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This Garmin Review is sponsered by the number Cinco

Last night I did some yoga to center my chi, and it felt great. I realized I need to stretch more! This morning I ran 3 miles and did another 25 minutes of yoga and I am really feeling good lately. No soreness and I’m starting to feel a little prepared for San Diego Rock and Roll. I have my last 20 miler this weekend so after that I’ll be on the taper road. Happy Cinco De Mayo to everyone, I’ll be watching the Biggest Loser tonight, nothing crazy! I know you all want to know what I think about the Garmin so here you go!

I was always told that I needed to get a Garmin. No one could ever really tell me why though, and to be honest, I’ve only used it in a pretty basic way thus far, but I plan to use it and all the different settings as I continue to learn more about it myself. Therefore I warn everyone, this is a very basic overview of the Garmin and it’s capabilities. I am still learning myself and I will post about any other great features as I learn about them. Honestly, I’m quite happy with just the simple way I use it now, so I know there’s more things out there, but at the same time, I like to keep it easy and simple.

I was an avid Nike+ user, but was starting to see an issue with it’s mileage tracking once I started to hit higher mileage. I ran a 25k (15 miles) and my Nike + told me I ran 17.86 miles. That’s when I knew that the mileage was off. I had calibrated it numerous times as well. Also I had gone through around 5 or 6 Nike pluses because of calibration issues and the sensors randomly dying or not being able to connect. I had heard about many people’s love for the Garmin, but no one could ever tell me why it was so fantastic. I did hear that it will change your running and racing a lot though.

I finally started researching the Garmin family and decided that I wanted to get the Forerunner 305. I decided on this one because it came with a heart rate monitor and seemed to be less expensive since it’s an ‘older’ model. I researched the 305 on Ebay and craigslist and found one for $130 with free shipping that was brand new. Finally the box arrived and the Garmin was mine. The first rule of having a Garmin is that it must have a name. I named mine Claude and he is the star of the Garmin Review.

One really cool and very accurate thing about the Garmin and that makes it much better than the Nike plus is the fact that it tracks you by GPS satellite. This makes your miles accurate and the mileage is an option that you can show on the Garmin’s screen when your running. Here is a picture of the Garmin’s Screen

This is the front of the Garmin. The setting I use it on shows the time in the top screen, (18.55) and the bottom two screens are split into two different modes. On the bottom left you can see my pace (20.42) and the mileage that I’ve gone thus far (2.06 miles) The buttons below, on the left is the lap/reset button and on the right is the start/stop button. It’s pretty easy to use and the face is obviously very large and visible. You can change the settings to see different ‘modes’ but I only use this mode thus far. There is another mode to show how many calories you’ve burned as well as mileage, time etc. In the upper right hand corner, if I was using the heart rate monitor, that is where it would say what my heart rate was as well.

This is the side of the 305. The arrow buttons change the modes on the front while you are working out. You can see that the 305 is pretty thick and bulky, but I haven’t had one problem besides a few adjustable ones and you get used to it. I will discuss the only ‘downfall’ towards the bottoms in the pros and cons section.

This is the underside and as you can see it straps on with a simple watch band. The band is plastic and it stays put fairly well. It is a very large band though and I have oddly small wrists.

This is the back of the Garmin. The numbers are my serial number and the four dots on the back are where the Garmin is charged from. The Garmin plugs into the computer for charging or the wall plug and charges quickly and easily.

This is the Garmin next to a pen. You can see how thick it is. I realized after I uploaded this picture it’s somewhat of an optical illusion though since the pen is so much closer to the camera. Epic Fail. You can see how large it is in the next picture though.

It is pretty basic as a ‘watch size’ but it’s fairly large in bulkiness. It’s very thick and the curve doesn’t fit on my wrist well, but I have had some other people wear it and try it on and there were no problems at all for them. I think possibly it’s because of my wrists and the bone I have on the outside of them that sticks up.

That bone can be easily rubbed raw and scabbed by Claude, that is why I choose to wear my Garmin up a little bit higher or sometimes I wear it on the inside of my wrist to stop chaffing.

A lot of people run and race without any type of tracking system but I have been very pleased with the Garmin, but it is nice that I can track my mileage, pace and overall distances run. It’s also great because it maps out the path you took on your run/walk since it has the trackability feature from the satellite.

