Garmin Forerunner 45 review: Awesome value for money

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Garmin Forerunner 45 Review

Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch
Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch

I wanted to give a Garmin Forerunner 45 review, because it’s a great watch, especially for the price. 

When I am training for marathons and ultra races, I use this watch.

That’s every day. 

And I train 100kms+ a week sometimes.

I thought it might be useful to share my experiences with this watch.

The Garmin Forerunner 45 is one of the lowest in the Garmin range of watches for runners.  It is an ideal beginner runner watch.  It also has the essential features that you will require when you get more running experience.

I will start by talking about the features that I most use on the phone.  How I use them, and how they will benefit you.

Primarily this is a running and cycling tracking watch.  If you want to do more than that, it might be a good idea to look at other alternatives (such as the Fenix 6 Pro).

Garmin Forerunner 45 – Most Used Features

Activity Tracking

This is the central functionality within the watch. The activity tracking can be for several activities:

  • Run
  • Treadmill
  • Bike
  • Walk
  • Cardio

From the Connect App on the phone, you can add others (maximum of 6) from:

  • Indoor Track
  • Bike Indoor
  • Walk Indoor
  • Elliptical
  • Stair Stepper
  • Yoga
  • Other

I use Run, Bike, Walk a lot.  You may notice that swimming is missing. If you are a tri-athlete, or like to track your swimming sessions, this is not the watch for you (it is water proof, you just can’t track the activity)  You could use the cardio activity, although the tracking might not be perfect, as it’s not really meant to do this.

Activity Tracking Options

When you select the activity, the watch attempts to lock on to a GPS signal.  There is an options menu at the bottom. 

With the options, you can select:

  • Workouts
  • Data Screens
  • Alerts
  • Laps
  • GPS

Workouts allows you to access intervals, or My Workouts (see Customer Workouts Section).

Intervals is a single workout type that you can edit, and easily select when starting a run.

The intervals can be customised to set the rest period, the distance, time or open.  Open is when the interval runs until you press the lap button.  You can also set the number of intervals or repeats.  You can also select whether to include an warmup and cool down as part of the activity.

I have used the intervals feature a lot in the past for example, 20 x 400m intervals with one-minute rest.

Using this feature, you press start and the watch will take you through the steps that you have set up.  Warm up, tell you to run, and tell you to rest.

I also used the open type when I was doing hill intervals. 

When I did intervals in blocks of 10 with a 2-minute rest between each, I used the open feature. 

I could do this because I already knew where I was running to top of hill), and where I started bottom of hill). 

In this case the feature was to track each lap, which I would signal by pressing the lap button.

With any activity, you also get heart rate tracking (bpm), cadence (spm), elevation, calories burned, a map of where you went during the activity, whether the activity was faster or slower than the average for the activity.  You can also add gear, such as training shoes, so that you know how much distance you put on the shoes.  Interesting to know, but you can usually tell when they need replacing anyway.

All the above is visible via graphs from the Connect App, and is visible on graphs, where you can overlay two graphs, such as heart rate and elevation.

Custom Workouts

Custom Workouts are available from the Connect App, and allows you to create your own workouts.

I have a number that I have used for tempo runs (as seen in the picture above), intervals, pacing for PB in various race distances (e.g. set an intensity target between an upper and lower pace that will achieve the PB), vo2max improvement runs (intensity target at or above vo2max pace), Easy run (recovery – intensity target in low heart rate zone).  I even set a marathon one, that just had the distance, so that if you’re feeling the pain the watch will tell you when you are done.  When you have run that far you want to know if it’s 42.2 or 42.3 and get the correct distance!

Most of my runs fall into this category, using the custom workouts.

Most recently I do my training using the MAF method and set the distance type to open, and the intensity type to MAF HR – 10 to MAF HR – 2.  This allows me to run at any distance, stay within the low heart rate guidelines, and be alerted if I’m about to go over my MAF max HR.

Custom Screens

Garmin Forerunner 45 - Custom Screens

From the activity tracking options menu, you can also customise data screens.  This means you can configure the watch to display pace, distance, time, heart rate, heart rate zone, calories, lap time, lap distance, average pace, cadence, steps, time of day.  You have three fields you can configure.

