Are you a runner looking to take training to the next level, but can't afford a really pricey device? Wondering why in the world you'd even need one? I was in your shoes! As an activity tracker, the Forerunner 35 is very nice. I give it 3 stars because many of the features that a runner would use don't work, and I feel it's deceptive to sell a device with these features when they're not really usable for training. Essentially, this is a good activity tracker posing (ineffectively) as a training tool.
Many reviewers mention that the Forerunner 35 isn't for "serious runners", and I took that to mean that they believe "serious runners" need all the complexity of a very expensive watch. I need to know pacing, HR, distance, time. Fancy analytics, realistically, aren't going to do a lot for my running. So really, this watch has everything a serious runner needs. The reason I believe reviewers say the device isn't for serious runners is that none of those features actually works in a way that is useful to someone trying to train seriously. The watch has pacing, heart rate and distance information, interval programming, virtual pacing (it notifies you when you deviate from a set pace), etc. However, in reality, most of these features don't work well enough to matter during a training session. You can get a nice ballpark pace during your slow runs, but it's pretty useless for speed work and can become really frustrating. Here's the rundown:
Pros: HR monitor works very well For general pacing info on easy runs, the price is good and the device is adequate After initially updating with the GarminExpress app, satellite acquisition is quick
Cons (for runners): 1. Pacing - this is the feature that really drives me nuts. It can take up to 3 minutes to catch up to your pacing change - for example, during interval work it takes a long time for the device to figure out how fast you're going after a "down" piece, resulting in huge spikes in pacing as you overcompensate because the device hasn't caught up to you and you think you're running too slow. I've raced with it, and as long as I didn't make any really drastic pace changes it was ok. But it's pretty useless for interval work. 2. Virtual Pacer doesn't work - you have to be way, way off pace for a long, long time before it notifies you that your pacing is off, which is useless for intervals/tempo work. They seem to have given it almost a full minute/mile buffer on pace notifications. Also, you can't change the desired pace during a run, so your warm-up and cool-down and any intentional pace changes will set off constant notifications 3. AutoPause doesn't work - you'll need to pause manually. It takes 3-4 seconds for the watch to start and stop, meaning you have large spikes in your data 4. Intervals - you can only set one interval time and then run it over and over, which runners don't really do. So no ladders, cut-downs, etc. I still have to carry my phone on interval/speed work days so I have a useful interval timer. On the upside, you can program it to leave you alone during warm up and cool down, and start the intervals at any point during your run
All-in-all, although it's very useful to have a pacing device for my runs, I greatly regret not spending a little more to get a better device for training, but I already blew my budget, so after a little live-and-learn and some REALLY frustrating training sessions, I decided to write this review. No, I still don't believe you need fancy analytics from a really expensive watch to be a better runner. But I strongly recommend you find out just how well a device's features actually work before buying.