A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs
A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs
A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs
A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan
A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan
A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan
Best Garmin watches for running Best Garmin watches for running
Best Garmin watches for running
Best Garmin watches for running
A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan
A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan
A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan
A faster half marathon – First speedwork and Friday Fun Run returns A faster half marathon – First speedwork and Friday Fun Run returns
A faster half marathon – First speedwork and Friday Fun Run returns
A faster half marathon – First speedwork and Friday Fun Run returns
A faster half marathon – Another time trial, PB and my first long run A faster half marathon – Another time trial, PB and my first long run
A faster half marathon – Another time trial, PB and my first long run
A faster half marathon – Another time trial, PB and my first long run
A faster half marathon – Time trials and low heart rate running A faster half marathon – Time trials and low heart rate running
A faster half marathon – Time trials and low heart rate running
A faster half marathon – Time trials and low heart rate running
A faster half marathon – Garmin Coach setup, benchmark and first runs A faster half marathon – Garmin Coach setup, benchmark and first runs
A faster half marathon - Garmin Coach setup, benchmark and first runs
A faster half marathon – Garmin Coach setup, benchmark and first runs
10K race – Epic Virtual Run 10K race – Epic Virtual Run
10K race - Epic Virtual Run
10K race – Epic Virtual Run
Training for a faster 10K – Tapering with easy runs and speed workouts Training for a faster 10K – Tapering with easy runs and speed workouts
Training for a faster 10K – Tapering with easy runs and speed workouts
Training for a faster 10K – Tapering with easy runs and speed workouts
Review: Aftershokz Aeropex – user experience Review: Aftershokz Aeropex – user experience
Review: Aftershokz Aeropex - user experience
Review: Aftershokz Aeropex – user experience

Best Garmin watches for running

Which running watch is right for you depends on two things: what do you want it to do for you and what you are willing and able to pay for it. Garmin has several lines of watches, the main ones suitable for running are: 

  • Vivoactive/Venu. This series contains more lifestyle focused watches and has standard options for tracking running and some other activities. They’re designed for every day use. 
  • Forerunner. There are many different models, ranging from low to high budget. All models are focused on running, though some models are suitable for triathlon as well. Depending on the model range these watches will have more advanced running statistics. 
  • Fenix. The Fenix series are complete, allround watches. They combine the lifestyle focus of the Vivoactive serie and the running/activity focus of the more high end Forerunners. 
  • Instinct. The Instinct watches are rugged, outdoor adventure watch. Great for most outdoor activities. 
In order to decide which series and which watch is right for you, you could go through all the different specifications listed on the Garmin website. However, the specifications are extensive and it’s not always clear which of those are important. This article will provide an overview per watch of the most important specifications for runners to help you decide which watch you should buy.

This page contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a compensation if you choose to use any of these links to buy a product. It does not affect the price you pay. Read more in my Affiliate Disclaimer.

Page overview

Garmin Vivoactive 4 or Venu

The Vivoactive series are GPS smartwatches with excellent run tracking capabilities. The design of the series makes the watches more suitable for everyday wear. The Garmin Venu is a recently released watch that has the same options as the Vivoactive 4, but with a better display and, as a result, shorter battery life. More details on that in the link below.

Budget: approximately $ 300

Battery life
Vivoactive 4: Smartwatch mode: 8 days, GPS: 18 hours, GPS with music: 6 hours
Vivoactive 4S: Smartwatch mode: 7 days, GPS: 15 hours, GPS with music: 5 hours
Venu: Smartwatch mode: 5 days, GPS: 20 hours, GPS with music: 6 hours

Comparing the Garmin Vivoactive 4/4S and Garmin Venu 

Specifications for runners - Vivoactive / Venu

GPS, Galileo and GLONASSYes
TouchscreenYes
Wrist based heart rate monitorYes
Body BatteryYes
Live tracking and incident detectionYes
Footpod compatibleYes
External HR compatibleYes
Garmin CoursesYes
Maps and navigationNo
MusicYes
VO2 MaxYes
Barometric altimeterYes
HRV stress testNo
Battery power modesNo
Training statusNo
Training loadNo
Training focusNo
Training effectNo
Multisport activitiesNo
Strava/Garmin Live SegmentsNo
Advanced running dynamicsNo
Lactate thresholdNo
PaceProNo
Race predictorNo

Garmin Forerunner 45 / 245

The Forerunner series is just that, made for runners. The Forerunner 45 is a great entry level model with basic functionality, while the Forerunner 245 provides more running data to analyze and use for improvement. The Forerunner 945 has everything you need and is described in more detail below. The Forerunners have a sporty look, making them appear to be more of a sports watch, even though the smartwatch capabilities are similar to the Vivoactive series.

