One of the most important (and only) pieces of gear that a runner needs is a watch. Both beginners and professionals alike need them to time their runs. Watch prices can range from $10 all the way to $500! I started out with a cheap $15 digital watch in my freshman year and used it to time my basic 30 minute runs with the stopwatch feature, but when my coaches started wanting me to track my mileage, I realized I had absolutely no idea how far I was actually running. After much research, I settled on the Garmin Forerunner 15 and purchased it for $125 at my local running store.
Let’s be honest, technology is expensive! Especially if you’re looking for a GPS watch that uses satellite to track your mileage. But it’s completely worth it! In fact, this is one of the cheapest watches that will accurately track your mileage. After one and a half years of usage, I’ve learned everything about this watch and have uncovered both its perks and disadvantages.
- They come in a huge variety of colors! I had a hard time choosing between teal and purple, but they also have blue, black, red, and green.
- There are different sizes of the watch interface. The men’s watch has a slightly larger screen (but obviously you can buy it if you just want larger numbers on screen).
- It’s water resistant which is super helpful during rainy runs and when washing it if it gets sweaty (which it totally inevitable).
- It’s super easy to use. The information guide is very explanatory and there are limited features that keep it from being confusing.
- The watch strap will fit any size of wrist. Honestly, my wrist is like the size of a 5 years olds and I can still adjust it smaller than I have too. On the opposite spectrum, the strap adjusts large enough to be the same size as a chihuahua dog collar, which is typically larger than the average wrist size.
- It has pacing features that you can set. For example, you can input 7 minute miles, and the watch will beep to notify if you are running too fast or slow. Similarly, you can set a goal of a 20 minute 5k, and the watch will beep to keep you on pace. If you first mile is too slow, it will adjust to give you a faster pace. This is super helpful during tempos!
- It’s very durable. I’ve owned this watch for over a year and a half and tracked over 700 miles with it, and it still operates like new! Not once has it broken or glitched out.
- There’s no stopwatch feature! This is the most frustrating part because stopwatches are so basic! Instead, if I’m timing intervals, I need to wait for GPS to sync before each one, and delete the data after each interval since it only has a memory of the last 5 data pieces. This sucks if I’m trying to time my rest, so instead I normally GPS my entire workout including rest and do a lot of math afterwards. It sucks because I don’t get a specific time for each rep.
- It’s pretty thick, it measures about ⅓ in. in width; unfortunately though, this is pretty common for all GPS watches but it’s still very noticeable and gets caught on my clothes at times.
- The GPS takes a while to sync. Again, although a feature of many other watches, the sync time where I live (PNW) can take up to 5 minutes which is not ideal if you are running with a group and you have to make them wait for it to sync. You have to remember to start syncing it during your warmup.
- The battery life decreases dramatically in cold weather. When not synced, the battery life will last for days, but when synced it’s a lot different. In normal weather, the synced battery lasts about 3-4 hours, but in winter in temperatures below 40 degrees (F), the battery life is about 1 ½ hours.
- You don’t know when it’s fully charged. When you plug it in, a large triangle appearing on screen but doesn’t tell you the battery percentage, so I normally leave it plugged in overnight until I know for sure it’s charged up, however this is a waste of electricity.
Overall, the Garmin Forerunner is a budget friendly option for those who want accurate mileage and something very easy to use, however it doesn’t have a stopwatch feature (!!!!). Fortunately, Garmin watch models are constantly being updated so hopefully sometime in the near future they will fix this! This is a great watch for beginner runners and those not looking to track intervals and workouts as such, but more serious runners should overlook this model 😦