The Garmin Forerunner 620 - Take A Look At Garmin's High End GPS Watch For Runners | RunBuzz Running | Run Coaching & Strength Training For Runners

The Garmin Forerunner 620 – Take A Look At Garmin’s High End GPS Watch For Runners

gps watch Garmin Forerunner 620

At the time I originally wrote this post, the Garmin FR620 and FR220 models were just about ready to ship out to stores everywhere.  Since then, I ended up purchasing the Forerunner 220, but I did get to play with the 620 at a local running store event where Garmin representatives were demonstrating its capabilities.

 

So it goes without saying that, just a few months after I purchased a brand new Garmin 610 Forerunner, Garmin came out with their brand new FR620 and FR220 models. I seem to have the same luck with cell phones – if I buy the latest model, before I even get the thing home, it’s already outdated.

Before we move forward, I’d like to publicly disclose that I have no professional relationship with Garmin. They do not send me products to evaluate, unlike other popular review sites or bloggers (although it would be nice if they did 🙂 ).  Because I don’t have a formal relationship with them, I am under no obligation to give them a positive review. I am simply a running coach who is evaluating their watches for what they are and how they work.  I have an added advantage over the average user, because I have an established base of athletes who use Garmin watches who I often solicit for feedback.  I do love Garmin, and you should also note that, in a few links below, I may receive a small affiliate commission from Amazon (at no additional cost to you) should you go to their website and purchase a watch by using a link below.  Please do not feel obligated to purchase through any of my links. Just think of it as a virtual “tip jar” and a great way to support the site and podcast show.  With that said, lets get started!

 

Garmin Forerunner 620 Review

I have to say, the Forerunner 620 is quite impressive. For me, the watch sync’ed with the satellite very fast, although the first time it was a little slower, most likely because it was learning where it was in relation to the satellite.  After that initial sync, it connected within 10-15 seconds on average which is a lot better than the Garmin 110’s and some of the 200′ series watches which usually took a few seconds more.

While I believe a lot of the features are “cool,”  I am not  sure I personally would use most of them that often. This watch is feature rich, but these features are really targeted for the most serious of runners.  If I had more time in a day to analyze the data, then I would certainly consider this watch.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to whether you are someone who is really into analyzing data and want some cool things to look at or track or if you’re someone who wants a subset of features at a cheaper price point.  If you fall into the first category, the Forerunner 620 is for you.  If not, then go with a cheaper model with fewer features.

The 620 comes in Black/Blue or White/Orange colors, as shown:
garmin forerunner 620 GPS watchgarmin forerunner 620 GPS watch orange review

The only other thing I should mention is that, when I looked at this watch, the version the rep shared with me was still an early release. It was expected to have additional firmware releases to improve the functionality of the watch and stability.  I have not reviewed it since. However, a runner in my running club owns one and reports that they’ve updated the watch once, and that runner has not yet had any issues.

In its marketing campaign, Garmin equates the watch to having your own running coach.  As a running coach myself, (and I admit, I am biased) that seems a little far fetched.  A watch is certainly not a replacement for a good coach. Regardless, as long as you’re realistic in your expectations, this is OK. It does have some really cool features:

Here are some of the features that make this a high end running watch worth seriously considering:

The basic stuff:

    • The Forerunner 620 features a touchscreen, compared to the Forerunner 220, which uses buttons.

 

    • It’s fully GPS-enabled and comes with high-resolution color displays.

 

    • It tracks distance, pace, calories, and heart rate (with HR monitor version – heart rate strap may/may not come with the watch, depending on what bundle you select).

 

    • It includes many pace types (like average page, best pace, etc.) and elevation measurements.

 

  • It has built in sensors to track distance when you can’t access a satellite. For example, indoor tracks or tunnels.

 

The cool stuff:

    • It features a recovery advisor feature
      As a running coach, I see many runners who suffer from over-training syndrome.  While I certainly wouldn’t only trust a watch, one thing that’s cool about the FR620 is its ability to detect rise in heart rate, from one day to another, based on its data history.  One sign of possible impending injury is a runner’s increase in resting heart rate.  This watch monitors your heart rate during the first several minutes of a run and then scores you, letting you know whether you should take it easy, take a day off, or are green for go. It does this using an easy-to-read color coding system.  Again, an interesting concept, but we’ll see soon how well it works or if it’s more of a novelty.

 

    • It contains a race predictor feature
      Based on your VO2 max estimate, the 620 can predict your race times for several distances. (See the V02 section below)Garmin Race Predictor Running Watch

 

    • Live Tracking
      The Garmin FR620 model allows others to see where you are during a training run (or race). To make this feature work though, you must be carrying a smartphone and be using the Garmin Connect mobile app. It can then use that phone’s signal to convey your position to family, fans, and coaches, wherever they are in the world.

 

  • Can analyze running form
    Again, as a coach I am biased that a watch will never replace a real running coach with a trained eye, but the 620 can help capture some statistics that would be useful.  When paired with the HRM-Run (Garmin’s Special Heart Rate Monitor) you can:
    • Measure torso movement – in order to calculate 3 different running metrics using the built-in accelerometer.
    • Measure cadence – the number of steps per minute. It displays the total steps (right and left combined).
    • Measure vertical oscillation – the bounce in your running motion. It displays the vertical motion of your torso, measured in centimeters.
    • Measures Ground Contact Time — the amount of time in each step that you spend on the ground while running. It is measured in milliseconds.

 

    • It helps estimate your VO2 max
      Knowing your VO2 max is a great way to measure your physical fitness and improve your performance.  However, calculating VO2 max accurately can only be done in a laboratory or testing center.  The Forerunner 620, when used with a heart rate monitor, will analyze data such as your running speed, beats per minute, and heart rate variability to estimate your VO2 max.What is VO2 max? VO2 max is a score that indicates the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute, per kilogram of body weight at your max performance. It has been highly effective at predicting your capabilities as a runner.  While having a high VO2 max is not a magic pill, it certainly gives you an advantage over runners with lower VO2 max. A color gauge on the watch shows how your VO2 max data compares to other runners of your gender and age range.

 

    • Run / Walk feature
      The Walk/Run feature is great for starting/stopping the walk/run segments with its built in time.  If you use the Jeff Galloway approach to training or run/walk, this is nice!

 

  • Easy Data Sync
    The Forerunner 620 can sync using USB or Bluetooth. It also has the ability to connect to Wi-Fi.

 

Compare the Garmin 620 against other Garmin running watch models
Photos courtesy of garmin.com

gps watch garmin forerunner 620 review

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Steve is the founder and head coach of RunBuzz.com. Steve is host of the RunBuzz podcast and founder of PaceBuilders, a complete training program for runners. Steve is a RRCA / USA Track and Field Certified Running Coach.