Budget
Garmin Forerunner 45: $ 200
Garmin Forerunner 245: $ 230 
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music: $ 350

Battery life
Garmin Forerunner 45Smartwatch mode: 7 days, GPS: 13 hours
Garmin Forerunner 245: Smartwatch mode: 7 days, GPS: 24 hours
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music: Smartwatch mode: 7 days, GPS: 24 hours, GPS with music: 6 hours

Deciding between Garmin Forerunner 245 and 645

Specifications for runners - Forerunner 45 / 245

GPS, Galileo and GLONASSYes
TouchscreenNo
Wrist based heart rate monitorYes
Body BatteryYes
Live tracking and incident detectionYes
Footpod compatibleYes
External HR compatibleYes
Garmin Courses245 only
Maps and navigationNo
Music245 Music only
VO2 MaxYes
Barometric altimeterNo
HRV stress testNo
Battery power modesNo
Training status245 only
Training load245 only
Training focusNo
Training effect245 only
Multisport activitiesNo
Strava/Garmin Live SegmentsNo
Advanced running dynamics245 only, with compatible accesory
Lactate thresholdNo
PacePro245 only
Race predictor245 only

Garmin Forerunner 945 and Fenix 6

Both the Garmin Forerunner 945 and the Fenix 6 series are basically as well equipped as you could wish for. The specifications are basically the same, with some differences shown below. The main differences are in battery life and design. 

Budget
Garmin Forerunner 945: $ 600
Fenix 6: $ 650 – 1.100

Battery life
Garmin Forerunner 945: 
Smartwatch mode: 14 days, GPS: 36 hours
Fenix 6X (Pro): 
Smartwatch mode: 21 days, GPS: 60 hours, Battery Saver: 80 days
Fenix 6 (Pro): Smartwatch mode: 14 days, GPS: 36 hours, Battery Saver: 48 days
Fenix 6S (Pro): Smartwatch mode: 9 days, GPS: 25 hours, Battery Saver: 34 days

Review: Garmin Fenix 6S Pro – user experience

Specifications for runners - 945 / Fenix

GPS, Galileo and GLONASSYes
TouchscreenNo
Wrist based heart rate monitorYes
Body BatteryYes
Live tracking and incident detectionYes
Footpod compatibleYes
External HR compatibleYes
Garmin CoursesYes
Maps and navigation945 and Pro/Plus version only
Music945 and Pro/Plus version only
VO2 MaxYes
Barometric altimeterYes
HRV stress testYes, with compatible accessory
Battery power modesFenix only
Training statusYes
Training loadYes
Training focusYes
Training effectYes
Multisport activitiesYes
Strava/Garmin Live SegmentsYes
Advanced running dynamicsYes, with compatible accessory
Lactate thresholdYes, with compatible accessory
PaceProYes
Race predictorYes

Garmin Instinct

The Instinct is a rugged GPS watch suitable for all your outdoor activities. It’s durable and practical. Though the running features are similar to the entry level Forerunner 45, the Instinct has some unexpected options like an altimeter and basic navigation through Garmin Courses.

Specifications for runners - Instinct

GPS, Galileo and GLONASSYes
TouchscreenNo
Wrist based heart rate monitorYes
Body BatteryYes
Live tracking and incident detectionOnly live tracking
Footpod compatibleYes
External HR compatibleYes
Garmin CoursesYes
Maps and navigationNo
MusicNo
VO2 MaxYes
Barometric altimeterYes
HRV stress testNo
Battery power modesNo
Training statusNo
Training loadNo
Training focusNo
Training effectNo
Multisport activitiesNo
Strava/Garmin Live SegmentsNo
Advanced running dynamicsNo
Lactate thresholdNo
PaceProNo
Race predictorNo

Complete comparison chart

In summary, Garmin most likely has a watch tailored to your needs. From the most basic running watch with the Forerunner 45 via the stylish Vivoactive series to the full and complete Fenix series. Make the right decision and enjoy your brand new Garmin watch.

Specifications for runners - Summary

Functionality45 / 245InstinctVivoactive 4945 / Fenix 6
GPS, Galileo and GLONASSYesYesYesYes
TouchscreenNoNoYesNo
Wrist based heart rate monitorYesYesYesYes
Body BatteryYesYesYesYes
Live tracking and incident detectionYesOnly live trackingYesYes
Footpod compatibleYesYesYesYes
External HR compatibleYesYesYesYes
Garmin Courses245 onlyYesNoYes
Maps and navigationNoNoNo945 and Pro/Plus version only
Music245 Music onlyNoYes945 and Pro/Plus version only
VO2 MaxYesYesYesYes
Barometric altimeterNoYesYesYes
HRV stress testNoNoNoYes, with compatible accesory
Battery power modesNoNoNoFenix only
Training status245 onlyNoNoYes
Training load245 onlyNoNoYes
Training focusNoNoNoYes
Training effect245 onlyNoNoYes
Multisport activitiesNoNoNoYes
Strava/Garmin Live SegmentsNoNoNoYes
Advanced running dynamics245 only, with compatibly accessoryNoNoYes, with compatible accesory
Lactate thresholdNoNoNoYes, with compatible accesory
PacePro245 onlyNoNoYes
Race predictor245 onlyNoNoYes

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