Recommendations on a running watch?

Can anyone recommend an ‘intermediate’ running watch? I’m currently training for my first half marathon and I’ve decided I’m addicted enough to warrant something a bit more useful than my FitBit.

I don’t want to spend a fortune - I draw the line at anything worth more than my car (which is most of them!) - but I don’t want to buy something rubbish.

So far, I’m considering a Garmin Forerunner - possibly the 610 or the 230 - but I thought I’d ask the experts before committing. Does anyone have one and what would you recommend? Thank you!

43 Replies

  • I have a very basic forerunner 10 which does what I need in tracking distance, time and pace on gps. Hubs has the forerunner 235 which tracks heart rate as well. The hr is not as accurate as it could be but some find it useful for training. I keep things simple! When is your hm? I am considering one in April if my ankle improves as I got as far as 10 miles so pretty close!

  • That’s really useful, thanks! First HM is a daft ‘extremely hilly’ trail run at the end of Feb, which I agreed to do in a moment of sheer madness. After that, I want to do a road one so possibly Sheffield in April or Leeds in May. I’m up to 11.5 miles in training now so it doesn’t feel too far away. I’m hoping it’ll keep me motivated over the winter.

  • Well done, at that distance you are almost there! Are you doing the longer run once a week with other shorter runs or some other training method? The hilly one sounds a challenge but you sound ready.

  • I run three times a week - a 5k interval run, a midweek bimble of around 8-10k and a long Sunday one where I generally add a bit on - sometimes 10 percent, sometimes less. I even have names for them all - I call them Fartlek Friday, 10k Wednesday and Sunday Runday!

    I will never be ready for something described as ‘extremely hilly’ on its own Facebook page. There aren’t any hills in York so I don’t usually have to contend with them; I just pretend they don’t exist! 😂

  • Loving the run names! I have been following a programme but might follow my own, similar to what you are doing. Exciting isn't it!

  • What’s the programme you’ve been following? It is exciting! Who’d have thought we’d be this addicted?!

  • I have been following my asics which has different phases. The phases may be slow distances or faster shorter runs, combining distance with going faster etc. It varies in distance and pace quite a bit rather than slowly increasing distance slowly. It has worked for me in the past at 10k and 10 miles but wondered if I should approach hm differently.

  • I’ve not looked at that one. Do you find the variety keeps things interesting? With the dark nights, I can’t vary my routes in the week anymore and I do wonder whether I’ll get bored. I like the sound of the variety from your way.

  • Yes the variety is interesting. I get an email the day before announcing my distance and pace for the next day. It may be worth entering your info and looking at the plan to see if it might work for you, but go for the easy option and adjust the days to your run days. See what you think!

  • I’ll definitely have a look - thanks for the tip!

  • Hi Gaby . I did the Parkrun In York this year and you are right it's flat in York . But we had a beautiful run down by the river. . I can't read my Fitbit once the sweat runs into my eyes. My wife has a basic Garmin I have Tom Tom. At least the numbers are big. Both are good. Mike

  • There's a Garmin on offer at the moment - I think it's the 35 - which is around £125 or so. Seems to do most of what you might need?

  • Sounds good - and cheap! I'll have a look, thanks. Do you know if it allows you to programme interval training?

  • Yes, I think it does. For the money, it's quite good I think. It must mean that they are about to bring out a brand new version of something though because they have lowered the price :D

  • Works for me! I always buy cheap running shoes from previous seasons at a fraction of the price of newer models.

  • Yes, me too! Last season's colour works just fine :)

  • Chances are the first Garmin you buy won't be the last - as you become more and more hooked on this hobby, your expectations of the watch grows. So I'd suggest going with the cheapest that does whatever you currently need. I agree with Anniemurph that the Forerunner 35 might be a good bet. It also does intervals which could become handy if you after the HM want to focus on speed.

    As well as the very hilly one you're signed up to, the Knavesmire Harriers put on a lovely HM in mid January, called The Brass Monkey. Starts and finishes at the race cource. I'm did it last year, it was absolutely great, and am hoping to get a spot this year again when the registration opens on 21/10 at 6:00 am (it will probably sell out by 6:30).

    Good luck with the training, it sounds like you're putting in all the right effort. You'll do great!

  • Thanks, Tomas - I'll definitely research the Forerunner 35; funnily enough, today I discovered a colleague has that one too. I definitely want one that does intervals as the phone isn't much use for that. I'm currently using Week 1 of C25k for intervals by jogging the walks and running hard on the run sections but it's not the most scientific approach!

    Thank you so much for the tip about The Brass Monkey; it sounds like it might be worth getting up at 6am on a Saturday to apply for a place. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you're successful again this year. The opportunity to do a flat one before the mad hilly thing (Harewood House Half) would be wonderful.

    Thank you! I'm certainly addicted. I can't imagine ever not running now. It really has changed my life :)

  • I have a place in the Brass Monkey, having got up at 5.45am to secure it! Hope you got yours too and THANK YOU!!! 👍

  • Yay! That's great Gabby08. Congratulations!

