Disclaimer: I received a Garmin Forerunner 935 Multisport GPS Watch from Garmin to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Premium GPS Running/Triathlon Watch with Wrist-based Heart Rate
Garmin watches. They are well-known to the running community as reliable GPS watches. There are many different kinds of Garmin watches, and the Garmin Forerunner 935 amongst the highest ranks. It is a “Premium GPS Running/Triathlon Watch with Wrist-based Heart Rate” priced at $499.99. Some key facts about the Forerunner 935, from the Garmin website:
- Offers advanced running and multisport features in a comfortable watch you can wear all day, and it only weighs 49 grams
- Provides elevation changes with a built-in barometer; altimeter and electronic compass help you keep your bearings
- Evaluates your training status to indicate if you’re undertraining or overdoing it and offers additional performance monitoring features
- Provides advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming, including ground contact time balance, stride length and more
- Battery life: up to 2 weeks in watch mode, up to 24 hours in GPS mode, up to 50 hours in UltraTrac™ mode (with wrist-based heart rate), or up to 60 hours in UltraTrac™ mode (without wrist-based heart rate)
So, the watch is lightweight (comparable to my Garmin Forerunner 235), fully waterproof (made for swimming), can track running, swimming, and cycling, and has an AMAZING battery life.
It also has a plethora of features, of which I am still exploring, including evaluating your training “status” (over/under training), calculating your VO2 Max, tracking your sleep, the ability to download apps and watch faces, plug in workouts, receive notifications and more (much, much more).
The model comes in all black with a black band, but Garmin and other retailers offer affordable colorful band replacements. I got myself one in a light blue, shown below, though I haven’t changed it yet because I’ve actually been digging the black. It matches everything and looks nice and sleek in any setting (running, work, play).
This review focuses on my thoughts about the Forerunner 935, but for all the specs and technicals, please visit the Garmin site here.
So, my thoughts!
Right out of the box, I LOVE the look. It looks modern, sleek, simple, and it’s NOT huge. In fact, a side-by-side comparison proved that the face is smaller than the face of the Garmin Forerunner 235. This is important to me, because some of the top-of-the-line watches are too big and heavy for my liking (ex: the Fenix 3).
I love that it has my basic requirements for a watch: tracks my runs (obvious one!), is water-proof, has a great battery life, and has built in wrist-based heart rate tracking. These says, almost all watches have it and it’s a feature I desire especially considering I know I will not wear a chest strap. Plus, I have found heart rate to be a valuable piece of information in running, despite my previous indifference to it. It’s also good-looking which, in all honesty, is also a basic requirement for me.
The additional features that it has that I’ve been loving (and that I didn’t have previously with the Forerunner 235) are the training status feature and the VO2 Max feature. Since this watch has countless features, I will focus on a few that I have been using and utilizing in my training and that really stand out to me as a unique feature.
I enjoy the Training Status feature, because I always wonder – am I doing enough?… am I doing too much?… I feel like you may have wondered this as well. So I think this is an extremely useful tool and is easily understood. From the Garmin website:
Training status shows you how your training affects your fitness level and performance. Your training status is based on changes to your training load and VO2 max. over an extended time period. You can use your training status to help plan future training and continue improving your fitness level.
Peaking means that you are in ideal race condition. Your recently reduced training load is allowing your body to recover and fully compensate for earlier training. You should plan ahead, since this peak state can only be maintained for a short time.
Your current training load is moving your fitness level and performance in the right direction. You should plan recovery periods into your training to maintain your fitness level.
Your current training load is enough to maintain your fitness level. To see improvement, try adding more variety to your workouts or increasing your training volume.
Your lighter training load is allowing your body to recover, which is essential during extended periods of hard training. You can return to a higher training load when you feel ready.
Your training load is at a good level, but your fitness is decreasing. Your body may be struggling to recover, so you should pay attention to your overall health including stress, nutrition, and rest.
Detraining occurs when you are training much less than usual for a week or more, and it is affecting your fitness level. You can try increasing your training load to see improvement.
Your training load is very high and counterproductive. Your body needs a rest. You should give yourself time to recover by adding lighter training to your schedule.
- No Status
The device needs one or two weeks of training history, including activities with VO2 max. results from running or cycling, to determine your training status.
So, with all of these different statuses you can assess if your training load is too much, too little, if you need rest, or if you’re right on track. I think that, as always, it’s best to listen to your body, but a lot of times it’s hard to tell what our body is telling us. So, I think this is a really practical, useful, and comprehensive statistic that we can use to assess our training.
The VO2 Max is a little more complicated, but I have also found it extremely interesting and helpful. After all, oxygen plays a huge role in any endurance sport. So what even is VO2 Max? From the Garmin website:
VO2 max. is the maximum volume of oxygen (in milliliters) you can consume per minute per kilogram of body weight at your maximum performance. In simple terms, VO2 max. is an indication of athletic performance and should increase as your level of fitness improves.
The Forerunner device requires wrist-based heart rate or a compatible chest heart rate monitor to display your VO2 max. estimate. The device has separate VO2 max. estimates for running and cycling. You must run either outside with GPS or ride with a compatible power meter at a moderate level of intensity for several minutes to get an accurate VO2 max. estimate.
So, the watch shows the VO2 Max after my run. So far, it has slowly continued to go up, which is a good sign according to the meaning of the number. My personal VO2 Max Has ranged from 50-53. From what I’ve read, elites are in the 60+ range. I enjoy seeing this number to further confirm that I am, indeed, improving. If my VO2 Max were to start lowering, I would know something’s changed. I look forward to learning even more about VO2 Max and ways to utilize this number in my daily training.
As mentioned, these are my thoughts on just a few of the many performance features of the Forerunner 935. Other features include Recovery time, Training load, Predicted race times, HRV stress test, Performance condition, Functional threshold power (FTP), and Lactate threshold – all of which I’ve also found extremely useful and interesting. See details on each of these features here.
Besides specific training features, things I have noticed about this watch:
- Impressive battery life (I’ve charged about once a week at running 6 days per week, and it barely even needs it)
- Easy to use and figure out functions
- Good-looking – sleek, lightweight, watch face not too big
- Screen is easy to read while running in any lighting (back-light for dark runs)
- Heart rate, distance, and other statistics seem accurate as far as I can tell/am concerned
So, overall, I am absolutely loving this device. I think that this watch is perfect for any runner and I would highly recommend it. It is versatile, sleek, performs well, and has (LOTS) of unique features. Though I did get to test this watch through BibRave, I would pay retail price for it and it would be worth every penny.
*I will continue to test the Garmin Forerunner 935 and add any additional comments below this line!*
Do you use a GPS watch while running? What are specific features that you enjoy?