Garmin Forerunner 235 Review
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Garmin Forerunner 235 Review

This Garmin Forerunner 235 review has been written after 6 months of use; including 500 training miles and in multiple races from 5k to marathon. The Garmin 235 first game into my running life just as I received the email confirming entry into the Brighton Marathon. Excellent, I thought, what better way to test such a device than putting it through the rigours of training for my first marathon! Garmin Forerunner 235 Review - £222.72 Look and Feel Garmin Foreunner 235 The FR235 doesn't exactly smash the barriers of running watch design, with it's rounded watch face and plastic strap. In fact it's confusingly similar to the Forerunner 225! The colour scheme is ok - I had the black-with-hints-of-red option and it's subtle enough to wear throughout the day as a regular watch. This watch is comfortable! Believe me, I've worn it for days at at time, asleep in bed, in 20 mile training runs in the pouring rain and for the duration of a crisp, dry April marathon. Not  once has it felt uncomfortable  or obviously 'there'. I did notice that to get the most accurate data from the integrated heart rate monitor, it was necessary to tighten the strap to the edge of comfort. I was happy to do this during shorter speed sessions and up to 5k and 10k distance but felt the need to keep it a little looser on longer runs. Features and Specs This is not the most feature-laden watch around but what it does, it does very well. You can read all the features here, you don't need me to list them all out! The most useful features of the FR235 are: Good battery life (up to 11 hours in GPS mode). I've used the watch for repeated long runs and through the day without having to recharge. Even on the one time it showed a battery warning, I still completed a further 4 miles running before having to plug it in. V02 Max estimate - useful for benchmarking fitness gains. Heart rate monitor (wrist based) - does give a good indication of heart rate, allowing a good level of heart rate based training. This is useful when doing effort based training where you can use the heart rate output as well as how you feel to gauge how taxing  your pace is. Customizable screens - I found this very useful in making sure the info I needed was easily viewable. Current pace - I have used a lot of running watches and would say the standout feature of this watch is its accuracy in showing your current pace. This has been invaluable when following training plans that require pace changes or a focus on a certain pace. Smart notifications - these were a welcome surprise! It's hard to read messages in full but useful at a quick glance to see who's texted/emailed/WhatsApp'd you! You need to be connected and close to your phone for this to work. I…

Verdict

Look & Feel
Features & Specs
Connectivity & Data
Battery & Charging

Great!

A feature packed watch which does the important things very well. Excellent GPS signal and accurate pace and easy upload and charging.

User Rating: 1.86 ( 47 votes)
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Rob Murray
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Rob Murray

Rob is a self confessed running geek, obsessed with all things related to the sport, whether road, track or triathlon.
Rob Murray
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This Garmin Forerunner 235 review has been written after 6 months of use; including 500 training miles and in multiple races from 5k to marathon.

The Garmin 235 first game into my running life just as I received the email confirming entry into the Brighton Marathon. Excellent, I thought, what better way to test such a device than putting it through the rigours of training for my first marathon!

Garmin Forerunner 235 Review – £222.72

Look and Feel

Garmin Foreunner 235

Garmin Foreunner 235

The FR235 doesn’t exactly smash the barriers of running watch design, with it’s rounded watch face and plastic strap. In fact it’s confusingly similar to the Forerunner 225! The colour scheme is ok – I had the black-with-hints-of-red option and it’s subtle enough to wear throughout the day as a regular watch.

This watch is comfortable! Believe me, I’ve worn it for days at at time, asleep in bed, in 20 mile training runs in the pouring rain and for the duration of a crisp, dry April marathon. Not  once has it felt uncomfortable  or obviously ‘there’.

I did notice that to get the most accurate data from the integrated heart rate monitor, it was necessary to tighten the strap to the edge of comfort. I was happy to do this during shorter speed sessions and up to 5k and 10k distance but felt the need to keep it a little looser on longer runs.

Sma

Features and Specs

This is not the most feature-laden watch around but what it does, it does very well. You can read all the features here, you don’t need me to list them all out! The most useful features of the FR235 are:

  • Good battery life (up to 11 hours in GPS mode). I’ve used the watch for repeated long runs and through the day without having to recharge. Even on the one time it showed a battery warning, I still completed a further 4 miles running before having to plug it in.
  • V02 Max estimate – useful for benchmarking fitness gains.
  • Heart rate monitor (wrist based) – does give a good indication of heart rate, allowing a good level of heart rate based training. This is useful when doing effort based training where you can use the heart rate output as well as how you feel to gauge how taxing  your pace is.
  • Customizable screens – I found this very useful in making sure the info I needed was easily viewable.
  • Current pace – I have used a lot of running watches and would say the standout feature of this watch is its accuracy in showing your current pace. This has been invaluable when following training plans that require pace changes or a focus on a certain pace.
  • Smart notifications – these were a welcome surprise! It’s hard to read messages in full but useful at a quick glance to see who’s texted/emailed/WhatsApp’d you! You need to be connected and close to your phone for this to work.

I didn’t really use:

  • Any of the training features. I tried all of the goal orientated workouts and they could be useful if you like being regimaentally directed by a watch.
  • The interval training is good but again, personally I like to be in control of my training session, using the watch as a tool rather than an instructor.
  • Pace alert was useful but got a little demoralising when it was constantly telling me I needed to speed up!

Full features and specs here

Connectivity + Data

Garmin Connect mid-sync

Garmin Connect mid-sync

The ease of uploading your activities to Garmin Connect is a real bonus for the FR235. My first running watch required the use of laptop, wires, ANT+ USB sticks and software. The FR235 makes connecting and uploading activities very easy. It’s fully Bluetooth enabled, so can connect immediately with with the Garmin Connect app on your mobile device. I’ve had instances where my latest run has been uploaded and receiving Strava ‘kudos’ while I’m still doing stretches on my front porch! My wife (who’s also a Strava user), yells ‘good run’ to me from the living room whilst I’m removing my trainers! It’s not a question – she’s seen my stats before I have.

There have been a few problems where the Forerunner 235 doesn’t connect to the the Garmin Connect app. Usually this can be sorted by opening and closing the app several times in quick succession. Sometimes, it involves a duel restart of the phone and watch, which seems to reset the connection between the two. Once, I had to do a master reset of the watch, by switching it off and then holding down the power button with the ‘lap reset’ button for 10 seconds. I’d only recommend this as a last resort though as it wipes all of your settings!

Charging

With every Garmin I’ve tested, comes new and different attempts at charging – some more successful than others. The FR235 has, what can only be described as a crocodile clip, to connect the watch to the mains. It’s good; stays in place, easy to attach and the watch itself charges fairly quickly.

Garmin Forerunner 235 power cable. Image courtesy of DC Rainmaker

Garmin Forerunner 235 power cable. Image courtesy of DC Rainmaker

Buy the Garmin Forerunner 235 from Wiggle at a discounted price of £222.72

If you want a really, REALLY detailed examination of this watch, go to the always awesome DC Rainmaker

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Author: Rob Murray