I use this a lot, so that I can see on one screen the pace, distance, and activity time, on another heart rate, heart rate zone, time, and on yet another lap related metrics. You can change 5 screens that are accessible during an activity.

Since I use the heart rate intensity target, you also get a nice coloured display of the “green zone” where your intensity target is set to.  Either side of it, red zones.  An arrow moves to indicate what pace or heart rate you currently have.

I often switch between that and the other two data screens, to see how things are going.

I’m particularly focussed on time on my feet these days.  If it is a hot day, I also like to see pace, to see how much my heart rate has been affected.

Heart Rate

Your heart rate is monitored continuously, even if you’re not actively tracking an activity. 

You can customise your activity tracking screens to include heart rate zone, and heart rate.  I didn’t used these a lot until I came across heart rate zone training, and then the MAF method.

I find heart rate is a great thing to use if you’re completing a race event, as you can glance and see how high your heart rate is, which will tell you if you’re pushing too hard or not.

Heart Rate Zones

You can set up your heart rate zones from the Connect App.  You can set up where each of the 5 zones is, in terms of BPM. 

The simple way to set this up is with your maximum heart rate.  When the application is first used, the app sets the maximum heart rate to be 220-age.  You should go out and do a maximum heart rate test, to get the true value.

If you don’t find your true maximum heart rate, then the zones will be in the wrong places.  This is likely to mean that the zones are all too slow and have little impact on your training.  For example, if the maximum is 175bpm, and your true MAXHR is at 200bpm, then your zone 5 is likely to be an aerobic exercise, instead of a full out effort.

You can also set what percentages to use from the Connect App.  So for example, 50-59% is zone 1, you could change the values to 40-55% for example.  Some “methods” of doing heart rate zones use custom levels like that.  I don’t personally use them, but it is possible.

Intensity Target

Garmin Forerunner 45 - Intensity Target

I mentioned intensity target previously in custom workouts.  This hard to spot feature is an absolute gem and gives me all I really need for a running watch.

What it does, is it allows you to set a pace range, or a heart rate range to use for your activity.  If you go outside of this range, the watch beeps at you to remind you to speed up, or slow down.

Once you understand what values you are using, and why, this is and absolute necessity.

If you use heart rate ranges, as I do it will prevent you from overtraining.

You can also use the pace targets to help you to achieve, and often beat your person best (PB).  Set the pace slightly lower than your target pace to slightly higher than your target pace.  The watch will warn you if you’re going to quickly (and will burn out) or if you’re going too slow to achieve your PB.  I like to have it with a lower end pace still fast enough, so with a little increase in pace at the end I can achieve my PB.

You could though set up a workout to give you the correct pace ranges for different parts of the race.  This would be particularly good if you’re trying for negative splits.  You could set half the race as a comfortable pace.  Then the next quarter at a pace that will get you to your PB, and the final quarter that goes between PB pace, and a little bit higher.

I was told when I got this watch that it didn’t have a pace feature, but this is exactly what I wanted.  It gets you to your target, but allows you to vary your pace too, if that is your thing.

Answer Calls on Phone

This is useful when you’re on a training run and have the phone in your running belt. 

Yes, you can use the headphones too most probably. I know mine do.  

All it does is allow you to answer or decline the call, then the call comes through on your headphones.

Control Music on Phone

Garmin Forerunner 45 - Control Music on the Phone

If you have some music on your phone, you can control it from the watch. 

It means you don’t have to mess with the phone to turn up volume, skip tracks, pause. 

I prefer to run without headphones most of the time, but I have used this feature occasionally.  It works well.

Downloadable Training Plans

These are at Garmin Connect, on the web, and you can create a free account.

I did this once and followed the plan.  You must go to the connect website and select one from many of the coaching plans.  Very easy to do, and what it does is load up your calendar with activities.  When you go to the run activity, it shows you the workout that is part of the plan. 

You can ignore a particular activity, and not do it, and the activities don’t self-adjust.  The ones I did were heart rate and time based, so not necessary.

