Data nerd

I am, it has to be said, a little bit envious of runners who can just run off into the distance without an app tracking their distance, pace, heart rate, route, weather and wind speed. WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT AFTERWARDS ON YOUR PHONE 

Yeah. I find my stats motivating. Most of the time.

I started off using MapMyRun which is popular for a reason: it good. I still have it installed & my current kit syncs with it, as well as Strava and MyFitnessPal. (I should probably have more data sharing concerns.) Anyway, after using the app for a while I bought my first Garmin watch a few months later. Started with the Forerunner 10, then moved onto the Forerunner 15 when I wanted to track my daily steps more. I went fancy with a 225 a few years later, and then last year after Manchester, I treated myself to a Forerunner 235.

here it is

Not much of a difference, except a cool black & white colour scheme. What I mostly wanted from this was wrist-based heart rate, because I do like keeping an eye on the heart rate even though I don’t really do HR zone training. Also each new model of Garmin is getting sleeker and less like a 1987 Casio throwback, presumably due to increased competition – I wear the watch constantly, so I have to like the way it looks. & this is hot.

technical bradycardia

There are hundreds of kit reviews already floating around the internet: this one is probably the most comprehensive and is what I pored over whilst trying to figure out which Garmin model I wanted. I’ll keep mine short & basic:

Good points

  • fast GPS lockdown
  • bluetooth uploading
  • Accurate heart rate measurement (it was consistent with an exercise ECG I had, & both I & the medical staff were impressed at the accuracy)
  • Good nerdy in-depth stats like training effect, race times predictor & VO2max estimates. I don’t get full use out of some of this data because I don’t know why I need it, but it’s nice to have
  • Charges quickly

Improvement points

  • Very short time between ‘low battery’ indicator and no charge left
  • Bluetooth connection can be a bit random sometimes


  • smart notifications – I don’t reeeeally care about getting texts or calls whilst running, & forgetting to mute an active group chat before going on a long run is incredibly frustrating. Setting off for a long run always seems to reactivate a dormant group chat and my arm buzzes once a minute until I start to hate all my friends. I find this feature much more useful when I am not running, such as if my phone rings at work.
  • recovery advisor: advises too much recovery for my lifestyle & training level, and I’m not sure what metrics it’s based on anyway.
  • training plans: I see people using this function and I am interested/envious. I don’t really do intervals outside, but maybe I would if I planned a training plan into the watch
  • sometimes stops syncing with Strava for no obvious reason (general Garmin issue, rather than this specific watch, but still annoying)
  • the app is not very intuitive sometimes

I do stick with Garmin because I’ve got an app full of comparative data going back years now, but they are good quality watches & I haven’t seen a make or model that I’d like better except Apple. The fancier models look good, especially the ones that play music, but they are expensive & I wouldn’t be running without my phone anyway, so I don’t see the need for it.

But yeah, stats are motivating. I like seeing the map of where I’ve run. Strava QOM challenges can get quite heated, whether it’s within GFR or that random stranger who cycles down my street faster than me. But mostly, if I have a bad training session, I can see it adding to miles in the bank anyway, or just compare back to when I first started running & see how much better things are now.