    I did get a place as well, and then when it started getting light I went for a nice 10 mile run with the last 5 km at HM-pace. I feel extremely virtuous now *lol*

  • That IS virtuous! I’m much less so as I’m now sitting in the pub with a pint of real ale and a burger. I’m *saving* my run till tomorrow! 🍔🍟🍺🤦🏼‍♀️

  • Sounds like a perfect way to enjoy Saturday. Enjoy!

    (I might indulge myself for dinner instead)

  • I use a garmin 25 which is basic but it does the job for recording distance, pace and calories and is very easy to use. I sync it with runkeeper.

  • I'll have a look. Can you use it for intervals?

  • I think you can but I've never used it for this.

  • Bite the bullet and go for ForeRunner 235. Great GPS, good heart-rate tracking, good, clear display with options of what data is shown during your runs (I have current pace and average pace, normally - but it is programmable and you can have several screens). But my favourite function is the interaction with my iPhone. The watch and phone are always connected, and I can see at a glance who is phoning, or get a quick preview of any notification on my phone. Also, you can load a training program into the FR235 and set up intervals, or pace targets. I cannot imagine needing anything more than this. And it does not look too "sports watch" or too "child's plastic toy" when I am wearing it. And 5 day battery life with step counts and sleep tracking.

  • That sounds great! Love the idea of the programmable screens, intervals and pace targets plus the fact that they look ok. Sport Direct currently have the 230 bundle at £150 including a chest strap heart rate monitor. Do you know if there's much difference between that and the 235 besides the price? As far as I can tell, the major difference is the lack of HRM in the watch itself but reviews seem to suggest they're generally pretty inaccurate anyway. I'm worried my, er, chest might not be too happy about the chest strap! Ha!

  • My very old Garmin 210 has a chest strap and if the new ones are similar, they are quite comfortable. I am of generous build :D and have never had a problem. It goes just around your chest where your bra fastens, so it goes under the front of mine - not literally underneath it, but it sits neatly below the bottom edge of my bra. I understand that the HRM chest straps are slightly more reliable than the HRMs built into the watches themselves.

  • That’s really helpful, thanks! Maybe the 230 is a winner then...

  • At £150, the FR230 bundle looks to be the one. Strictly, the FR230 is the older model, it was superceded by the FR235, but if you're happy with a chest strap, then the FR230 will be OK.

    DC Rainmaker is the best site for the comparison. Have a look here:

    That'll set your mouth watering. Go get the FR230!!!

  • I love the Garmin235 too. I used a Fr10 for a long time, but the extra features of the 235 make for some really interesting insights. They're quite dear but Amazon has them on flash sale occasionally and I got mine from a German Cycle store for much less than the list price. It's surprising what price you can find if you dig around enough.

  • Sounds fantastic - I'll definitely do some digging. Sports Direct currently have a 230 bundle for £150, which is one of the reasons I was looking at that one! Do you happen to know if there's much difference between the 230 and the 235 besides the heart rate monitor?

  • My watch has an inbuilt optical HRM. It's fine for your everyday monitoring if you're int that, but it's not very good for exercising (which sorta defeats the objective!) unless it's a) very tight b) not restring on the wrist one and c) Jupiter is in the house of Mars. So I use a strap for running despite the inbuilt HRM (the watch detects the strap and switches the inbuilt off).

  • In which case, the 230 might be preferable then? Can’t imagine I’d ever need to know my heart rate for anything other than exercise. If it’s still beating, I’m good!

  • I tend to agree with you. And probably cheaper. Although, I'm sure there are some interesting things the 235 can do over and above the 230.

    It's worth reading reviews of your preferred options on - he's extremely thorough and highlights both good and bad things

  • The 230 bundle is £150 and I can get the 235 for £186 if I order it tonight so price difference isn’t huge but it’s a decent bottle of gin or, more likely, several pairs of really fab running socks!

  • or....... instead of a Garmin you could go for something like a Polar they are cheap or I have just bought a Suunto Sparten Trainer but then I needed more swimming and cycling options on my watch than the just standard running.

    I would suggest staying away from TomTom big rumours they are just about to pull out of running watch market. could look on the 2nd hand running facebook page, it always has decent running watch's up for sale and cheap prices.

    But think of the options you need in a watch. like

    1, Wrist HR

    2. Intervals

    3. Bluetooth to easy upload via phone

    4. phone notifications

    5. tracking, steps sleep etc

    6. cadence

    7. extra metrics - V02 max, recovery time, vertical oscillation etc

    8. extra sports - cycling, swimming pool or swimming open water.

  • That’s a great list - thank you! It’s really helpful in terms of narrowing down what I want. I swim and cycle too so that’s something else I could consider.

  • I have a Garmin 225 and I really really love it. It does loads of stuff and has a HR monitor too :)

  • We have a winner! Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I’m now the proud owner of a Forerunner 235. It arrived today and I love it already even though I don’t know how to use it. It certainly looks snazzy so it’s bound to make me go faster, right?! 😂😂😂

  • Lucky you😄 Found this thread very interesting as I have also been thinking about getting a sports watch. Let us know how you get on with it. Yes, it is sure to make you faster!

  • I’m going to take it for a spin later but I’m waiting for the worst of Storm Brian to clear off first!

You may also like...