Garmin Forerunner Review

To ensure I could give you a great Garmin Forerunner review, I have been using my Garmin Watch for weeks now as I train for a half marathon.  All of their watches use GPS, but the Garmin Forerunner 410 that I purchased also included the Garmin heart rate monitor.   

Let me sum up this watch in three words. It is awesome! I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this incredible tool. It makes running fun. I can’t wait to go out for a run and see how I am doing as I run. All the data it collects can be uploaded and displays on the Garmin Connect website, or on other running logs like RunningAHEAD.com.

This review specifically focuses on the Garmin Forerunner 410 GPS-Enabled Sports Watch. You can still purchase earlier models, but the company now only manufactures the 410 and the 610. The Garmin Forerunner 610 Heart Rate Monitor Watch was just released and it has a touch screen instead of a touchable bezel on the outside of the 410 watch. Here's a video review if you'd rather watch than read.



Garmin Forerunner Features

- Time and Date so you can use it as a regular watch
- GPS to keep track of walking, running, or biking
- Several Training Modes to track different types of workouts
- Works with the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor
- USB ANT+ Stick to communicate with the Garmin Training Center
- USB charge connection

Garmin Forerunner Review – During A Distance Run

It monitors pretty much everything. The tool is absolutely amazing. To help you understand it better, I will show you how it tracked one of my runs with this watch.

First of all, I put the watch on training mode, and I also strapped on the Garmin Heart Rate Monitor. These two tools instantly started communicating with each other, and I could see my heart rate on the watch before I even began my run. When you switch to training mode, the Garmin Forerunner has to acquire satellite signals, or it won’t properly monitor your run. This only takes about 30 seconds. Don’t move around as you wait for the watch to locate the GPS signals.


In the training mode, you can see three different screens. One screen will show the time you have been running and the distance you have traveled. Tap the “bezel, “ the outer touchable ring on the watch, to switch to a second screen. On this mode, you can adjust what pace you want to do your run on. I selected 8:00 per mile pace (which is also the default pace) and it tells me exactly how many seconds ahead or behind that pace I am during the run. Tap the bezel one more time and you can see your current heart rate, if you are using the Garmin heart rate monitor.

Once you have your pace set, just press the start button and get to your run. As you are running, you can touch the bezel to see the different modes. For instance, if you want to see your heart rate, just tap the bezel. To switch to see the current time you have been running and distance traveled, tap it again. I prefer to keep it on the pace screen. On this screen, it tells me how far ahead or behind the pace I am, but doesn’t tell the current running time. It does however beep at every mile marker and tell you the pace of the last mile you just completed. I was so enamored with this feature, I ran an extra mile just to see it happen one more time!

When my run was done, I simply pressed the exact same button that I did to start the watch. I also took off the Garmin heart rate monitor. It was still working after the run was done, but sometimes the monitor does get a bit “pinchy,” especially as I was stretching out after the completed run.

The next part is by far my favorite. Time to upload my data. Hooray! Now before you can do this, you do have to download program from Garmin Connect. This only takes a few minutes, and you’ll be ready to transfer the data from the watch to the computer.

Assuming the Garmin Connect program has uploaded without any problems, the next step is to plug in a USB ANT stick into a USB port on your computer. It looks like a tiny jump drive. Then, take your Garmin Forerunner GPS watch and place it right next to the computer. The ANT Agent will find your running watch via wireless communication, and then it will upload the data.

You also need to create an account at Garmin Connect to see all this cool data. I also use an online running log called RunningAHEAD.com because they can upload your files as well. Want to see my run? Just look below. This is the screen you will see at the Garmin Training Center after your view the run that has uploaded.


Information overload! It really is amazing to see all the details of your run, and you can analyze it mile-by-mile, or even step-by-step.

If you look at this screen, there is a play button. You can actually hit play and watch your speed vary as you go over the course you just ran.

I’m not going to break down each graph and each statistic, but the one thing I thought was pretty impressive is how my heart rate gradually climbed during the run. I always make a conscious effort during a distance run to either hold my starting pace, or progressively get faster. This run, I tried to hold pace. My mile splits were all between 7:43 and 7:50, but my heart rate climbed each mile. Below is data that is presented at RunningAHEAD after you upload it from your Garmin.


