Spring is in the air and that means that its time to get active again – at least for those of us who chose to hibernate during winter. Whether you’re an unfit newbie just wanting to get into shape, or a hardcore triathlete striving for perfection – strapping a dedicated personal coach to your wrist helps to make training all that much easier. Here’s the low-down on which Garmin Forerunner GPS watch trainer works best for you.

Fitness metrics: Jargon you need to know

VO2 Max
When paired a heart rate monitor, VO2 Max estimates the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute per kilogram of body weight when going flat out.

Recovery time
This feature estimates your state of recovery following a run, and operates in a countdown mode until the next session.

Recovery check
Provides a real-time assessment of your recovery in the first few minutes of a run.

Race time prediction
Helps give you an edge by providing a predicted finish time on race day.

Get Connected

All Forerunner models in the range sync with Garmin Connect, the nav giant’s online training tool. Apart from being able to download your runs and see them on a map (along with all your relevant bio stats), you can also design your own workout or get a free training plan. Once done, you then simply upload it to your device to get real-time coaching on pace, time and distance when on your next run.

Choosing your Garmin Forerunner

Activity alert! Winter, with its long cold nights, hearty stews and expanding waistlines is history. Mother Earth has once again turned her southern hemisphere towards the sun, and even our politicians have to agree – spring has officially sprung. Thankfully, most of us aren’t politicians. If you’re a nature lover, especially one intent on getting into shape, you probably don’t need a committee to determine what this season of new growth has on offer. You can feel the urge in your body: It’s time to get outdoors, stretch those stiff, dormant tendons and shed the extra pounds accumulated over the big chill.

As far as your health is concerned, I bet you’ll be voting with your feet.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure
Starting any new training regime can be an uphill grind, that’s a given. So is the fact that without having accurate, reliable data showing where you’re at, there’s no way you can realistically assess your fitness levels. And if you can’t do that, how do you expect to ever coherently plot your way forward towards a more healthier you?

Granted, you could always just push yourself too far, then collapse in a puddle of sweat like they did in the old days – the rational being you gotta be tough and push through the pain. But what’s the point in that? Pigheadedly pushing oneself beyond what the body can handle is a major cause of sport injuries. As a training strategy this isn’t much fun. Not to mention the most effective way to turn novices off exercise fast.

It makes much more sense to pace yourself, while paying attention to (and acting on) your body’s cues. That way, you not only end up setting realistic speed and distance goals, but achieve them, too. Here’s another plus: By taking pressure off yourself, you also get a chance to enjoy the experience – smell the roses, so to speak. It’s a win win situation. Not only do you get fitter at a pace your body can handle, but your exercise regime starts becoming a healthy lifestyle choice rather than a begrudged chore.

Run with Forerunner
This is where Garmin’s Forerunner range of running GPS watches come to the party. These amazing location-based gizmos track all your vital running stats in real time at the simple press of a button.

Apart from telling the time, features shared across the range include high-end GPS receivers (that can penetrate deep foliage etc.) and respectable water resistant ratings. They also share a common interface, making all models easy to use once you’ve mastered one.

To help keep you moving while going about your day, all models come with a nifty activity tracker – reminding you to get off your behind when you’ve been sitting too long. This feature also captures your steps and general daily activity, even when you’re not running.

As you’d expect, each progressive model adds more sophisticated measurement and feedback options than its lower-spec sibling to suit more demanding performance levels – ranging from the raw novice right up to club superhero. So if you’re considering getting one, I suggest you first check out the features of each individual model – bearing in mind your level of commitment to training – before deciding which one best suits your needs. – (c) 2016 NavWorld

Here’s a break down of the entire Forerunner range to help you decide which one works best for you:

The newbie’s best friend
Forerunner 25

If your notion of running around the block involves kicking it back under the bed once you’re done, then even Garmin’s simplest unit – the Forerunner 25 – isn’t for you. Jokes aside, if you have committed yourself to a healthier lifestyle and want to start training, then the basic Forerunner 25 has a lot to offer.

