I was lucky enough to get a new Garmin for Christmas. The Garmin 235 replaced my old Garmin 110 which had been with me since I started taking running more seriously at the start of 2013. It was a great watch and did everything I needed. I have to admit here that I never used a lot of the functions such as training modes, but it tracked my distance, splits and pace and that was enough for me. The 110 also came with a chest heart rate monitor that I used twice. I hated wearing it and decided I would just have to run by feel and forgo heart rate measurements.
When I heard about the 235 I thought it was awesome. It could measure heart rate via the wrist strap and I decided it would be my next watch. Well, my husband decided that would be happening much sooner than I had planned, and I’ve been wearing it for the last month or so.
This is what really sold it for me. It can measure your heart rate but you don’t have to wear an annoying (at least to me) chest strap. Because this is the first time I’ve ever monitored my heart rate while exercising (and because I am a huge nerd), I am completely obsessed with all the new data. You can probably find other reviews that talk about the accuracy of the HR monitor, but personally I take it as a pretty good but probably not perfect estimate of my HR.
For each run, I now get my elevation, pace, HR and cadence.
You also get a measure of other aspects related to your heart rate. Here for example is what percentage of each run you spent in each zone (from easy to all out), which reminds me of the couple of workouts at Orange Theory Fitness. Basically, Z1 = warm-up, Z2 = easy, Z3 = aerobic, Z4 = threshold and Z5 = maximum. This particular run felt on the upper end of easy, sub-tempo but still working. This is also how my long run looked on Saturday.
One on my aims is to have my recovery runs all green.
And this is how my tempo looked.
I’m still figuring it all out but it’s a good reminder to keep easy days easy.
You 75also get a couple of other pieces of information related to HR. One is a training effect number. This can range from 1 to 5 and gives you some feedback on how that particular run affected your training as a whole. A number greater than 3 but less than 5 indicates that you are improving. A 5 means that you are probably over-reaching.
You also get a recovery time which is dependent on your training effect number i.e. a hard session needs a longer recovery time. Not rocket science but still interesting.
Because of the HR monitor you also get a better estimate of calories burned per run. This has actually shown a lower number for me (my old watch was guessing 90 calories per mile, but now it’s about 75).
The 235 can also act as an activity tracker and can continuously monitor your resting heart rate. This has shown me that I have a pretty low resting hear rate – about 45 bpm which I’ll probably mention to my doctor at my next annual checkup.
The 235 also tracks your steps (including those from running), which I didn’t know about before I got it. It will initially set your steps to 10,000 and then alter it for each day depending on your activity levels. It’s a nice reminder to move a little more each day. You also get a vibrating reminder to move if you’ve been inactive for more than an hour.
Can you figure out my rest days?
I’ve found the GPS acquisition to be significantly faster than the 110. You can also sync your watch and phone so that you get text message and other alerts (these can be customizable) on your phone, and use bluetooth to upload your data via the Garmin connect app. It comes with a USB connector that I personally find to be easier and quicker for uploading data but the bluetooth seems to work pretty well.
The watch itself is more intuitive to use than the 11o and has a color screen. It is smaller and I’ve been happy to wear it as a normal watch.
You can get some interesting data too. For example, it gives a VO2 max score and uses this to predict your race times for 5K, 10K, half and full marathon. I have no idea how accurate this is but for me, the more numbers the better.
I’ve also been getting a measure of my cadence which I’ve never had before. This was something that I worked on with my PT who encouraged shorted strides and it’s nice to see that I’m usually close to 180 steps per minute.
The 235 has two options for running: indoor and outdoor. In my opinion the outdoor works just fine. My usual routes are measured correctly and I feel the pace is pretty accurate too. But indoors all bets are off. The tracking is way off with a treadmill. For example, a treadmill run of 7 miles translates to just 6 with the watch. I know treadmills can be a little off but that seems a little too much. Also, a treadmill pace of 7:13 (8.3 mph) will only register as 8.33 min/mile using the watch. After using it a bunch of times inside I feel like this feature is just not accurate and you should just stick with the treadmill data.
I love this watch. I don’t think I’ve taken it off since I first got it and think it’s a great combination of GPS watch and activity tracker.