Knowledge is Power!
It is hard to believe that I have been running with my Garmin Forerunner 405 for over four years now. I had been running seriously for a couple of years and thankfully the city I live in spaces out major blocks at exactly one-mile increments. I wore a watch that had a stopwatch and would run the city blocks and try to figure out my pace as each mile went by. I then purchased a Polar Heart Rate Monitor so I could keep track of my effort. As 2007 was coming to an end, I started to research what sort of running tool I wanted for Christmas. I stumbled on to an article about the new Forerunner 405 which was to be released in January. I was excited to try it out and started making daily phone calls to multiple REI stores to make sure I could get it on the day it was released. In January of 2008 I hurried home after my purchase excited to try it out…unfortunately I had to wait for it to charge before I could enter into the world of instantaneous feedback while running.
The Forerunner 405 was Garmin’s first successful attempt at providing athletes with a GPS watch that didn’t look like a giant piece of equipment attached to the wrist. It’s predecessor, the Forerunner 305, is considerably larger than the 405, and so the more watch-like design for the 405 makes it more appealing. The 405 only has 2 buttons but uses what they call a touch bezel, the silver ring around the face of the watch, to access most of the functions. With a little bit of effort it is easy to get used to the bezel functions to scroll through the menus.
I would encourage you to take the time to become familiar with the watch before you venture out on the trails. There are multiple screens and options that the 405 offers. As you start out, you will need to allow the watch to connect with the satellites. I have rarely ran into problems with the connections. The directions suggest that you attempt to connect outdoors, but I haven’t found that necessary. There have been a few times where I have needed to exit the connection screen, and then go back in for it to access, but a few times is nothing over a four-year period of time.
Once connected to the satellites all you need to do is push the start button and your instant feedback is in the palm of your hand, or at least on your wrist. You will need to decide which screens are most valuable for you and how much information you want on each screen. The user can choose from one to three different sets of information on each screen. I believe that since you bought a GPS watch, you would want the distance traveled. When I run, I typically choose to have the average pace, time elapsed, and distance traveled on my primary screen. On my secondary screens I will choose current speed, current heart rate, average heart rate and many others. There are numerous choices that the user can elect. One of my favorite functions is the virtual pace partner. The user can enter in the pace that they would like to run and the watch will keep track of how much time and distance the user is ahead or behind the elected pace. This is a great feature when trying to beat a P.R.
Having the immediate feedback while out running or cycling is great but it is only half of what Garmin has to offer. When you are finished with your training and head toward your computer, the watch will sync up with your computer using an Ant+ stick. Your entire workout will be downloaded into the Garmin training center. Make sure to set the lap function on your watch. This will help you as you analyze your training session. I set my laps to one mile and can easily analyze my training session. The program also provides you with a map of where you traveled. The map in the training center is somewhat limited but it allows you to open your training session in Google Earth. You can also sync your training center to Garmin’s web-based training center where all the information is available in an even better format with better maps. There is even a player where you can watch yourself, in the form of a pin, move through your training session and compare your speeds, elevation and other information.
I loved the watch so much that I forced my wife and neighbors to try it. A week later my wife had ordered her own and soon thereafter my neighbors had also bought one. My wife loves the interval function the watch offers. She sets her interval to distance or time and the watch will audibly alert her to when she either needs to step it up or enter into her recovery period. The ANT+ and the computer program easily pair up with both my watch and my wife’s, without any issues
I have found that the watch is extremely accurate. I have tested it against the speedometer in my car and a few different bike computers and it has always been right on. The battery is also solid. The watch comes with a plug where you can recharge the battery whenever you need to. The only time I have run out of battery power after a full charge was during my Ironman event when I was out on the road for an extended amount of time (8+ hours).
Although I love the watch, it isn’t perfect. The back-light on my watch has never worked. It seems to only be a glitch with my watch as it has worked on my wife’s and other friends. I attribute this to wanting to be an early adopter and buying one of the first watches off the production line. I am convinced that Garmin would have exchanged it but I didn’t want to give it up for any amount of time. The only other problems I have had is when running when it is wet outside. There are times when the bezel does not react to the touch of wet fingers. Also, if wearing a long-sleeved shirt and it is wet, it has at times activated the bezel and changed the screen. These issues have been rare and can easily be avoided by using the locking function on the bezel.
The Bottom Line ~
The Forerunner 405 is an incredible piece of equipment and continues to be one of my favorite training tools even though it is four years old. I do need to note that the heart rate strap is an add on. You can purchase the watch with or without the heart rate strap. The suggested retail price for the 405 is around $250, but you can easily find the watch for under $200. I paid $350 when it was new and have never regretted my purchase.