Garmin Forerunner 935 review
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Garmin’s Forerunner fitness trackers have long been one of the brand’s most popular among serious runners. Not only do they offer unique running data and personalized feedback, but they’re designed to fit, feel and perform exactly the way a runner needs them to.
Garmin’s first Forerunner was called the 101 and debuted in 2003. After dozens of technology generations and improvements over the years, the latest is the Forerunner 935.
To really put this advanced running watch through its paces, we had competitive distance runner Ted Westbrook put the 935 through a cumulative 1,000 miles of running. Westbrook has over a dozen years of experience using GPS running watches and is no stranger to using fitness trackers in his training.
After three months of using the watch in training and racing, Westbrook told Insider that the Forerunner 935 is “by far the best training tool I’ve ever used.” Below is a closer look at Westbrook’s experiences with the watch to see how impressive it is and if it really is one of the best fitness trackers available.
A mid-size watch with high-end features
The Forerunner 935 is a mid-size watch for the average man and a large watch for the average woman. However, it is light (49 grams), comfortable to wear and equipped with many features. The strap, which is made of a slightly stretchy rubberized plastic, is a comfort upgrade over its predecessor, the 920XT. It also looks great in the dark gray color.
The face is protected by highly scratch-resistant tempered glass, another substantial improvement over the 920XT. The watch offers a battery life of up to 24 hours with GPS activated.
As well as providing real-time information such as pace and distance, the 935 also has a built-in optical heart rate monitor which has proven to be both accurate and fast. This allows you to glance down and get a useful indication of your work intensity. Many runners can also benefit from setting target heart rates, especially for low effort runs where the goal is active recovery and not overloading the body.
The 935 is also 5ATM water resistant and has a fully dedicated swimming mode, capable of keeping an accurate stroke count. Riders will appreciate being able to use it as a bike computer, as it has dedicated outdoor and indoor cycling modes and the ability to connect to ANT+ bike speed and cadence modules. There’s even a dedicated triathlon mode that tracks every step, providing personalized information for each sport, as well as transition times.
It has a built-in barometric altimeter to provide scientifically compelling confirmation that your last run was hillier and more extreme than your friend’s last run, or that your combined elevation gains for the last year would get you somewhere. like the International Space Station. Although it has the flair of some of the best smartwatches, all of these features show that this is a fitness tracker through and through.
It offers a host of fitness metrics at your fingertips
The Garmin Forerunner 935 collects and displays all your training data and allows users to customize the face to show exactly what they want. While running, you’ll want it to display three or four different parameters at once so that each one is readable. For example, you might want lap pace, distance, and heart rate to be displayed on one page. The 935 allows for great customization so you can move your chosen settings where you want to see them and add or remove data screens.
Westbrook loved this feature: “I have one screen that I use most of the time and a second that is available at the push of a button for more interval training specific data, like lap time and distance at ride. Customization is simple and intuitive.”
It is very accurate with and without GPS
Whether on an indoor track or treadmill, the watch retains solid functionality via indoor running modes that use the watch’s precise accelerometers to estimate pace and distance. Although generally less accurate than using GPS outdoors, Westbrook confirmed that the non-GPS mode still provides accurate data to within 2-3%, which is remarkably good.
Many advanced features of the 935 are more accessible after running through the Garmin Connect system, which is available as a mobile device app and web interface. This is where the 935 is unique. It allows a serious runner to really get into data analysis while enjoying a post-run beer while lying down.
The 935 takes heart rate, pace and distance data and combines it with information about your height, weight, age, gender, max heart rate to estimate your VO2 max and lactate threshold, two most important measures of fitness and running potential. It can also tell you how stressful your run was for your anaerobic and aerobic systems on scales of 0-5.
By considering data over time, the 935 and Garmin Connect can tell if your overall workout is productive or unproductive with the workout status feature.
It’s not a perfect watch and has some drawbacks
Most, if not all, of the advanced training features of the 935 and Garmin Connect rely on assumptions and formulas that won’t always produce accurate results. At one point, the 935’s Race Predictor feature, based on VO2max calculations from Westbrook’s running and personal data, predicted he could run a marathon in two hours and 28 minutes.
Westbrook told us, “It was flattering but about 7% faster than the real thing.” VO2 max can only really be measured in a lab environment.
Similarly, even formulas are subject to user-induced errors. For example, it is important to have accurate weight data. Westbrook shared with us a recent experience where the watch told her that her lactate threshold rhythm worsened by a few seconds per mile after a moderate run while pushing her baby girl in a racing stroller through hilly terrain.
“The watch just can’t fix that extra effort,” Westbrook said. “It can only assume you’re having a bad day or getting old, which I’m not.”
With all of the advanced data available that is often most useful for high mileage competitive distance runners who are on the pavement or trail every day, it’s fair to wonder if a new or casual runner should opt for a cheaper model than the Forerunner. 935. It might also be worth considering another fitness tracker, like one of the best Fitbits or one of the best Apple Watches, if running is just one of the many activities you plan to do. TO DO.
While the answer may come down to budget and how much of a runner they want to be, new runners will likely appreciate how well the 935 lays the groundwork for near-instantaneous GPS acquisition, pace, distance and speed. heart rate. When they’re ready, the most advanced data analytics will always be there when they want it.
A beginner isn’t going to outgrow the 935, and the basics are intuitive enough not to intimidate anyone used to dealing with smartphones. The 935 is an investment that pays dividends in fitness motivation and hardcore data.
Unlike other previous models, like the Forerunner 745, the 935 doesn’t have the ability to store music from Spotify or other sources, although that’s not really an issue if you’re already using another device. to this end.
Should I buy it?
Yes. Whether you’re a competitive runner or just want to improve your fitness and cardio, the Garmin Forerunner 935 is a worthwhile investment.
Despite the caveats, the 935 is a racing geek’s dream come true. It works in competition and training, and it offers a wide range of analytics to inform your approach to training. Much like the Forerunner 745, it doesn’t fail to impress experienced athletes.
We asked Westbrook if he would continue to use the 935 after the test was completed. He said, “Most definitely. And I’d buy another one if this one gets lost.”