Garmin Forerunner 305 Review – The Perfect Personal Trainer
In this detailed Garmin Forerunner 305 review discover the benefits of partnering your workouts with the Forerunner!
All I wanted for Christmas was a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS. And that’s exactly what Santa brought. Actually Santa brought two – one for me and one for my running partner – aka husband. That was over two years ago and I’m still loving my Garmin.
When we decided on the Garmin 305 Forerunner, we were actually researching heart rate monitors. We found that the Garmin Forerunner 305 price was the same as typical heart rate monitors on the market. We knew that Garmin is a very well know, reputable brand for GPS units having already owned one for the car. And when we read the Garmin Forerunner 305 reviews, and found how happy users were with their Garmin’s, we decided to give it a go.
How Does the Garmin Forerunner GPS Work?
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) used to be a bit of a mystery to me until I did my research. With my need for knowledge, I learned more than was necessary, so let me try not to get too detailed, but to explain this in straightforward terms.
The Forerunner 305 comes with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver installed in the watch-like unit. When you turn the Garmin on, it takes a few minutes as the receiver connects (or communicates with) one of the many satellites rotating in our orbit. The user will see a bar running across the Forerunner’s watch face and the unit says “Locating Satellites” until it makes a connection.
Once connected with a satellite, the GPS receiver can figure out “where in the world” you are positioned. The GPS receives latitude, longitude and altitude from the satellite. From this information the GPS can then goes onto calculate other information such as speed, distance, pace, calories burned etc.
The design of the watch positions the antenna with an optimal view of the sky.
Garmin 305 Forerunner: Your Very Own Personal Trainer
Simply put, the Garmin works like a personal trainer giving outdoor athletes real time information about how far and how fast they’ve travelled. It records different data fields – 38 to be exact. Plus, even tells you how to get back to your starting point.
The amount of information that the Garmin Forerunner is able to spit out is no less than amazing. All of which can be downloaded to the computer for monitoring and analyzing. This should just about cover anyone’s training data requirements.
38 Data Fields:
- Heart rate – heartbeats/minute (bpm) (average, lap, zone)
- Pace – current pace (average, best, lap, last lap, zone)
- Speed (lap, last lap, max, zone)
- Distance – distance traveled on current run (lap, last lap, paused)
- Calories – amount of calories burned
- Elevation – distance above/below sea level
- Grade – calculation of rise over run.
- Laps – number of laps completed
- Cadence – revolutions of the crank arm/minute (average, lap)
- Time – stopwatch time (average lap, lap, last lap, paused)
- Time of Day
- Date – current day, month, and year
- Sunrise – approximate time of sunrise based on your GPS position
- Sunset – time of sunset based on your GPS position
- GPS Accuracy – margin of error for your exact location
- Heading – current direction you are traveling
Note that alerts can be set and uploaded to the Forerunner for pace, distance, time, and heart rate, allowing you to achieve better performance out of your workout.
It’s also important to note that the data fields available will vary depending on the accessories you own and the speed units selected for a specific sport. Sport selections on the Garmin 305 are:
A Closer Look
To break it down, here are the 2 main components of the Garmin 305:
- Watch/GPS Receiver coupled with the heart rate monitor. The GPS receiver and heart rate monitor are worn during exercise. The GPS receiver (called Forerunner) looks like a big watch with a generous 1.3 inch display making the numbers large enough to read during exercise. In addition, it only weighs just over 2.5 ounces, so even though the watch unit is on the larger size, it is lightweight enough that you hardly know you’re wearing it.Along with wearing the Forerunner on your wrist, you also wear a digitally coded heart rate monitor (included) during exercise. The heart rate monitor is worn as a chest strap and sends your heart rate information to the Forerunner. With this information easily visible during your workout, you will be able to see whether you’re training too hard or not hard enough.
- Software to track and analyze your workout. Also included with the purchase is Garmin’s Training Center software. With this software installed on your computer, you can hook your GPS unit up to your computer with the USB cable (included) and download the data collected from your workout for further tracking and analyzing.
What To Do With All The Data The Garmin Forerunner Collects?
First you will want to install Garmin’s “Training Center” software (included on a CD) on your computer. Once installed, you connect your GPS receiver to your computer with the USB cable and docking cradle and Training Center will automatically download any activities recorded on your GPS receiver.
No need to download your workouts right away as the Forerunner has enough memory to store up to 1,000 laps.
