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Garmin Forerunner 305 Review

My last speed and distance watch, the Polar RS200SD was beginning to get a bit tatty, so I took the opportunity to try out the latest thing in sports watches – the Garmin Forerunner 305.

The forerunner is a massive wrist computer, no chance of wearing it as a day long watch, which is just as well, given that the battery only lasts 10 hrs. It comes in to its own when you’ve finished the run and want to analyse the data on the computer.

The software bundled with the watch is the garmin training centre. It is pretty disappointing actually, and I only use it for programming complex training programs – intervals etc to be uploaded to the wrist unit and for setting courses. Fortunately there are plenty of other available programs to exploit the GPS, heart rate and general work out data. In my mind, the best of these is called SportTracks, it is free and absolutely brilliant. If it weren’t for this program, I wouldn’t enjoy the forerunner even half as much.

garmin 3051 Garmin Forerunner 305 ReviewThis is one of the screen shots, showing the main work out screen. All the numbers are perfectly readable except for the heart rate read out – can you see it in the top right hand corner? I think that is ridiculous! Although there are a number of different views to scroll through, none of them include an enlarged heart rate viewer.

In general I think the Polar RS200SD is a better running watch, at least when you are on the trail. You can switch views easily by bringing the wrist unit close to the chest strap, so no risk of pressing the wrong button. The read out is clear. The pace information seems more reliable – no spurious results, and I can see my heart rate.

Having said that, the polar watch only holds summary data, if you want to know what your heart rate was at any specific point, you will need a watch like the forerunner.

Screen shot 2010 06 15 at 19.32.42 Garmin Forerunner 305 ReviewOne of the other benefits of the Garmin Forerunner 305 is that it has a useful virtual training partner.

Here is one of the possible training partner views. You can either race against your previous best time on saved course or you can set a distance and target time for it to act as a pace setter. I really like this function – I beat my Chiswick Bridge / Barnes Bridge route by 2 mins this morning.

The GPS seems to work quite well, sometimes I can pick up reception from inside my flat but at other times I have to hang around a bit in the park before I set off. I can’t confirm that it holds on to the satellites during my run yet but certainly the route info seems accurate when uploaded into my mapping program.

UPDATE
Thanks to JS for pointing out the fact that I haven’t RTFM well enuff!

“Hi,
In your review, you’ve done the same mistake as me (the ridiculously small right upper corner heart display)
Page 43 of the user’s manual:
You can change nearly all the data fields, it’s a breeze and much more readable!
select Settings > General > data fields; very easy!
js”

Well he is exactly right, you can alter the fields. I’ve now got my heart rate bold as brass and I’ve added average pace as I think that might be more useful particularly when running under cover.

Bargain Alert!

The Garmin Forerunner 305 has recently been reduced and currently retails at amazon for less than £140: Garmin Forerunner 305 with Heart Rate Monitor Garmin Forerunner 305 Review

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

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{ 7 comments… add one }

  • Gord R 9 August, 2006, 7:33 am

    My Forerunner 301 has a lot of problems monitoring my heart rate. Even after wetting the contacts on the heart rate strap and doing everything else to make good contact I only have about 70% reliability.
    Is the 305 more reilable in picking up the heart rate?

  • warriorwoman 10 August, 2006, 10:27 am

    Hi Gord
    The very first time I used the Forerunner 305 was on my bike approximately 2 hours after receiving the unit. I was eager to get out and play and as I result the unit was incompletely charged. I did notice problems with heart rate reception and had to bring my wrist closer to my chest to pick up a reading.

    Since charging the forerunner fully though, I have not noticed any problems at all – either running or cycling.

    I’ve not had a foreunner 301 to compare it to, I’ve used Polar monitors previously and I find them both to be effective. Occasionaly with the Polar monitor I noticed that if I didn’t wet the contacts, the HR reading wouldn’t kick in til I started sweating but I haven’t had this issue with the garmin model yet. If you are more of a glower rather than a full on sweater perhaps you could try the contact gel that is available.

  • Darrell 11 June, 2009, 11:04 pm

    Hey WW,

    The other day I ran around 10 miles and realised later that my Forerunner 305 had merged that run with the one before (short pace sessions 6 days previous). Maybe I somehow didn’t press stop previously or something stupid like that.

    So now, in Garmin TC, I have 16 laps listed all on the same day; comprising of 4 from the pace sessions on Wednesday and 11 from the longer run almost a week later. Any idea how to separate the workouts?

    Cheers,
    D.

  • warriorwoman 23 June, 2009, 12:31 pm

    I’m afraid I steer clear if the garmin TC and edit all my routes in zonefive’s Sporttracks.
    I don’t find TC to be a useful program at all and so can’t tell you whether it will split your route.
    Sporttracks does have this functionality but if you wanted to stick with TC perhaps you could use another GPS utility to split the file and then re-import. Just a suggestion.
    I imagine the problem initially arose because you didn’t press and hol the reset button before pressing start for the next session. Only ever an issue if you don’t upload after every session.

  • Garmin Forerunner 305 Warrior 15 April, 2010, 12:39 pm

    The amount of 3rd party software for the Forerunner 305 is growing all the time with each being better then the last. Don’t let the software tie you down, free yourself and use which works best for you. Google Earth even works now so you can share your route if you like with friends and family.

  • Garmin Forerunner 305 15 April, 2010, 12:52 pm

    @Gord:

    The contacts are an issue no matter which system you go for (including other products outside the Garmin Forerunner range) however the Forerunner 305 has attempted to improve the chest strap. The suggestion would be to ensure the contacts are wetted prior to the activity and tighten the strap a little beyond a comfortable fit so it is snug. Do not worry, you’ll soon forget about it when you are working up that sweat.

    Hope that is of help.

  • Holly 2 May, 2010, 10:22 am

    Thanks for the nice review. Indeed the 305 is a very good watch. Despite some small issues I had with it, it served me well. The good thing is that Garmin keep updating and making all these features better with every new model. The bad is that new models are still expensive.
    Nevertheless, I’m a huge fan of Garmin as the Forerunner simply turned my training into an amazing experience.

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