Mile one was 151 and the fifth mile was 159. This means you actually have to feel like you are picking up the pace just to run the same speed. If you give out the same effort and stay at your current heart rate for a long time, you’ll just be slowing down. The only way to solve this problem is to find a running route where the last couple miles of a run are straight downhill!

I also wrote about my experiences during an interval workout, but before we get to that, lets go through the pros and cons of this watch.

Garmin Forerunner Review Pros and Cons

Pros - Why you should get one now!

- The incredible amount of data it collects

- It monitors your distance traveled

- You can set a pace and it will tell you how fast or slow you are, as you run!

- With a Garmin Heart Rate Monitor, the Garmin 410 tells your current beats per minute

- You can train based upon different heart rate zones.

- Even though it has an incredible amount of tools, it still is pretty simple to use.

- Once the data has transferred to your computer, it maps out the route you took and tells you where each mile split was, and what your time was at this location.

- The computer data will also tell you the rate of speed you were running at each location.

- It monitors the elevation you were at as well. This is very nice because you should be motoring at a faster pace downhill, compared to when you trudge uphill.

- The computer program even saves routes that you ran before, so you can compare each time you run the same route.

- It charges easily by using a USB cord that clips onto the watch.

- The Garmin Forerunner 410 looks like a regular watch. The earlier Garmin GPS watch models are really big and blocky. The Garmin 410 is still large and thick, but not nearly the size of previous models.

- There are many more things that this watch can do, but I haven’t had the Garmin 410 long enough to get to know it inside and out.

Cons - Why the Garmin might not be for you.

- It’s kind of big and bulky. I know I said it wasn’t as big as previous models, but it still is larger than an average watch. It weighs a little over two ounces.

- It doesn’t come in a men’s and woman’s version. The only size that it comes in has a watch band that just fit around my wrist. I’m not a huge guy, but I am bigger than a typical runner. If you are wondering, I am 6 foot 1, and have pretty broad shoulders. I wish I could get a band that was a little bigger.

- My wife thought it the watch was too big for her though. She noticed the weight of the watch as she ran. It weighs 2.2 ounces.

- You have to charge it often. Using the GPS mode will drain the battery quickly. It needs charging after three or four runs.

- The “bezel” which is the touchable ring around the watch, is touchy. To control the watch as you toggle through the different modes asks you to spin your finger around the outside of the bezel. It is fun, but I haven’t completely got the hang of it. You can lock this bezel as you are running with the Garmin, so you don’t accidentally switch modes or stop the watch.

- It’s expensive. I wouldn’t recommend this watch to someone who isn’t serious about running. Yes, this does help with motivation. I love to run just to see the data, but I would be running anyways without this watch.

Garmin Forerunner Review – Is this watch for you?

Here is a little background on why I splurged and bought such an expensive running tool. I am currently training for a half marathon. The program I am using was created by a two-time Olympic Distance runner. He believes in heart rate zone training, and I needed a watch that has this capability. I could have gone with just a regular heart rate monitor, but I wanted as much information to analyze as possible.

The Garmin 410 Forerunner is a runner’s dream. I can map out different running routes as I run. I can see each mile split. Intervals can be preprogrammed and the watch will beep when its time to start a new set, or slow down for rest time. It can be set to modes where you see the pace instead of the total distance ran. You can set it to just show your heart rate. There are so many options available, it’s almost silly.

Do you have a little extra money to spend on your running? Then get a Garmin. Shoes will wear out quickly, but you can use this watch for a long long time. Just think about the possibilities. Let’s say you run one big race per year, like a certain marathon course or half marathon. You can compare the data of these years’ workouts to the next year. It will help you to understand what is working for you, and what isn’t. The first step to improving something is to measure your progress. Why not have the most amount of information available right on your wrist?

I bought my Garmin through Amazon. Here are direct links to the Garmin Forerunner 410 GPS-Enabled Sports Watch and the Garmin Forerunner 610 Heart Rate Monitor Watch.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler



Related Articles

- Running Gear
- Garmin GPS Watch ***with video review***
- Half Marathon Training Guide
- Running Workouts
- 100 Day Marathon Plan
- Return from the Garmin Forerunner Review to the Tips4Running homepage

This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for Tips4Running.com. In addition to running, he's also an author, and a full time teacher.

You can follow David on Twitter @Tiefsa or visit his blog
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