You can also select a workout on the plan, and repeat it, or run it a day or two later if you like to.  I was impressed with the flexibility there.  I mean, life happens.

If you’re just starting out, and feel you’d like to have a training plan for whatever distance you’re wanting to do, this is a great place to start.

Once you get some experience running, you probably won’t use these much anymore.

Downloadable Coaching

Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch - Downloadable Coaching Plans

These are also available via the Connect App and are for beginners.  I loaded one up but haven’t done one myself.  This is good as it asks you the distance, your running history, and customises the training plan to suit.  You then get to choose from several coaches. 

The resulting workouts are like the ones you can download online.

Another nice feature for when you’re starting out, so you can do everything from the watch, and hopefully achieve your desired goals.

Relaxation Breathing Timer

Garmin Forerunner 45 - Breathing timer

I just stumbled on this when messing with the watch.  It’s quite cool when you are stressed out a bit, to help recovery.  All it does is tells you when to breathe in, and when to breathe out.  I felt a lot better after doing it, even though I have done meditation many times.  Great idea.

Other Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch features

There are many other features of this watch, such as alarms.  I use these all the time, along with an alarm on the phone when I need to make sure I’m up for an early run.

There’s stopwatch, timer, find my phone, sleep tracking, emergency assistance, stress levels, body battery, current hear rate. Summaries for the day, recent activities can also be accessed. SMS messages can be viewed from the watch.  You can get weather information from the watch (if it is near the phone), calendar, heart rate history.

Sleep tracking is interesting, as it’s important that you’re getting good quality rest and sleep.  This allows you to recover and build your fitness.

Viewing SMS messages is okay – you can glance at the watch when you’re not running and see if the message requires a response.

I also like to look at heart rate, to see how I am recovering.  That’s just to check if my heart rate it back to normal resting heart rate levels or not.

The body battery idea indicates how much training you’ve done and shows you graphically how much you have “charged” or rested.  Good to prevent over training.

You are also able to download a small number of watch faces, and select them.  That’s nice for a change sometimes, but hardly necessary.

The watch doesn’t allow you to download many of the watch faces, as they are for the higher specification of watch.  And you can’t download any applications to this watch.

Features I want on a Garmin Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch is an awesome watch, but there are a few features that are missing.

If you want any of these features, you might want to go for a better watch.

One feature I think would be useful when I’m running somewhere that I don’t know, is the maps feature.

Set a target distance, then start running, and the watch will tell you where to go, where to run.  GPS navigation.  Most of the time although, I know where I’m going, or map out a route.

Then there’s training effect, which is a measure of the effect training had on your aerobic and anaerobic systems.  That would be cool, although generally looking at your heart rate zones, you already know. This is because if you’re doing heart rate zone training, you will target a specific zone generally.

Recovery time – like body battery, this shows you how long you should be recovering for before the next time that you run.  Again, I often plan what effort I will put in, generally low, so that I can recover.  But it would be nice.

I’d like the tracking of activities that some of the higher end watches have, such as counting your press-ups for you.  Again, not necessary, but useful.

More activity types perhaps.  Particularly hiking, and maybe also mountain biking, and swimming.  These are all covered by walking, bike, and cardio, but it would be good to differentiate. I think also when there are a specific activity, the algorithms for them will better track the activity than it would when using a general one.

I can confirm that walking can be used for hiking, and bike can be used for mountain biking. The standout missing feature is swimming. If you’re a runner, you might not care? Be good to have, when you’re cross training.

Where to Buy?

The Garmin forerunner 45 GPS running watch is an excellent watch for people of all skill levels. If you have the money, you should look at the Garmin Fenix Pro 6 as it is even more excellent my friends have them). If youre poor, like me, the Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS running watch is an excellent buy, and has almost all the features you actually need. I highly recommend it.

If you are wanting to get your watch in a hurry, and are keen to use its amazing features to improve your running personal bests, the following links below take you to where you can buy them. Please note I get a small commission for this, but you still pay the same low price. It helps pay for the server, so I can continue to help you. Is that okay? The watch

Garmin Forerunner 45 GPS Running Watch

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro (All the features of the forerunner 45 plus the features I’d like and more)