Hi friends! It’s been a minute, as usual! But, I’m back to FINALLY share my official review of the Garmin Forerunner 45s running watch. I have lots of thoughts – so let’s dive in!
First, let me start with the elephant in the room: I HATED my Apple Watch. Hated it. Loved it for a hot second, then couldn’t wait to find something better and more user friendly, and far less excessive. Now hear me out, ya’ll! I am an avid Apple fan, and have all the Apple things and have for years and years. But the Apple Watch is the one Apple product I can forever live without and just can’t get behind. Harsh? Maybe. But when you look at it from the perspective of, “does it really meet my needs?” – it just doesn’t make sense.
Here’s what I’ve told everyone who’s asked. The Apple Watch is a smartwatch with fitness tracking capabilities. Whereas, products like Garmin or even FitBit are fitness tracking devices designed to be fitness tracking devices with smartwatch capabilities. And a brand like Garmin has been around forever in the fitness world. Does that make sense? Maybe some would argue this. But to me, it’s kind of like saying Nike Shox are great running shoes. You can run in them, but they’re not really made to be running shoes for a serious runner. (A Boston Marathoner is probably going to be wearing something like Brooks or Hoka, not a pair of Converse.)
More succinctly put, it all just boils down to your needs. And the Apple Watch did not fit my needs. Here are the reasons I would not recommend the Apple Watch if you’re looking for a dedicated fitness smartwatch. (Disclaimer: my thoughts are based on a Series 3 Apple Watch I received in 2016. So please know that these are my opinions alone, based on a watch that is now 4 years old.)
- Touchscreen all the time was super annoying, especially when it accidentally got bumped during a workout. I also remember it being REALLY annoying that every time I moved my wrist it would light up and ‘come to life.’ I know you can turn this off, but I also felt like it was a pain remembering to do so.
- The touchscreen was also super annoying when you accidentally rub it and the entire watch face changes over to something else. I could never figure out how to keep this from happening and it was again, a pain trying to switch it back.
- It felt excessive having a million apps on it, like a mini iPhone. I literally never used ANY of them and all I really cared about were the basic fitness features.
- The ‘Rings’ seemed imbalanced and didn’t make sense for a serious runner. You also couldn’t change them (except the goal for the move ring) or reconfigure them. You were stuck with ‘move’, ‘stand’, and ‘exercise.’ (For someone just looking to move more however, it’s a great way to set little goals throughout the goal and stay on a healthy track.) The exercise ring also utilized heart rate for determining exercise – so basically sometimes I would exercise but not ‘hard enough’ for my watch to count those minutes as exercise. Closing of the rings also felt confusing and strangely configured. The fact that I had to google the different rings multiple times was enough for me to check out.
- Steps didn’t show by default on the front face of the watch. If you come from the world of Fitbit or Garmin, it feels very strange to not be able to see your steps at first glance. Now, you CAN install a different watch face, and click around a few times to find your steps, but just the fact that you even have to do that was frustrating. I greatly prefer having steps be one of the first things I’m able to see as soon as I look at my watch.
- The Apple Activity app was ok, but to really get a quality running or fitness app you had to install a third-party one.
- Starting to track a run on the Apple Watch never felt easy and the different ways you could swipe or not swipe felt super confusing.
- The battery life SUCKS. I had to recharge my watch almost every other day if I wore it consistently.
- The watch itself was heavy.
- The built-in activity app felt limited. The distance tracking also felt inaccurate compared to my husband’s Garmin. They never quite matched up.
- The Apple Watch was basically like having an iPad or MacBook on your wrist and felt excessive unless I turned off all my notifications. I felt like getting text messages, emails, phone calls, app alerts, weather alerts, literally ALL THE ALERTS on my Apple Watch was just not something I was interested in. I already own an iPhone which is always in my hand or by my side, I’m always at work on my MacBook, and we have iPads sitting around the house. Having basically another computer on my wrist 24/7 felt suffocating and I didn’t see the point in getting text messages on my watch at the same time I got them on my phone, which I was going to look at right away anyways. A few times I tried the ‘talk to text’ feature and ‘drawing’ out my texts, but it never felt ‘easy’ to me.
- The Apple Watch itself was ridiculously confusing to learn how to use to the extent to which it’s meant to be used. I can’t tell you how many times I had to google or YouTube or ask friends for tips on how best to use my Apple Watch. Its’ user-friendliness is awful, and I honestly found it to be very unintuitive unless you spent way too much time trying to figure it out. And I’d like to think of myself as pretty tech-savvy, so surely I’m not the only one who was bothered by this.
- For the price, it felt like a waste of money for only using say, the tip of the iceberg. I knew it was capable of so much more, but I just didn’t have the time or energy to try to figure it out, or frankly the desire to.
Guys, I just really didn’t like it. I’m sorry to be such a Negative Nancy about it, and I’m sure so many of you reading this are like, “She’s so dumb for not being able to figure out an Apple Watch” but I was just not a fan! I tried, I REALLY tried to like it, but I just could.not.get.there.
Enter: the Garmin Forerunner 45s.
I quickly started feeling like I desperately needed an actual dedicated fitness watch and my Apple Watch was causing more frustration than it was joy. I felt like the Apple Watch was holding me back from meeting my fitness goals and I had zero motivation to wear it regularly.