Features include:
• Time, distance and pace tracking
• Heart rate-based calorie consumption
• Auto pause (stops when you stop running, restarts again when you do)
• Auto lap
• Virtual pacer (steering you back to your target pace)
• Heart rate monitor and foot pod compatibility

The Forerunner 25 is thinner, with a 32% larger display compared to its predesessor, the Forerunner 15. It also comes with Smart Notifications – a feature that, when paired with a compatible device, allows you to receive text, email and call alerts on your wrist, to mention a few.

Price: R2,999

Buy Now

Get your groove on with the
Forerunner 230 and 235

That the Forerunner 230 appeals to you indicates you’ve already started to take your running seriously. You can receive audio prompts for lap times while listening to music, a boon for those battling boredom on a long run. Vibration alerts for time, distance, calories and heart rate also encourage you to train more efficiently.

Other cool features include:
• VO2 Max assessment
• Recovery analysis
• Race time prediction
• Automatically syncs with Garmin Connect via smartphone
• Smart notifications (see email, text and other alerts on the larger screen)

The Forerunner 235, apart from being 1 gram heavier, is almost identical to the 230. Its only upgrade being Garmin Elevate – a wrist-based heart rate technology that forgoes the inconvenience of you having to wear a separate HRM (heart rate monitor) belt.

Price: R4,099 (Forerunner 230)
            R4,699 (Forerunner 235)

Buy Now (FR230)

Buy Now (FR235)

Hardcore road warriors
Forerunner 630

Committed distance runners, those unashamedly hooked on endorphins, will most probably covet the Forerunner 630 – if it’s not strapped to their wrists already. Featuring impressive second-generation running dynamics wizardry, it allows you to review data such as your stride length and ground contact balance. It even tracks physiological measurements such as your lactate threshold and stress score, helping you better monitor and manage fatigue levels.

Other must-have features include:
• Ground contact time (how long each foot spends on the ground opposed to in the air)
• Cadence (number of steps per minute)
• Vertical Oscillation ratio (the degree of ‘bounce’ in your running motion)
• Capacitive touchscreen (works in the rain and with gloves)

Price: R6,199

Buy Now

Multisport maniacs
Forerunner 920XT

Geared specifically towards triathletes and the super-fit, the Forerunner 920XT is the most advanced multisport GPS watch in Garmin’s stable to date. As a consequence, it boasts all of the features described in previous models, plus a few more.

Dedicated features include:
• Metronome (provides cadence training for running)
• Swimming features (drill logging, rest timer, distance, stroke type/count, pool lengths)
• Pairs with HRM-Swim and HRM-Tri heart rate monitors

Pricing starts at R6,999

Buy Now

The ultimate outdoor trainer
fenix 3

For demanding athletes and outdoor adventurers, the fenix 3 is a must-have tool. Packed with all the high-end Forerunner features you’d expect, such as advanced fitness metrics and running dynamics. This top-of-the-line device also features dedicated swim/ski/snowboard modes, each with their own detailed performance metrics. And, as it’s geared for the great outdoors, it takes on a number of functions more commonly found in a handheld navigation device.

Survivalist features include:
• Barometric altimeter (for height and weather info)
• Electronic 3D compass and temperature sensor
• ANT+ wireless capabilities and Bluetooth Smart connectivity
• Wirelessly shares tracks, waypoints, routes and paperless geocaches
• Remote control for the VIRB HD action camera
• GPS and GLONASS satellite acquisition via EXO antenna
• Smart features (including music control and ‘find my phone’)

Pricing starts at R6,899

Buy Now

About The Author

Sean Woods

Originally a photographer for the Star newspaper in the bad old days, Sean Woods turned to writing after the first democratic elections in '94. The career shift paid serious dividends, culminating in him becoming associate editor for Popular Mechanics magazine with a number of technology writing awards under his belt. His interests include anything to do with boats, motorcycles and all those fancy tech gadgets that help the modern world go around.

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