I really liked how easy it was to use directly out of the box. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t really delved into the Garmin and really figured out everything on Claude, because it’s so simple and easy to use just how it is now. It stays charged for a long time (supposedly 10 hour battery life) and I’ve only had to recharge it once since I’ve gotten it.

To start the Garmin, once you are outside, just turn it ‘on’ via the on button on the right hand side and a screen will pop up with a progress bar that lets you know the Garmin is ‘locating satellites’. This is the only annoying thing about the Garmin. Sometimes it ‘locates’ the satellites immediately and other times, for me it takes up to two minutes. Once the satellite is found you hit start and your workout is started.

I really like the calorie counting feature but the Garmin uses speed traveled — not heart rate — to calculate calorie output on the Forerunner. It doesn’t bother me that much though and I even think I like that more since I haven’t used the heart rate monitor yet, nor do I want to have to wear the heart rate monitor to find out how many calories I’ve burned.

Another cool feature of the Garmin is that once you have a few courses you like, you can save and race against them, marking points along the way. You can set up interval workouts with specific distances or time or repeats. You can also use the GPS navigation feature to see your path on a map once you upload your workouts and you can save locations you want to remember — and find your way home if you get lost. (Would have been a good tool for my friend LA Runner when he was lost on his Skyline to Sea 50k) :)

Another great thing that I like is the fact that the buttons are easy to use and you don’t have to go through them all to find one thing, i.e. the start and stop button. It has an auto-pause feature that stops the timer when you stop moving and restarts again when you get going — great for stoplights and water breaks.

The only problems I really have with Claude is that is doesn’t really like my wrist bone and that I can’t really get it to easily work with my Mac computer at home. I am going to have to spend some time with that to find a fully functional way to upload data to a website so I can view it no matter where I am. I have a website to check out, but I just haven’t had the time to sit down and work with it for a while. Also this may be weird, but there is no clock that I have found that you can ‘show’ during your workout. I guess this just means that I have to look at the clock before I leave on my run and then just add the time gone to know what time it is, but it’s a little strange.

The Pros:

Easy to use, no set up needed, can use the ‘normal’ functions and still understand the product, a lot of features that I haven’t even discovered, available with the heart rate monitor, not as expensive if you search, large display, possibility to update workouts to websites, long enough battery life, different modes, GPS tracking system which means accurate distances, looks better than the 301 that looks like a giant black twinkie, charges via usb

The Cons:

No exactly the most chic accessory, not many color options, not really kosher with my Mac at home (but I’m working on it), no clock

I will definitely continue to learn more about my Garmin and will post. I’m sure I’ll get many comments telling me lots of other ‘great features’ but honestly, I like it just the way it is! I thought it was a little expensive, but now that I have it, and if I was truly training to get speedier I can see how it would be very helpful in determining my pace. I did a speed workout last week and I did find myself able to hold my pace for much longer because I knew how much was left and exactly how fast I was going because of my Garmin. It’s a great training tool and I am really glad I did purchase it. It’s worth the money and overall thus far I would give it a A-grade! I will let you know if anything sway my opinion of the Garmin anymore, including more discoveries.


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  • Reply Holly

    I *love* my 305, I think it's better than the 405. Oddly, I haven't named it. ;)

    I have a suggestion that might help you! I wear a wrist sweatband underneath mine:

    Hope you can see that. This makes it more comfy AND no sweat dripping down your arm. This might help your bone problem! :)

    And also, it took me MONTHS to figure out that you can change the screens and you can put "time of day" on one of them. I was always annoyed that it wasn't a "watch" but now I have one of my screens set to that if I need to know what time it is! :)

    May 5, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Nicole

    nice review girl!

    i used to have the twinkie looking garmie back when i was in HS. that puppy didnt hold a charge and would lose satalites ALL- THE- TIME!

    Sice i've updated to my 405. I <3 it and its TOTALLY worth the $$

    Happy Tuesday

    May 5, 2009 at 10:54 am
  • Reply h-bomb

    I just got a 405 and loves it. gps rocks. i haven’t had a problem with my mac. i downloaded garmin’s software that they make for a mac on their website. but i’ve been using and you can import your forerunner info directly to it. i like their charts more than garmins.

    May 5, 2009 at 10:58 am
  • Reply Ms. V.

    great review!!

    i may have to look into this…blut i LOVE my little Big 5 watch!

    i think i would look like a cow with a computer on her wrist!

