Garmin Forerunner 220 – A Review

If you’re marathon training without this watch, you’re missing out. The new Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS running watch is the most effortless part of training for 26.2 miles, that’s for sure.

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

I was skeptical about upgrading to a new watch. My Garmin 405 was working ok. Yes, it sometimes took 15 minutes to grab a satellite, but it did grab one. Yes, it was a pain to go between functions with a touch screen and button combo, so much so that I NEVER went between functions. And, yes, the piece was so bulky on my wrist that the first thing I did after every run was to take the watch off and carry it in the palm of my hand rather than wear it another second. But all of this wasn’t that big a deal when you’re faced with a $250 watch purchase. That’s not cheap. And spending $250 when you still have a functioning watch, albeit a 5 year old piece of technology, didn’t seem reasonable.

And that’s when my Garmin 405 decided to die, right before a long run no less. At the time I was upset. It happened on a blazing hot run that was turning out to be a disaster anyway, so the watch was the last straw. Also, in addition to now having to quickly replace this watch in time for an imminent long run, I didn’t appreciate having to learn all the new tech of the new watch when I just didn’t have time for that sort of thing.

The thing is… the Garmin 220 is a DREAM. And by that I mean, you know how in your dream scenario your watch would just do everything it’s supposed to do and you wouldn’t have to learn anything new at all and it would anticipate your every command and it would love you and be your best friend and make you an ice cream sundae after each run while listening thoughtfully to how you felt about your run??? Yes, my friends… this watch does all that. Forget the advent of the iPhone. I haven’t been this happy with new tech ever!

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220 – Run Display

When I first opened it, I tossed the watch aside so I could get to the unpleasant task of reading the huge instruction manual. Only there wasn’t one. Hmm. Weird. It basically said – plug it in, charge it, and if you want to run, turn it on and select run. Uhh okaaaay… But where’s the bit about grabbing satellites? Where’s the bit about configuring the screen to display pace, time, distance? Well it doesn’t need you to do that. You literally push the “on” button and it immediately asks you if you want to run. Then the screen pops up with pace, time and distance and you push “start.” And guess what? The satellite is already on lock! BEST IMPROVEMENT EVER! I can’t tell you how much of a pain it is to wait on those satellite grabs when you are in south Florida getting bitten by a thousand bugs per minute! It always started me off in a bad mood. Not anymore!

The band is very flexible and lets me get a better grip around my wrist than the seemingly fewer notch adjustments of the 405. The watch face is extremely thin too so you don’t feel any weird balance on it. Oh and you can set it to beep and/or vibrate at different intervals, such as if you are off-pace in either direction or when you cover a mile. I don’t know if it’s set to alarm at every mile as a default or if I accidentally set that up but that’s what mine does. Every mile and there’s a buzz and a ring. At first I was slightly annoyed by this because I didn’t want to be informed of every single mile of a 17 mile run, for instance. But my run team group loves this feature and they practically cheer every time they hear the bell. It’s pretty funny so I’ve left on the chime/vibrate. It will probably cheer me up to remember things like that on the marathon.

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220 – Summary Display

Lastly, when you are done with your workout, the Garmin asks you if you want to dismiss the data or save it. I mostly always save it. After you hit “save” it gives you a one screen data report of your run. I love this feature. Before, you had to unlock the watch (The 220 doesn’t have lock or unlock because it doesn’t need to. You won’t mess up anything accidentally with this watch.) and then go find your data recap piecemeal. Not only does the 220 immediately feed it to you, it also tells you all the personal records you broke on your run. For example, it might tell you that you ran your fastest 5k, or that you ran your longest distance, or you ran your fastest mile. This is just the sort of cheer-leading I need after a run. It may sound trivial but pretty much everyone I’ve talked to about this says they love this feature too. Runners get it.

The Garmin 220 is a great watch. It’s so effortless to use and it has every function you could want for running. You may think you don’t need a new watch, but if you have the money to go get one of these, you won’t be sorry. It will make your runs that much easier. And in marathon training, anything to make your life easier is a good idea.

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