Review: Garmin Forerunner 210

"After this race, I'm going to treat myself to something. A Garmin, maybe."

How many times have we promised ourselves something for after a challenge, but don't follow through? Maybe that treat, as rewarding as it may seem during intense training, doesn't always feel necessary post-race. Achieving your race goals is so much more gratifying.

Well one day I finally decided to treat myself. Getting a Garmin watch has been on my wish list for a long time, I just couldn't justify the cost, especially when I could use my phone's GPS. The downside to this was watching my phone battery die just when I needed to make a call...

A Garmin, surely, would be a reliable GPS watch - with the added benefit of a heart rate monitor. Runner's World has some great articles on heart rate training, and I really wanted to give this a go.

I shopped around for weeks, comparing different Garmin watches. Why just Garmin? A good question, reader. I usually exhaust all possibilities before a purchase. This particular brand was at the forefront of my mind purely from reputation. Word of mouth, online reviews, magazines, twitter chat. The world seemed in love with Garmin.

I readily allowed myself to be sucked into such powerful marketing. I'm a little sad about this. There's probably a lot of good brands out there and, as I soon discovered, Garmin isn't all that.

Things I love about my Garmin Forerunner 210: 
  • The heart rate monitor. Such a great way to manage your pace. This has been crucial for my recovery runs, when I tend to go too fast. The strap is comfortable and the connection is instant. 
  • Garmin Connect dashboard. A wealth of options to make the most of your Garmin, including goals, training plans, weight loss and routes. 
  • Large, clear screen with different view options, and a light for evening/early morning runs. 
The heart rate monitor is a firm favourite 

Use Garmin Connect on your PC/Mac for personalised training

Things I don't like about my Garmin Forerunner 210:
  • The biggest problem by far is the slow GPS connectivity. If you have a garden where you could leave the watch outside for 5-10 minutes, that might work. If you live in a flat like me you might be standing still, getting cold, for some time as it picks up a signal. This is infuriating. About 50% of my runs I give up and don't get a full, accurate route. 
  • Cost. The Forerunner 210 is at the 'lower end' of Garmin's market and still expensive.
  • Garmin Express seems a little buggy, I've had a couple of problems synching. 
  • Although I like the large screen, the watch is too bulky for my small wrists. The only comfortable way I can wear the Garmin is with a sports band.  This might not be a bad idea as other reviewers have reported condensation in the watch. 
The Forerunner 210 is not a comfortable fit for slim wrists

Add a wristband for a better fit and reduced risk of condensation

Am I glad I bought the watch? I am. It's given me a new dimension to my running. Heart rate zone training, in particular, has been a brilliant experience and I'm having fun learning to pace myself in this way. Am I glad I chose a Garmin? I wish I had shopped around more but, as my first watch, I needed to start somewhere. Next time, I'm checking out the competition.

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