    May 5, 2009 at 10:59 am
  • Reply Hi! I'm Erin

    I’m so happy I got a Garmin for Christmas. I ended up with the 405 because my husband (who bought it for me) declared that the 305 was too large for my wrist. Okay, whatever.

    I agree that there are so many options that it will take time to make them all work well for you. I’m like you, though, and just have it set on a pretty basic setting. Good enough for me!

    I love knowing my average pace while I’m running. I love that when I finish a mile it pops up a little screen that tells me how long it took me to do that mile. I love not having to map out a route before hand in order to know how many miles it is.

    I need to figure out how to “race” against myself using my regular running routes. That sounds like fun!

    May 5, 2009 at 11:02 am
  • Reply Shannon

    Great review! I’ve been thinking of getting a Garmin, but I’m waiting on my Nike plus to die first. I love my NikePlus.

    May 5, 2009 at 11:14 am
  • Reply PunkRockRunner

    Great review! I love my Garmin 205 but now I wish I had the heart rate monitor too. Oh well.

    Enjoy the SD taper! You’ve earned it.

    Take care,


    May 5, 2009 at 11:16 am
  • Reply Sassy Molassy

    I have the 305 as well, although I would LOVE to have the 405. My watch ALSO does not like my wrist bone too much. Sometimes it will even leave bruises. But I dooo love the functions of the watch.

    The downfalls for me is the amount of time it takes to hook into a satellite sometimes and its bulkiness.

    Sounds like you’ve really figured out some of the extra features that I haven’t even dived into and I’ve had my watch for about 2 years!

    May 5, 2009 at 11:32 am
  • Reply Denise

    My “mode” button stopped working. Not sure what to do, my garmin isn’t that old!!

    May 5, 2009 at 11:35 am
  • Reply Danica's Daily

    Great review, Danica! I LOVE my Garmin (it’s a different version from yours), but, it is a great motivator on longer runs. You’d be surprised how many times I race the “virtual” runner just to beat that little character and watch him fall in defeat :)

    May 5, 2009 at 11:38 am
  • Reply Marge

    I want one BAD. Dang it…

    I wonder if the newer ones work better with a Mac and if they show calories burned based on HR if you are using the monitor? Those would be two critical things for me.


    May 5, 2009 at 11:39 am
  • Reply Marlene

    All hail Garmin!

    I only use mine for the most basic functions as well, but STILL could not live without it.

    There's a new model coming out this year which is almost the same as the 305 bu THINNER!

    Unfortunately it's WAY expensive because it's waterproof.

    May 5, 2009 at 11:47 am
  • Reply LyndsAU

    i might have to invest in one of these once baby comes :) i think that would keep me motivated and help me keep pace :) Thanks for sharing the review girl!

    May 5, 2009 at 11:51 am
  • Reply Alisa

    Nice review!

    I love my 205, I can’t go running without it now.

    Also, just recently, I learned how to change the screens around and use the “workout” features. It does have a regular clock, you just have to know where to look =).

    May 5, 2009 at 12:00 pm
  • Reply Kristen

    Ohh, love my 305 too!! Although I do feel like I am wearing a computer on my wrist.

    Don’t know what you meant by “no clock.” If you mean for it to show the actual time of day it does. I have my front screen show the 3 things you have plus the actual time of day. Sorry though if you meant something else.

    May 5, 2009 at 12:00 pm
  • Reply The Shabby Princess

    Thanks for the review!! I want one!!

    May 5, 2009 at 12:12 pm
  • Reply Kristin

    I have the 405 and I cannot run without it! I used to run with the Nike+ but I was so OCD that the fact it was logging false miles made me crazy so I just quit using it until I got the Garmin. I also have really small wrists and it’s super hard to get it to stay where I want it.

    Oh, I just saw someone say they wear a sweatband underneath it…good idea!

    May 5, 2009 at 12:14 pm
  • Reply NY Wolve

    I hope you love the 305 — I have had issues with my 405, as I vented about on my blog recently!) I love the data, being able to see, and compare workouts, all add a new dimension to training and running.

    May 5, 2009 at 12:31 pm
  • Reply marie

    I had the SAME problem with my nike +, which led to my 205 purchase (breaking up with Lance was so hard to do).

    My Garmin takes a lot longer to find a satellite, though. I live in the centre of a fairly large urban area with large buildings and garmins kind of suck in those conditions…even says so in the manual. I probably should have read that first.

