Garmin Forerunner 945 - Once The Honeymoon Ended
Now I've had this thing strapped to my wrist for months, how's it all going?
I've been using the Forerunner 945 for over 2 months as of the time of writing. Now I've had a chance to get over the new shininess off it, how's it holding up? Is it all rainbows and rosebuds?
I won't go over the watch features again, you can find details on those in my First Impressions post.
Things I'm Loving
Starting with the positions, what am I still loving about the watch?
Full Colour Maps
Well first up the main reason I got it was for full colour maps on the watch with GPS navigation and boy does it still deliver. It's been invaluable when exploring new routes being able to just glance at my wrist to see where to go next.
It syncs with Komoot too, helping me plan routes on their service (still the best for planning trail runs) then sync my watch to have the route appear for me.
I've never had issues with the map being unavailable or unable to refresh, and by and large it doesn't seem to have too much impact on the battery life using the navigation mode.
There's a slight delay on the compass which can be frustrating, however it feels like I'm asking a lot of a watch to be instant in refreshing the map screen, and it's rarely more than a second before I can see where I'm heading again.
Stats, Stats Everywhere
Garmin is a fine choice for data nerds; the software on the watch and in the Connect app really lets you go deep into how your training is progressing, what recovery requirements you have and how to improve.
I'm a big fan of:
- Body Battery: tracking how tired you are after an activity and how much you've recharged from rest. Good for quantifying days when a run has gassed you out or seeing whether an afternoon bike ride is really a good idea
- 4W Load Focus: Tracks what types of activity you are doing and recommends where you need to focus on, split down by Low Aerobic, High Aerobic and Anaerobic. For me I was doing far too much High Aerobic, not enough easy runs or high intensity intervals
- VO2 Max Tracking & Race Estimates: Tracks how fast it thinks you can do a given distance
- Heat Acclimation: It tracks how much you have run in hotter conditions, useful for seeing how well your body has adapted to the summer or if you are training for a particularly hot race
You can customise pretty much every screen, data field and stat on the watch. Anything that I found frustrating I could turn off, any data I felt I needed to see I could add as a screen, and reorder as appropriate.
The data shown on your watch face, the stats available both in and out of an activity, can all be modified. It's a little overwhelming at first to be honest, however with a bit of playing about the UI makes sense.
I especially like that you can set up different custom sports profiles, for example I don't like having a Lap Button as one accidental press messes up my stats, but for hill reps I use it all the time. Garmin allows me to have a normal Run profile, and a Run - Lap Button profile to give me options.
Not So Greats
Garmin quote that you can get up to 36 hours battery life for activities when using GPS mode without playing music. I've never got close to this, usually having to charge once a week when doing ~10-12 hours active work.
I am happy that it'll last the 9-12 hours for a single activity I'll need in August from a full charge, but disappointed it's not tracking close to the usage I expected.
Turning off Bluetooth and the WIFI definitely helps, and different screens do change the drain (the map screen drains slightly more, but only by a bit). GPS Only Mode also helps eke a little more battery out, more on the issues with that in a bit.
This is a personal one rather than anything the watch is doing. I thought I'd use the music feature so much. You can sync playlists so they play through Bluetooth headphones paired with the watch, all stored offline. Great stuff!
In reality it's so rare I run without my phone, and already rare that I run with music, that I just don't use the feature.
Another personal one, that I go back and forth on.
There's a feature called "Performance Condition" that tracks how well you are performing on a given day, it's pretty useful, if you're feeling a bit of a morale dip on the day it's nice to have your watch confirm that you are a bit more tired then usual.
However the timing of the alert is an absolute arse. It tells you your performance condition roughly 5 minutes into an activity. Nothing kills your morale more than feeling like you're having a strong morning, only to have your watch beep and say "You're condition is -4, you are performing worse than usual" right at the start. I've told the watch where it can shove it many a time after that alert.
Now in fairness, as with a lot of the Garmin alerts, you can turn this feature off. Maybe I just like swearing at my wrist.
Pain In The Arses
Heart Rate Sensor and Return
Probably the most important point; I had to send back my first Forerunner 945 as less than a month into using it the Heart Rate Sensor stopped working entirely.
In fairness to Garmin their support team were quick to suggest a replacement and had the watch back to me within 3 working days, very happy with that turn around.
Not had any issues with the sensor on this new one since, so likely a factory issue, but one to be aware of.
GPS Inaccuracy (50 meter issue)
This one has caused some proper swearing fits from me.
Most of the time the GPS is pretty accurate; I find that when in GPS Only mode it can lose signal easily when in woodland, and finds the signal faster when in GPS + GLONASS mode. The battery does drain faster when GLONASS is enabled though, so it's a frustrating compromise.
However on both modes I consistently get this issue where suddenly my GPS position will be reported as ~50 meters away from where I actually am, sometimes even further. I appreciate that GPS is never going to be 100% accurate, however that is a massive margin, and often leads to me being utterly lost trying to work out why my surrounding don't in any way match the map I'm looking at.
I have found that having GLONASS enabled seems to kick it back to where I actually am faster, but that's not a particularly scientific observation.
Would I Buy It Again?
I'm in two minds, there's enough issues that it would give me pause and look at some competitors devices to see how they compare. For reference I previously had a Polar Vantage M that I adored, no issues at all with that device except it's lack of maps.
However the verbosity of Garmin's stats and tracking does make it hard to consider another platform.