Saturday, April 29, 2017

New Running Toy - Forerunner 935

This week I started using 2 new toys. This post will focus on one of them.

Garmin Forerunner 935

I have been a Garmin user since, well, eons ago. I used the Garmin Forerunner 201 and the 301 and on and on. I have a lot of units in my arsenal. For training for my first marathon, I bought a Forerunner 630 and have enjoyed using that. When the 735xt came out, I decided it wasn't worth upgrading and I would miss the touch screen of the 630.

I happily used the 630 for training for my first and second marathons. The biggest pain point for me on the 630 was battery life. If my 630 wasn't fully charged, my 20 mile long runs would tax the battery and I did get a low battery warning on it during both marathons. Not a happy thought that my data collector would die on me during a marathon! I always ran with my backup Forerunner 620, just in case. Even though the battery life on that one isn't much, if any, better than the 630.

Anyway, when the 935 came out, I wasn't sure I wanted it. I did want to upgrade, but I was annoyed at the $500 price tag for a watch with an optical HR sensor. I haven't been impressed with optical HR sensors I've used in the past, so that was a gimmick I didn't want or need, since I'd use my existing HR strap. Also, I was worried the optical HR sensor part of the watch would be uncomfortable, especially for something I didn't want to use.

So I went looking for reviews and read DC Rainmaker's review on the 935. If you've never read his review on a fitness gadget you want, you really, really should. He's very thorough. He showed a picture of the back of the 935 with a very flush optical HR sensor. The optical HR sensor would not be uncomfortable and get in the way. That did it for me. I pulled the trigger and put in an order at REI, even though it was on back-order. It shipped the next day. :-D

I ran with it for the first time on Tuesday. A 2.75 mile flat paved run at a local park. I used my regular 630 paired to my normal HR chest strap. I did not pair the 935 to my HR strap. I wanted to see what the optical HR sensor would do. I wore the 935 in the normal watch position and the 630 further up my arm on the same arm.

The 630 paired to the HRM-Run chest strap gives Running Dynamic metrics. That information is provided to the 935 by a tiny pod device that clips to the back of my running shorts. That was an additional purchase. This thing is smaller than a foot pod and just turns itself on and off. No fuss, no muss. I tend to forget it's back there. The watch has a handy feature to remind me to take it off when I finish a run. While the directions say an occasional spin through the wash is ok, it's not recommended and one should take precautions to remove the device from one's shorts.

I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the optical HR on the 935. It was very close to the HR strap. The biggest issue with the optical HR is the fact that it can take a second or 2 to register a change in HR and if you're doing short intervals or hovering around the max HR alarm you've set, it can take a little longer to respond to changes than the chest strap. But when I was running evenly and steady, the HR was comparable. I am starting to think I can get away with skipping the chest strap altogether! Which would be great as the HRM-Run strap rubs me and I have scars from marathon training with it.

While I didn't mean to test this HRM theory, my very next run, I forgot my Foreunner 630 at home. So I bravely set out to run trails with only my Forerunner 935 and the running dynamics (RD) pod. It was fine. The data looks fine. The HR looks great and it kept me from overreaching and running too fast. And it was so freeing not to have that chest strap digging into me!

Believe it or not, on my 3rd run with the 935, I AGAIN forgot my 630. That run I also forgot my RD pod, so I didn't have any of that data for that run, but I'm most interested in the pace, HR and elevation data anyway.

I am actually wearing the 935 all the time. Even while I sleep. The band is very comfortable. I can get the watch snug for the HR reading, but I don't feel like I'm being choked at the wrist. It has been many many years since I've worn a watch when not running.

I've discovered my resting HR is about 59 bpm, which is a good 6 beats lower than I thought it was.

I charged the watch on Monday afternoon as soon as I got it and have not charged it since. I have worn it 24x7 for the most part. I have recorded specific activities with it. I've run 3 times, ridden my horse once and done PT with the other horse several times with this watch. It still shows 54%. I'm starting to wonder how I'll get by when I have to finally charge it up again. ;-)

Although I actually do miss the touchscreen of the 630, the 935 is quickly taking its place as my main running watch.

Garmin's comparison tool for the Forerunner 935, 735xt and 630: Comparison Tool

Of note, the Forerunner 630 is a "previous model," which basically means they're not making them anymore.

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