    May 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm
  • Reply NY Wolve

    I hope you love the 305 — I have had issues with my 405, as I vented about on my blog recently!) I love the data, being able to see, and compare workouts, all add a new dimension to training and running.

    May 5, 2009 at 12:45 pm
  • Reply Tara Gibson

    great review! I just may have to invest in one : )

    May 5, 2009 at 12:46 pm
  • Reply Amber

    Thanks for this great review, I’ve been seriously considering getting a Garmin but have been wary of shelling out the money for it.

    Maybe it’ll be worth it!…

    May 5, 2009 at 12:49 pm
  • Reply Stuart

    You know you can change the rotating screens to include a clock or press mode and there is a little clock there as well!

    Nice pen!

    May 5, 2009 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply Casey

    Claude seems like he’s a jerk to your wrist bone. I’d hate to think that you’d have to start putting on lube before you run!

    I have a 405 and love it. Never had a 305 but everyone seems to enjoy theirs!

    May 5, 2009 at 2:07 pm
  • Reply L.A. Daze

    I have this one as well, and I love it! It does have a clock though :)

    And yes, it’s a pain in the butt to sync it up with a mac. I had to download some other programs to get it to work. Meanwhile, BF gets cool little graphs and all that on his PC.

    May 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm
  • Reply Amy

    Oh, I have that same wrist thing, with the little bone sticking up!

    Thanks for the thorough review. I’m thinking about getting one for my birthday in about a month, but for spending that much $$$, I want to get the “right” one. So, thanks! :)

    May 5, 2009 at 2:26 pm
  • Reply Oz Runner

    i agree with all your Garmin comments, and i love my 205!

    May 5, 2009 at 2:55 pm
  • Reply FLYERS26

    Welcome to the Dark SIDE!!
    I love my 405. I have no idea how I ever ran without one.
    Only downside to the 405, is the bezel is very sensitive.

    May 5, 2009 at 3:26 pm
  • Reply Lauren

    Great review. I currently use Nike+ and so far so good…. however my husband thinks the distance is off too, but I’m not sure… thanks for the garmin review, i’ve always wondered about them. :)

    May 5, 2009 at 3:32 pm
  • Reply RoadBunner

    I was going to write about the clock, too, but seems others have pointed it out. I don't "waste" a field on the time so just hit the mode button and the time is at the bottom of the menu. When I first got it I didn't know that, and someone stopped me while I was running to ask for the time. I felt like an idiot when I told him that my hunky-huge watch didn't tell me the time!

    I haven't really named mine. I call him Garmin. Garmin the Garmin. But I was a kid who named stuffed animals Elephanty, Puppy & Beary.

    May 5, 2009 at 4:11 pm
  • Reply Billy Burger

    How dare you. ;)

    May 5, 2009 at 4:19 pm
  • Reply Angry Julie Monday

    I love mine too.

    Although I’m kinda mad at his this week. I think I need someone re-program mine. I jacked it all up..

    May 5, 2009 at 4:21 pm
  • Reply littlesack

    I LOVE MY 305. It is FANTASTIC! welcome to the wagon.

    i still don’t know all the functions yet too, but like what it can do so far.

    i havent named mine yet…good idea.

    ps- i have a bony wrist too, so i wear mine above that bony bump

    May 5, 2009 at 5:17 pm
  • Reply Marci

    I just traded up my 205 for a 405. Hubs has a 305 he likes, I’ll let you know about the wrist band. Thanks for the review. I am a basic function user as well!

    May 5, 2009 at 6:39 pm
  • Reply Merf

    Being the nerd I am, I love my Garmin 305. I also love my Mac and have few problems downloading the data from my Garmin. But, I must admit the data is more user-friendly on the PC. However on the web is fully functional. There are three customizable screens with up to four fields there is always the time of day on mine.

    May 5, 2009 at 7:48 pm
  • Reply joyRuN

    Excellent thorough review!

    I love love love my Garmin 305. I was so depressed over the weekend when i thought I'd lost it, & ecstatic when I finally found it.

    My fave feature is being able to set my intervals in there. Makes the speed training so much easier.

    May 5, 2009 at 8:13 pm
  • Reply Mrs. G.I Joe

    I definitely want one of these for my birthday, hopefully I’ll be running far enough to justify the cost by then:p

    May 5, 2009 at 8:32 pm
  • Reply AKA Alice

    I also LOVE my 305. Like Holly, I wear a thin wrist sweatband underneath mine so that it doesn’t chafe or move around. I have pretty boney wrists too! I picked mine up at a race expo…you know the big vendor that sells just about EVERYTHING? (hats, gu, belts, socks, cheap glasses. They’re at just about every big-race expo I’ve ever been to). I bought a lime-green one from them.


