Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Watch Review

Posted: May 9, 2011 in Reviews, Running Gear

MSRP: $199.99

The Garmin 305 comes chock full of features.

Star rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Pros: The watch offers detailed training information on anything you can think of that pertains to your run — including your running pace, location, lap pace, calories burned and heart rate — and you can connect the Garmin to your computer to record and chart all of your data. The watch also tracks your information for cross training activities such as cycling or walking. The Forerunner 305 comes with a chest strap to take heart rate readings.

Cons: This watch has so many features and options that it can be overwhelming and take a while to navigate the programs. Also, because of the GPS system, the battery runs down pretty fast so you will need to charge the watch every few days and turn it off shortly after running. Sometimes the GPS feature is slow at picking up your location, especially on cloudy days, and the GPS does not work indoors.

Runner: Marnie Kunz

It took a while, but my Garmin and I have finally become one. I have been using the watch for months, but only for the basic timer, pace and distance readings.

I was excited to get the watch for Christmas and learn about everything it could do, but the options were almost too overwhelming at first. After a few runs with the watch in winter’s bitter cold, I had to put my Garmin away for a while and pound out my runs on the treadmill. I got along pretty well, as I’d been running with just a basic timer watch for years. I tried the Nike+ Sportband a few months prior to the Garmin, which was my first experience with a device that measured my mile pace.

Coming from a youth spent running with the old-school method of using a stop watch to clock my runs, and often estimating my mileage based on my total running times, having a pace feature on a watch is a delightful concept to me. So for a while, I was content just to know my speed for each run with my Garmin.

I did play around with the features and created a workout to follow, but when it came time to run, I could not find the workout to implement. But this is probably partly due to my bad memory and sometimes sluggish tech skills. I do, however, think the average person would also have some trouble navigating all of the Garmin features, especially at first.

Besides using the Garmin to record my run pace and mileage, I have begun using the lap feature. The lap button is very helpful when training people or for running intervals or tempo runs, as well as checking the calories burned reading.

I tried running with the heart rate monitor around my chest but found it unflattering — shallow, I know — as well as confusing, because I did not know my maximum or target heart rates, so the numbers meant nothing to me. So I ditched the chest strap. I’m sure the heart rate monitor is a helpful feature if you train using your target heart rate or if you have a health condition to monitor.

You can sync the Garmin with social networking sites such as the Dailymile, which I have done. I often do not have my wire handy to connect my watch to my laptop, however, and usually just manually enter my Garmin reading on Dailymile.

The Garmin 305 still has many more options that I haven’t used — from offering a virtual trainer to compete with and keep you on track to mapping your runs — but I will continue to try them as I get more coaching clients and begin marathon training.

Overall, I would recommend the Garmin Forerunner 305 for tech lovers, serious runners concerned with their detailed stats and runners who want a comprehensive watch with a heart rate monitor system. Also, if you are already a Garmin user and accustomed to the Garmin system, the 305 should be a smooth transition. If you are easily overwhelmed by new technology, a treadmill runner, unconcerned with your pace details or interested in saving money, I would recommend getting a basic sports watch instead, or trying the Nike+ Sportband for a cheaper, more streamlined pace watch. I plan to continue using my Garmin and consider purchasing a new one when this one dies. Once you have access to all the features the Garmin offers, it would be hard to go back to a simpler watch. R.I.P. stopwatch.

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