Training Center has workout analysis tools for reading, analyzing and comparing workouts. The software also lets you create:
|Custom Courses: Create a map for the route you want to take. This option is really useful if you are not familiar with the area.|
|Custom Workouts: This allows you to race against one or multiple instances of a previous workout to see how you are improving.|
|Alerts: Create alerts for pace, distance, time, and heart rate.|
Once this information is created on your computer, you simply transfer the information back to the Forerunner which will then guide you through your workout.
|Garmin Connectis another program that has many of the same features of Training Center. One of the differences being that Training Center runs on your PC and doesn’t need an internet connection, where Garmin Connect does need an internet connection. With an internet connection, Garmin Connect allows you to share your training and route/mapping information over the internet.There are other third party programs that support the Garmin 305 for tracking and monitoring your workouts as well. They all offer different features, so it is a matter of trying them out to see which one works best for you. Typically programs that need an internet connection also have a community of athletes for sharing workouts, maps, and many also have forums, which allow athletes to share information.This is not a detailed list, but just some of the third party programs that I know of that support Garmin 305 data are:
Sample Garmin Connect Map/Summary
What Data Can I View During My Workout?
|The Garmin GPS Forerunner 305 provides three user-customizable screens. Garmin calls them pages. You can view one to four pieces of data on each page, so if you fully utilize each page to output 4 pieces of data, you could potentially monitor 12 pieces of data of your choice. The data you can choose from will depend on which sport setting you have the Forerunner set to. Each of the 3 screens is easy to navigate to with up and down buttons on the side. Although, during my run, I typically find that I stay on one page.Note that the fewer the items that you choose to display on the page, the bigger the displaying numbers will be. For example, if you program one page displaying only your heart rate, the numbers will be big and very easy to read.||
View of the Garmin page showing 3 pieces of data
What Other Sports is Garmin 305 Forerunner Used For?
Although I bought my Garmin Forerunner for running, I have also used it at home and on my travels for hiking, skiing and walking. I really like to use it for the GPS functionality while traveling. Personally, my favorite piece of data is “calories burned”. It really helps me during times when I am trying to lose weight.
The GPS Forerunner 305 can also be used for a variety of other sports. Some of the sports that I’ve heard of it being used for is cycling, triathlons, duathlons, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, and windsurfing.
The Forerunner lends itself well to duathlons and cycling as it has an optional mounting unit lets you swap the GPS watch from your wrist to your bike with a quick release kit. It is very cool. The watch face quickly snaps off your wrist and onto a mounting unit on your bike’s handlebars.
Triathlons may be a bit more of a challenge. Garmin claims that the GPS receiver to be water resistance in one meter of water for 30 minutes.
What Comes in the Box?
My Garmin Forerunner GPS Observations
When I chose the 305, my only concern was its size (a bit big and bulky). After using it for 2 years now – Does the size bother me? Honestly, no. I find it so lightweight on my wrist that I don’t even know that I am wearing it. The size (1.3 inches) also provides a bigger screen to read. I think that if it was any smaller, I would have a hard time reading the information on the face (my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be).
The Forerunner has been somewhat of a challenge to learn, although I can’t blame that on the Garmin. It’s just me getting used to new technology and learning to use it. It has ALOT of features to discover and learn. I have now found the features and data that I use the most, learned them and stick with them. Writing this Forerunner 305 review has been a good reminder of the features that I’ve forgotten about.
What Else Should I Know?
The battery is a rechargeable internal lithium-ion battery. The manual states that the battery lasts up to ten hours. That means if you leave it turned on after your workout, there’s a good chance that the battery will be dead by your next workout. I try to keep mine charged up after every run or two.
The Forerunner also doubles as a basic navigator. You can mark your starting point at a specific location, see your current position on the plotter display, and follow an electronic breadcrumb trail back to your starting point. Very cool!
There are two auto features worth mentioning:
- Auto Pause stops the time when you slow down or stop, then automatically resumes when you speed up so no need to keep stopping and starting the watch
- Auto Lap records your data at preset intervals (from an uploaded workout) so you never have to punch the lap button.
Garmin Foot Pod – For those that want to use their Forerunner 305 for indoor use, here is an optional foot pod accessory for purchase. The foot pod fits to the running shoe, either on the inside or the shoe lace and measures speed, distance and running cadence.
Garmin Quick Release Kit – The quick release lets the Forerunner GPS receiver to be popped off the wrist strap and can be quickly attached to the handlebar mount your bike to collect data during cycling. The quick release kit includes the handlebar mount and wrist strap with quick release head unit.
What Are Other’s Saying
You can read the reviews for yourself and you’ll be sold. Customers who have bought it, love it! Based on the Garmin Forerunner 305 reviews on Amazon, it has received an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Here’s what some customers are saying:
“I had hoped that owning this device would prove motivational for me, and indeed it has. I can’t imagine running or biking without it.”
“It’s my personal trainer now and I really love it.”
“I work at a Running Store and out of all the Garmin’s, this unit is the easiest to use.”
“For my open water swimming, I put it in a little zip lock bag under my cap.”
“After much research, I realized there was no better GPS/HRT for the price. Nothing comes close in reliability, functionality, and price.”