I’ll just come right out and admit it – I love numbers. So that I love my Garmin Forerunner 210 sports watch, should come as no surprise.
The truth is, I can be an emotional buyer at the best of times. When it comes to bigger purchases though, I like to research the heck out of my options. That’s exactly what I did when I bought a sports watch.
I wanted a watch that would give me distance, pace and heart rate as well as the ability to analyze a run afterwards. It was an added bonus that combined with the foot pod and Garmin dashboard I would also get cadence and stride length.
Running for the most part is not an aerobic exercise for me. No I’m not running insanely fast, but I have some lung issues – doctor calls it exercise induced asthma. So where you’re aerobic zone is at 70%-80% of max, I might see that in the first kilometer of a run and never again.
For health reasons it’s important for me to know where my HR is at during a run. Most of my runs are run at 85%-95% of Max HR. How quickly I get to 85% is influenced by many things like what my training looked like in the days before. What my eating plan looks like, how much sleep I’ve had, seasonal changes, heat and humidity are some of the things that could influence HR. Having my HR on my wrist is very helpful to understanding just how hard my body is working.
I’ve used different HR monitors and my Garmin is extremely accurate with one exception. I have to make sure that I wet the chest strap when I put it on. If I don’t, the watch will give erratic readings until the contacts on the strap are wet enough to make proper contact. Then it’s fine.
I know the running routes around our neighborhood very well, to the point where I know without ever looking at my watch, where every 500m mark is. I don’t need my watch to tell me what distance I’ve done. I love though, that I can analyze a run afterwards and look at a breakdown of the pace and speed over every kilometer.
It’s very nice to be able to look at what works for me and not just have to go on what some running expert or elite athlete think running should look like. Not everybody responds the same way and that’s why I like to analyze things.
When it comes to my body, nobody knows it better than what I do and nobody has spent more time analyzing how it responds to different training methods than I have. My Garmin sports watch has allowed me to become an expert on my own body.
The foot pod that was bundled with my Forerunner 210 is able measure distance (for those indoor runs when the GPS doesn’t work) as well as cadence and stride length. Now who on earth cares about stride length? That stuff is for elite runners only right? Wrong!!
Over the last few years my running style has changed dramatically. I’ve gone from being a forefoot striker to being a heel striker (because I was told that’s the right way) and back to forefoot striking.
Changing styles made a huge impact on my stride length and knowing what that looked like, gave me the ability to make some conscious choices about my training.
The Forerunner 210 fits snugly onto my wrist, which is fairly small. After 3 years of regular use the strap is showing no signs of wear. The watch is also water resistant and will be fine if you liked running in the rain. That being said, I still take care to rinse only the strap and not the watch itself after a workout. Using a damp cloth to wipe the watch just makes more sense to me. It’s definitely not meant for swimming, for that you want the Garmin Swim or one of the multi-sport watches like the Forerunner 735XT, the Forerunner 920XT or the vivoactive.
Garmin could have used the screen space a little better and they clearly agreed with me as the next model – the Forerunner 230/235 got a 44% bigger display. I find the display on the Forerunner 210 completely adequate though. The display is simple and the functions easy to use.
It has an interval function that allows you to set the watch on either time or distanced based intervals with time or distanced based rest periods. I would’ve like to be able to select distances in between the 100m increments that are allowed, but it is still a very nice function even with that small limitation.
The GPS on all the current Garmin watches are good. The GPS connects really quickly, although I’ve found that heavy cloud cover as well as lots of tall trees or building does slow it down a bit.
Clearing and Resetting the Memory on my Garmin Watch
Clearing the memory every now and then helps to keep your Garmin quick on loading history items. In the 3 years of regular use, I once had to do a master reset after connecting it to the computer while it was busy loading the history.
Online instructions said to power the device off and then press and hold the Start/Stop, Lap/Reset as well as the Light button simultaneously. As my display was frozen and I couldn’t get it to turn off, I pressed all three these buttons at the same time and after holding for 20-30 seconds, my watch reset!
It wiped the memory as well as my profile, but I didn’t lose any data as I regularly sync with Garmin Express on my computer.
Resetting a Garmin Heart Rate Monitor that won’t function properly
The garmin heart rate monitor module has malfunctioned once in three years of regular use. It would stop reading, or the readings would become wildly inaccurate. To reset the garmin heart monitor module, I removed the battery, and then took two ends of a paper clip and touched it to the two small metal pieces that connect the battery in the module. I’m not sure on the technical specifics as to why this works, but it somehow reset my heart rate module. I have also heard that you can put a battery in backwards for a few seconds to get it to reset, but the paperclip trick worked for me and I have not had any trouble with it since.
All in all the Garmin Forerunner 210 is the best value for money out there. While it has been replaced by the Forerunner 230, you can still find refurbished 210’s on Amazon for as little as $80 (at the time of writing this article).
Garmin has outdone itself as far as I’m concerned with the Forerunner 230/235. As someone who has lung issues though, it is hard not to completely ignore the 230 and jump right to the 235. The reason for this is the wrist based HR monitor on the Forerunner 235 which means no need for a strap around the chest. It’s a huge bonus if that strap makes you feel a little claustrophobic or if you have a problem with allergic reactions to certain synthetics like my sister in law.
The Forerunner 235 got a facelift and a bunch of added features. It now has a built in accelerometer which means you can track indoor distance without the need for a foot pod. The extended battery life of 11 hours in GPS mode means that you can now do an Ultra Marathon like the Comrades (89km) without your watch dying before the bronze medal cut-off time.
The strap design is different as well but still fits very comfortably on a smaller wrist. You can now track your daily calories burned, steps, distance as well as sleep.
If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you might like to consider the Forerunner 735XT. The 735XT is for those who love to be ‘King of the mountain’. It’s the first sports watch that’s compatible with Strava Live Segments. To let you test it out, it comes bundled with a 2-month trial membership of Strava Premium. It lets you focus on chasing those segments by letting you know when the segment starts and finishes and also let you view leaderboard rankings. It’s an absolute must for Strava fanatics.
The Forerunner 735XT is a multi-sport watch perfect for triathlons. It lets you track your running, swimming as well as cycling dynamics and the battery will last a whopping 14 hours in activity mode with GPS as well as optical HR. The VO2 max estimator, the recovery advisor as well as the race predictor are just some of the many added features.
As if all that’s not enough, you can control your music and phone with it and a feature that I won’t appreciate; it can alert you when you have emails, texts or other notifications. My training time is not to be tampered with. Emails, texts etc. can wait a little while.
Another neat little feature that Garmin added to their latest series of watches is their “Wear your personality on your sleeve” feature which allows you to customize the face of your watch. The Garmin ‘Face It’ app is available from both App Store and Google Play and allows you to upload a photo of your choice to the face of your watch.
To get every function possible out of the watch you have to pair it with the HRM-tri monitor that measures added metrics for the three different disciplines. (running, cycling and swimming) At the time of this writing, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is selling for around $450 while the HRM-tri monitor will set you back another $130.
I’m a bit of a gear hound, and while I’m pleased that I’ve gotten this much use out of my watch, I’m also sort of wondering how long before it to quits on me so that I have an excuse to go after one of the newer models that I’ve been salivating over. 😛 Or…maybe my husband will buy me one for Christmas and I can pass the 210 down to the kids!