocker for my high heart rate, Mike and I decided that it would be helpful to monitor my heart rate 24/7 to see what my baseline was and how the medication affected me over time. I decided to sell the Garmin 225 I bought last year and buy the Forerunner 235 that came out last year because it has the 24/7 HR feature. It was great timing because REI was running a sale in the month of May that dropped the price from $329 to $250, and I had a $30 gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket ;)

The watch comes in three different color schemes, Marsala (dark red inner band and circle around watch face), Frost Blue (bright light blue band and circle around face), and Black/Gray (black all over with gray circle around face).  I opted for the latter since I thought it would go with more outfits and blend in better at work.0608162054_HDR
I’ve had it for a few weeks now and run with it both indoors and outdoors, so I wanted to provide a quick review.    Here are a few of the features I love:
24/7 heart rate monitoring – This is why I got the watch, and the heart rate observed looks pretty accurate overall to me.  It also calculates resting heart rate, which can be an indication of overall health trends (e.g., getting fitter or identifying over-training)
Apps via the Connect IQ, Garmin’s platform for third-party apps – I’ve installed a new watch face that tells me mileage, steps, current heart rate, battery life, and time/date all at once, and another app that tells me what the weather’s like outside.
Activity profiles – You can set up different activity profiles (e.g., outdoor running, indoor running, cycling, other) that customize the configuration of your data screens and GPS. I toggle between the indoor and outdoor run profiles a lot, so it’s helpful not to have to remember to turn GPS on and off.0608162051_HDR
Race Predictor – After you run outside a few times, the watch uses your heart rate, pace, and other data to calculate how fast you could probably run a 5K, 10K, half, and marathon today.  I’m working back up to my former fitness level, but it was encouraging to see that (my watch thought) I could run a half in about 2:05, which isn’t too far off from my PR.0608162051a_HDR
Messages/calls from phone – The watch can be connected to your phone to display incoming calls, emails and text messages. This is great for me because my phone is usually on silent so I miss 90% of the calls I receive. No more!

Wireless upload of data – The watch automatically connects to my phone via Bluetooth and transfers any activities/steps/health data/etc to Garmin Connect. It’s so nice not having to hook up my watch to the computer to download activities (my FR225 had this feature too, but it wasn’t working properly in the last month or two)

There are all sorts of other nifty features, like VO2 max measurements, recovery advisor (a countdown that tells you how long to wait till your next hard workout, based on heart rate data), and back to start (helps you get back to where you started during an outdoor run) that I haven’t really used yet.  I find it to be more comfortable than my 225, because the band feels softer and more stretchy (still rubber), and the optical heart rate sensor is covered by clear plastic (vs digging into my skin). I was nervous that the battery life would be really short, but even with all day tracking and ~1 hr of activity each day (probably 4 hrs of GPS time total), my battery has been lasting 5-6 days, which isn’t as bad as I expected.

Do you use a fitness tracker/ GPS watch?


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