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Gear Review: Garmin Forerunner 620

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Let me start this review by letting you know that I’ve been using a GPS unit since I started running seven years ago. I’ve tried almost all of the commercially available models and brands and don’t see a reason to go out for a run, ride or swim with recording it and obsessing over the metrics.

Recently, there have been some major advances in the single activity GPS enabled monitors and I was psyched when Garmin agreed to let me test its top of the line running unit while I finished training for and ran the NYC Half.

Welcome to the world of the Garmin Forerunner 620.

I was impressed with how light and small it was. I’m used to something a little bulkier and when I strapped the watch on I barely noticed I was wearing it. Aside from how light it was, I was super impressed with how fast it found the satellite link! I live in New York City. Manhattan to be exact. And the buildings around me as I make my way to Central Park are anything but small. On a good day my GPS takes about five minutes to lock on a sat feed. When I strapped on the 620 and ran out the door, it found in less than one minute.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-19-at-5.06.09-PMColor me impressed.

But that’s the least of it. The unit also has smartphone Bluetooth syncing for wireless uploads. Once you’re in range of your wi-fi, the 620 will upload all new data. And, if you have a smartphone and use the Garmin Connect app, other people can see where you are – like live. You know what this means right? No more paying for apps from the major races you run.

The 620 does everything you’d expect it to do – it has a heart rate monitor, gives you pace data, lap data, total time, intervals. You can add workouts and run against a virtual partner, basically everything you seen Garmin offer on past models. But here are just a few of the things it does that I wasn’t prepared for.

When I finished my first run, the unit beeped after a few minutes and surprised me by telling me how long I would need to rest to be fully recovered from my last workout. And if that wasn’t enough, when I uploaded the data to Garmin Connect, I noticed a new metric on the screen. Turns out Garmin added a metric for figuring out your VO2 Max and if I may brag, mine seems pretty decent for an old man.

Garmin produced this slick video that explains it better than I can<

The other set of data that Garmin added to this watch are the Running Dynamics offerings. This is a group of metrics that includes Vertical Oscillation (simply, how much you bounce), Ground Contact Time (self explanatory) and Cadance. Now the cadence feature isn’t new like the others, but with the launch of the 620, Garmin started counting cadence for both feet and now uses the new HRM Run monitor as opposed to the foot pod.

The last thing I want to talk about is a function that is part of the V02 Max Estimator and Recovery Advisor, the Race Prediction feature. I wasn’t sure how hard I was going to push myself in the 2014 NYC Half, the weeks leading up to the race weren’t great for me in terms of running. I’ve been busy with work, it’s been cold and I’m not alone in being sick of this winter weather. All this to say I wasn’t planning to PR.

Sometimes as a runner, all you need is a little push to get the confidence you need to get the job done.

When I saw this:

I decided to go for it. And while I didn’t hit the mark that Garmin set for my race, I did take 3:02 off my best time. I reviewed the race here.I’m looking forward to seeing how I do with the New Jersey Marathon now that the weather is warming up and I can be more consistent with my training.

1 Comment

  1. You had me at Vo2Max!! Wow, the new features sound amazing, the race predictor is very cool, too. I have a Forerunner 405 that I've used for 5 years and it's nearing the end of its days, I think. I've had lots of issues with it over the past couple of months. I'll definitely look into the 620 as a replacement option.

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