After much research, Adam and I decided the Garmin Forerunner 45s made the most sense for me. It comes in at a much more *affordable* investment of roughly $199. (Currently, they’re very easy to find for $150 now that it’s been out a while. See link above!) He surprised me with it for Christmas and I haven’t looked back! (For reference, Apple Watches start at $399 and a few years ago when I received mine they were even more, like $500-$600!) Also, the Forerunner 45s is the smaller version of the Forerunner 45. So if you’ve got tiny wrists like I do, it might fit you a bit better!
I would describe the Garmin Forerunner 45s as a very user friendly, mid-range, minimal fitness watch. By mid-range I mean, it’s not the least fancy and it’s not the fanciest. It’s really right in the middle, as far as bells and whistles are concerned, but fairly minimal compared to the rest of the Garmin lineup. If it were up to Goldilocks and the 3 little bears, it would be “just right.” At least to me, it is! It’s incredibly easy to use, easy to learn, and honestly just, SIMPLE. It’s still a smartwatch, but with this one in particular, it’s very easy to pare it down to primarily being a fantastic bare-bones fitness watch and I could not love it more!
Similar to how I laid out what I didn’t like about the Apple Watch, here is everything I LOVE about my Garmin Forerunner 45s!
- Watch face and screen size fits my wrist perfectly. I love the round shape as opposed to the square block of an Apple Watch.
- It is NOT touchscreen and has just enough control through the exterior buttons. I personally can’t stand having a touchscreen on my wrist at all times, so this is a great option if you feel similarly.
- Garmin LiveTrack feature makes me feel super safe when I’m out alone on a run or on a trail run. I actually leave LiveTrack on pretty much all the time, just for peace of mind. (Basically you can enter in an email address to be notified anytime you start your GPS and that person can watch you live, as well as be notified as soon as your GPS stops.)
- The main watch face is simplified and just shows time, date, heart rate, battery life, and steps. (This can be changed quite easily though using the Garmin Connect IQ app if you prefer a different layout.)
- It is very lightweight, comfortable, and does not feel bulky.
- The ‘body battery’ feature through Garmin is brilliant and Adam and I love competing to see who can wake up with the highest body battery and who’s really the most tired at the end of the day, per Garmin. Ha! Body Battery essentially takes into account your heart rate, activities, stress level, sleep, steps, etc. throughout the day to guesstimate how worn out your body is. When Garmin senses that you’re resting or sleeping, your body battery goes up and throughout the day it drains.
- It’s easy to see ‘your day’ at a glance, so you can quickly pull up your activities for the day, intense minutes (active minutes similar to Apple), steps, and calories. You can also click once more and see ‘your week’ at a glance.
- You have the ability to connect as many apps and notifications as you prefer. So you can opt to receive emails, texts, weather alerts, phone calls, calendar events, etc, just like you can with an Apple Watch.
- The Garmin Connect app is very simple to use and highly detailed. The amount of data you can dive into is actually super fun and one of my favorite things is the VO2 Max. Garmin defines this as “an indication of your cardiovascular fitness and should increase as your level of fitness improves.”
- You can also connect with Facebook friends or friends through Gmail to get a feed of their activities. It’s kind of like a Facebook newsfeed of whoever you’re connected with. I don’t have this set up yet, but it could be fun! (I use Strava to do this already so I really don’t need it in two places, but I like that Garmin Connect offers it.)
- I also love that you can input your monthly cycle info. I use a few different apps for this already, but I just recently started relying on inputting information into my Garmin Connect app since I look at it almost daily.
- You can see your heart rate on the main watch face, at least that’s how I have mine set up. I’ve not done much research into heart rate training, so I still have a lot to learn, but it’s interesting being able to see your heart rate throughout the day and also easily during workouts if you opt for a layout that displays it. During a ‘Cardio’ activity, it’s especially interesting to see!
- The battery life is incredible! I can go almost a week sometimes without charging it, depending on how many times I turn the GPS on. On average though, I’d say 5 days is pretty typical. It also recharges VERY quickly. I could be on 1%, plug it in for 5 minutes and be back up to 40% right before I head out the door.
- Run, Treadmill, Bike, Walk, Cardio, Add Other are the main activities you can turn on GPS for right off the main screen.
- Garmin ‘finds GPS’ very quickly.
I’m sure there are tons of other reasons why this watch is great that I’m forgetting, but I hope this helps! (You can find more details here!) What it really boils down to for me is that the Garmin Forerunner 45s meets my needs at just the right place. It’s a great fitness tracking watch for people like me who don’t necessarily WANT all the bells and whistles that come with a top-of-the-line smartwatch, but can still appreciate basic smartwatch features given the option. I would highly recommend it if you’re looking for a fitness tracking watch that is easy to strip down to exactly that, fitness tracking. Eventually though, I could see myself being convinced to upgrade to something like the Vivoactive 4S, only because it’s BEAUTIFUL! (Check out that rose gold and the dusty pink mmmm so cute! All the heart eyes! But the watch itself is also waaaaaay more complex than the forerunner line, so I’m not sure I would like it or even use it for it to be worth it!)
Happy running! Please don’t hit me with all the reasons why you love your Apple Watch – you cannot convince me to go back. HA! 😉 #garminforlife