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WATCH REVIEW: Garmin Forerunner 55

New to running? Never used a smartwatch before? This is the watch for you

In celebration of Global Running Day, Garmin released not one, but two new watchesCanadian Running got the chance to review both, and last week we gave you the rundown on the new Forerunner 945 LTE. This week we’re back to talk about the Forerunner 55, which is perfect for beginner runners, or for experienced runners who are looking for a simple, easy-to-use watch.

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Before I begin, I’d like to confirm that this is, in fact, a simple and easy-to-use piece of technology. While I am not a beginner runner, this was my first experience with a smartwatch, and as someone who has always been intimidated by any watch that has more than the classic stop/start and reset buttons, I found the learning curve was very quick to overcome. On top of that, I traditionally have never liked wearing things on my wrists (outside of running), but I wore this watch for two weeks straight and it was so comfortable, I often forgot it was there at all. Now on to the good stuff.

The basics

The Forerunner 55 does everything you need it to do, plus a little extra. With a simple press of a button, you can easily track your distance, time, pace and heart rate, and after testing it out on a few tried-and-true routes, it seems the GPS tracker is quite reliable and accurate. What makes this watch great for beginners is the Garmin Coach feature, which provides daily suggested workouts and all-day activity tracking to help you reach your fitness goals. Not going for a run today? No problem — the watch also allows you to choose other activities like swimming, walking, HIIT workouts and yoga, so you can easily keep a log of all your daily workouts.

All-day wellness tracking

Designed to be worn all day, the Forerunner 55 allows you to track your stress and recovery throughout the day. One of my favourite features was the sleep-tracking function, which not only gave me a detailed analysis of my sleep from the night before, but it showed me how a poor sleep affected my recovery and energy levels. The body battery energy monitor made it easy for me to know when my body was ready for a hard workout, and when I was better off taking an easy day.

The heart rate monitor also provided some really interesting feedback, and the watch could tell when I was stressed and notified me when I might need to do some relaxation exercises. In fact, one day my watch informed me that my heart rate was higher than normal, and recommended I stop and take a minute to do some deep breathing to reduce my stress levels. Women can also track their menstrual cycles or pregnancy on the watch, log their symptoms and receive exercise and nutrition education tips through the Garmin Connect app.

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Stay connected

Like many Garmin watches, the Forerunner 55 includes the popular connected features so users can receive text messages and social media updates directly to their wrists. The incident detection feature also allows runners to send a message with their real-time location to their emergency contacts if something goes wrong while they’re out on a run.

Advanced features

While this watch may have been designed with a more minimal approach in mind, it still has a few bells and whistles. The Pace Pro feature provides guidance to help runners tailor their efforts to a selected course or distance, and the finish-time estimator lets athletes select a run distance and view their estimated finish time right from the wrist. Cadence alerts let runners know when they’ve gone outside their target cadence range, helping to improve their running form, and after a workout, the built-in recovery time will let athletes know how long to rest before their next big effort.

Battery life

This was perhaps the most impressive feature of the watch, in my opinion. I wore it for two weeks before I had to charge it, using the GPS for several runs and workouts. No one likes having their watch die on them half-way through a run, but with battery life like that, that’s unlikely. Plus, when the battery started getting low, the watch continued to notify me that it needed to be charged, until I finally plugged it in.

Final notes

My first experience with a smartwatch was easy and, quite honestly, fun. I had very few problems figuring out how to use it, and I found the data it provided very informative and helpful in guiding my training, while the all-day health tracking helped me understand how other day-to-day stressors affected my recovery and well-being. If you’re new to running, or you’re a veteran in the sport who’s considering wading into the data-tracking world of smartwatches, I highly recommend the Forerunner 55. The watch retails for $199.99 and comes in black, white or aqua.

To learn more about the Forerunner 55, head over to garmin.com/forerunner.