    May 5, 2009 at 9:06 pm
  • Reply PDawg

    Man, now I want one too. Crap. I’ve just started running and I’ve been using the GPS in my iPhone… so big fat iPhone on an armband… not sure how long that will last. Gonna have to start perusing the ebays for a Garmin. WANT.

    May 5, 2009 at 9:31 pm
  • Reply Sheila

    I just want to comment about your remark that the mileage on the Garmin 305 is “accurate”. Uh, sorta.

    It’s pretty good. It’s more “accurate” over longer distances than over short ones. It really can be a foot or more off from figuring out your actual location at any given point in time. It generally overestimates the distances I run on races. The last marathon I ran, it measured the distance as something like 26.53 miles, rather than 26.2. Part of this is because it is measuring your lateral movements, any weaving you do on the course.

    When I go up to Mount SAC to run speed workouts on the track, I manually push the “lap” button for my laps, rather than trusting that the “workouts” will measure the correct distance of 400 m for one lap, or 800 m for two laps. etc… When doing speed intervals, seconds count, and I want accurate distance measurements, and the satellite never gets it right, even if I run on the inside of lane 1 the whole way.

    So take the whole “accuracy” thing with a grain of salt. But I do accept the mileage reported by the Garmin for my long training runs.

    Enjoy! I’m using Garmin Training Center software right now for my Mac. The Windows version is much better than the Mac version. I’m kind of looking for other things I might like better, but so far haven’t spent all the necessary time to investigate and test and try options out (still kind of in the investigation mode).

    May 5, 2009 at 10:52 pm
  • Reply Sheila

    In regards to the wrist bone comments… I wear mine with the face of the watch on the inside of my wrist. It’s easier for me to look at the face of the watch that way when I’m running and it doesn’t hurt the bone on my wrist.

    May 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm
  • Reply Meredith

    My husband and I share a 405. He pretty much wears it for all workouts and I wear it whenever Coach gives me a specified tempo workout. I think it’s great for pacing, but I prefer to just wear a watch for anything else, especially racing.

    May 6, 2009 at 4:45 am
  • Reply Michael B

    love my 305 as well. the only problem with using it is that i can no longer cheat “up”…when i used to finish running at 5.8 miles i’d call it 6….19.9, i’d call it 20. can’t do that anymore. oh, well. see you in sd! with caramel mallow

    May 6, 2009 at 5:30 am
  • Reply I Love Your Whole Face

    There is a clock on the 305 but you have to hit the mode button on the left hand side. It takes you back to the main screen and there is the clock, but it is kind of a pain. I love, love, love my garmin. I have had it for 2 years and it is still working!!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:25 am
  • Reply Marcy

    Ahhhh yes love Garmin. It’s the shiznit!

    May 6, 2009 at 6:43 am
  • Reply Chad in the AZ Desert

    Great review! I have that same version of the Garmin and love it.

    May 6, 2009 at 8:27 am
  • Reply Nobel4Lit

    Great post! I have a 405, but I think the 305 would be a more useful tool if I cared about tools more than I did the size.

    May 6, 2009 at 8:53 am
  • Reply Brandi

    Great post! I want a Garmin so bad!! I am using the Nike+ and waiting for it to crap out on me. It’s getting there slowly but surely. I’m hoping the hubs sucks up and buys me one soon! He’s been rating them and looking for deals online. :) I always sing the Garmin song from the commercials around Christmas… I’m weird, I know this.

    May 6, 2009 at 10:37 am
  • Reply Morgan

    Thank you so much for your review! I too have been an Nike+ girl and been debating the switch over to Garmin after being frustrated time and time again with the calibration issues! Happy Running!

    May 6, 2009 at 10:53 am
  • Reply Island Girl Eats

    I have just order the 305 and can not wait to receive it. I preferred it over the 405 as the face was bigger. I am a bit blind!

    I myself run with the Nike+ and am currently on my third one. The first two were fine – they just dies a natural death! The one that I have right now is terrible. It literally adds miles to my runs. I would love to think that I have run more than I actually did, but deep down I know the truth! I wonder if Nike is having a problem with them?

    May 6, 2009 at 11:24 am
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