The Garmin Forerunner 225 – More Bells and Whistles!
Garmin recently introduce their first watch with wrist-based heart rate monitoring, the Garmin Forerunner 225. On the surface, this doesn’t appear to be much more than a bit of a face-lift on the very popular Forerunner 220 (and see my recent review to get a feeling for just how much I enjoyed that watch!) – but there is more to this new watch than you might expect.
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Why Introduce another Forerunner watch?
The Forerunner 220/620 line proved very popular for Garmin – lots of features packed into a very slender package, often to the point where what was intended as a running watch ended up being worn regularly without a second thought.
The Garmin Forerunner 225 takes that popular package in two new and exciting directions (while only being offered in the red/black colors at the moment) – you get the “activity” (step) and sleep tracking capabilities of the devices in the Vivo line, crossed with the wrist-based heart rate monitoring borrowed from Mio.
The Forerunner 220/620 already let you leave your footpod at home (thanks to the internal cadence tracking), this new model to the Forerunner line will also help you ditch one more accessory, offering heart rate tracking throughout your run. Save your run, shower up, and go on with your day – and the FR225 will dutifully go right on tracking your steps, and helpfully prodding you when you have been inactive for too long.
Initial impressions of the Garmin Forerunner 225
This watch has proven every bit as capable as the Forerunner 220. As I get a bit more serious about my training, having the additional heart rate metrics has been interesting – I have to be honest that I am not taking that aspect as seriously as I could be (still just focusing on pace and “feel”).
I did do a little reading online, and have used my average resting heart rate (measured right after waking for a week straight) and my 5K pace max heart rate (measured during the kick at a recent 8K race) to customize the heart rate zones on my watch (via the settings, either on the watch itself or via the Garmin Connect app/website).
I have also taken advantage of the new “page” of data available, using the heart rate zone data (instead of watching my pace) to keep a recent long run truly “easy” (I would love it if Garmin would overlay the heart rate zone information, which appears like a gauge around the edge of the watch face on top of one of the other watch data pages – allowing you to see both distance/pace and heart rate zone on the same screen).
I have caught myself paying attention to steps throughout the day a bit more, but not yet to the point where that truly influences much of my day to day (same for sleep, although it has been interesting to look at duration and quality of my sleep in relation to how the following day’s run went). Having used a Fitbit device in the past, I do have to admit that step tracking will likely remain a novelty data point to me – but I can definitely see how these features can and should play an integral part in an overall fitness plan for many (and I did leave on the “Move” notification, which buzzes my wrist at least a few times during the work day).
Features and functionality aside, the physical body of the watch is also worth mentioning. While the face of the watch is slightly thicker (understandable, given the addition of the heart rate monitoring and likely a slightly larger battery to support the additional power demands), the face is identical in size to the FR220/620 (the same screen protectors I used for my FR220 fit perfectly on the FR225) and the weight is still surprisingly light. The watch band is also slightly different – it is a little thicker in diameter, sports a different perforation pattern, a modified clasp, and appears to be a little different rubber-based material (if anything, I find this band even more comfortable than my FR220 – but have no real complaints about either).
Which watch Should You choose?
This question comes down to personal preference.
I would choose the Garmin Forerunner 225 if:
- You currently track steps/sleep in addition to your runs, but only want one device (or you would like this option in the future).
- You currently train either in part or entirely based on heart rate, and would like to ditch your chest strap (or you would like this option in the future).
- You absolutely, positively must have the newest technology available (although it wouldn’t surprise us if these changes start to spread out to other models – could a 625 be in the works? – or if Garmin offers the pink/white color option in the future).
I would choose the Garmin Forerunner 220 if:
- You are purely focused on pace/distance/time, and can’t see a point where you would really care about things like heart rate or other steps taken during the day.
- You have limited budget, and the recent price drops on the FR220 have you thinking about buying either your first running watch or replaced an older model (I have seen at least $50 off the regular Forerunner 220 prices being advertised).
That said, I chose to upgrade from my tried and true Garmin Forerunner 220 to the new Garmin Forerunner 225 for two big reasons.
- I loved my FR220 (and at its core, the FR225 is still a FR220 with some extras, as opposed to a completely new product).
- I wanted the option to start including other metrics (like heart rate, overall activity level throughout the day, and duration/quality of sleep) into my data gathering as I try to take the next big step with my training and racing.
What has your running watch experience been like? Are you currently in the market, or happy with your current device? Sound off in the comments below!