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Product Review: Garmin Forerunner 15

by Holly Martin

I’ve done something terrible—I cheated on my old GPS watch. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the old thing—it was my first piece of “real” running technical gear, it carried me through thousands of miles, it helped me set plenty of firsts in distances and speeds, and even helped me reach a few PR’s. Not to mention, it was a birthday gift from my husband, so I couldn’t really give up on it without the inevitable, “But I bought that for you!”

Sorry, watch. But I needed something new, something different.

Different came in the form of the new Garmin Forerunner 15 —I ordered it the moment it became available, and… well, I love it. It’s very different from my first watch, which admittedly was a lot more watch than I really care to use; if you’re the kind of runner who likes a watch that will estimate your VO2 max, give you training plans, and potentially do your laundry, this isn’t the watch for you.

But if you’re more like me, someone who wants the basics and maybe a little more, someone who runs more for feel than for time, or even someone looking for their first GPS watch, the Garmin Forerunner 15 is for you.

ForeRunner 15 Garmin

One of my favorite things about this watch is how small it is, especially compared to most GPS watches. The screen is about 1.5” by 2” and is the perfect size to wear as an everyday watch, with an easy-to-read screen that can be toggled to show several different types of data.

Another thing that I love about this watch is how incredibly easy it is to use. One quick push of a button turns on the GPS (and it connects to the satellites in a snap, I think the longest I’ve waited was 30 seconds), and pushing that same button once more starts the timer and tracks the distance as you move. An excellent benefit, especially for those of us who run in the city (or have a penchant for stopping to take photos on the run), is the auto pause feature. Rather than having to turn off the timer (and subsequently forgetting to turn it back on), I can just wait patiently (yeah right) for the light to change, then continue on my merry way.

Maybe I’m just not savvy enough to have figured it out, but on my last watch I had the hardest time toggling between screens so that I could see chronograph versus distance, pace versus distance, date and time, or my pace versus that of Shalane Flanagan. The Forerunner 15, however, makes it incredibly easy to toggle between screens—the same button that shows me my steps, calories, and miles also switches screens while I’m on the run. While I don’t know how I compare to Shalane (and quite frankly, I’d probably be embarrassed), I love being able to check on my pace, or be blissfully unaware, depending on my mood.

Another cool feature of the Forerunner 15 is that it’s an excellent cheerleader; if you’ve set any new records while running, it’ll tell you about them after your run. Run your fastest mile, 5k, 10k, etc., or longest distance, and your watch will give you a hearty “congratulations!” and a pat on the back (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it will remind you of how amazing you are!).

Of course, being Garmin, you have the option to get the 15 with or without a heart rate monitor. Since I’m a glutton for punishment, I went ahead and got the monitor, in case a day comes up when I really want to push myself. It’s incredibly easy to pair with the watch and delivers information quickly and accurately (so I knew exactly how easy my easy run was, and how much harder I could have pushed it).

You can also pair a foot pod (sold separately) to track your distance indoors, if that’s your thing. Like all Garmin products, you can upload your data to Garmin Connect to track your trends and see how far you’ve come (or gone, as it were).

But the real reason that I wanted this watch was its ability to track my steps and approximate my calories burned throughout the day. Since I’m a student, my days range between walking all over campus, to sitting on my butt for hours writing papers and studying. The Forerunner 15 has a feature that reminds me when it’s time to get up and move around (usually after an hour of inactivity)—it beeps, flashes “MOVE!” and won’t go back to the normal screen until I’ve moved around for at least 2 minutes. I also really like to see just how far I’ve gone throughout the day—not only does the watch estimate my steps, it shows me an approximation of how far I’ve gone in miles (a HUGE ego boost). The preset goal is 7500 steps, but you can change that to whatever you’d like. Beware, though, if you’re competitive like me, you’ll do whatever you can to hit that number or higher. I may or may not have taken my dogs on extra walks to hit my goals (of course, they won’t complain!).

Overall, I’ve found the Forerunner 15 to be an excellent watch. It’s small enough that I can wear it all day, I love the mix of features, and how easy it is to use. I’ll be sad to see my old watch go, but the Forerunner 15 is a perfect replacement. I’m looking forward to the thousands of miles ahead, and hopefully a few new PR’s as well!

Click here to watch a great tutorial from Garmin on the new Forerunner 15.

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