Running Gear: Five Things I Love About Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

Garmin Forerunner 220

I have to admit. Took me three attempts before I could bring myself to buy the Garmin Forerunner 220. It wasn’t as much the absolute dollars (though ~250 bucks ain’t no chump change), but just the thought of splurging that much on a watch made me kept canceling my Amazon order. Maybe because I’m gear averse, but the Garmin Forerunner 220 turned out to be well worth the price. It started when I paced my cousin at the Quarry Lakes Marathon. I was using my iPhone with Strava and when we crossed the finish line at 4:45, the phone was just about dead. So my main motivation was to track my running for these longish routes and saving my iPhone battery for the pictures.

 Garmin Forerunner 220

Just like any gear, the Garmin Forerunner 220 has tons of features, most of which I, of course, don’t use. But here are five things I love about it.

1. Light Weight

The first thing you realize when you wear it is that this watch is light. At 1.4 ounces, you can hardly feel it on your wrist during the run. Of course, it doubles as a regular watch too and it looks like it’s almost time to retire my good old Timex that’s served me well all this time.

2. Battery Life

After I finished the Fort Ord 50K at 6:03 last month, I still had over 40% of the battery left on the watch. With an expected battery life of about 10 hours, it’s a good motivation for me to finish the Lake Sonoma 50M next month before my watch dies on me. 🙂

3. Mile Alerts

You can configure the Garmin Forerunner 220 to alert you every mile (Auto lap alerts) so you have an audible indicator reminding you to do something. If I am running with my Nathan 22oz handheld, then it’s a good time to swap hands so that my arms don’t get fatigued. Unfortunately, the annoying downside, if you are running a road marathon, is listening to everyone’s GPS watch simul-beep on each mile marker. I suppose it’s better than the loud, computer-generated, motivational messages you occasionally hear on trail runs (true story!). If you need to hear a ‘You got this’ or ‘You are doing great’ on mile 2 of a 30K, I just don’t know what to say.

4. Pace Alerts

The Garmin Forerunner 220 allows you to set minimum and maximum pace on a run. Personally, I only set one or the other depending on the run. After going out way too fast on the Fort Ord 50K, I figured it’s nice to be reminded if I’m running too fast. Or if you are doing hill repeats and never want to get slower than a certain pace, you can set that one too. Be warned though that if you configure both and the slow/fast pace thresholds are not that far apart, you are bound to be hearing a lot of beeps. I recently ran ~20 miles with pace alerts set to 8:00 – 8:15 min/mile and it worked great on the flats. But the moment you hit a stretch with some elevation change, the beeps would start every 5 seconds until things leveled off.

5. Run/Walk Alerts

This is pretty awesome, IMHO. On the longer runs I set this to 40 minutes of running and 5 minutes of walking, to remind me to ingest a Clif Shot Gel and a Succeed S Cap to keep the electrolyte levels up and prevent carb depletion.

Do you own a Garmin Forerunner 220? What are your favorite features?

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