AT A GLANCE: QUICK RATINGS
Heart Rate Functions
Fitness / Sport Features
Ease of Use
Where To Get It
A Deep Dive Into The Garmin Forerunner 220
Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS Runners watch reviewed by Tristan Haskins aka the CardioCritic. A brilliant lightweight sports watch with high colour display and optional heart rate monitor.
The Forerunner 220 is predominantly aimed at runners, however, it is suitable for any exerciser looking for accurate 5 x heart zone training and GPS speed and distance feedback.
You also have the choice of the Forerunner 225 with OPTICAL, off the wrist heart rate sensor, no need for chest strap. Also >> The Garmin Forerunner 230 & 235 were added to this popular range of GPS runners watches in December 2021.
The main differences between the 230/235 and the 220/225 is the newer models have Bluetooth connectivity with smartphone notification alerts and wireless data upload to Garmin Connect APP.
They also feature Activity Trackers keeping you active throughout the day with movement alerts and daily activity targets.
Who Is It For?
The Forerunner 220 is the perfect GPS sports watch for the RUNNER who wants a smart, sleek training aid to help them achieve their goals whether it’s the local 5k ParkRunnofollow or the London Marathon.
It’s NOT a highly technical watch like it’s bigger brother/sister, the Forerunner 620, but it’s got more than everything it needs for a large percentage of recreational runners.
If all you really want is pace, distance and time (plus optional heart rate) when running, all displayed on the large clear colour display then the 220 could be perfect for you.
Confused by How Many Forerunner’s there are?
You are not alone. If you are thinking of getting a Garmin GPS running then you will be joining a club of thousands. There have been over 15 models in the Forerunner range so we published this guide to the Garmin Forerunner which compares the main differences between all the models from the original Forerunner 101 in 2003 to the latest products.
This is Garmin’s 3 minute video guide to using the 220 for the first time. I’ll leave it to the team from Garmin to get you acquainted with a few operations before you head out for your first run…
A competent GPS Running Watch
When we say it’s not technical, it still has some very useful running features like AUTOLAP, AUTOPAUSE and Pace Alerts. However, it does NOT have the TRAINING LOAD calculations or the VIRTUAL PARTNER that the 620 has.
The 220 can be worn as a regular time of day watch lasting up to 6 weeks in watch mode and up to 10 hours in training mode. It’s good for a week if used for 3 or 4 1 hour sessions of GPS training, the rest of the time acting as your day watch.
Hopefully by now you will know if the Forerunner 220 is for you. It’s a competent GPS runners watch. It’s NOT an activity monitor, nor is it a smartwatch… if that’s what you want, please look at the Vivoactive.
Could be Better
Just like the 620, as the 220 is a nice watch to wear ALL DAY it would be great if they could incorporate an ACTIVITY TRACKER like the Vivofit 2, Vivosmart and Vivoactive. Update > the new Forerunner 225 has now been released with ACTIVITY TRACKER and OFF the WRIST heart rate monitoring !!
Garmin are pretty good at getting things “just so” and producing a product that meets the full requirements of their objective customer base.
The Forerunner 220 is a prime example of this. It can be used straight of the box by anyone with a familiarity with setting up a smartphone or similar electronic device.
It’s easy to use, lightweight and does pretty much everything 90% of runners would want it to do. It’s main features are:
Specification from Garmin Website
- GPS running watch with high-resolution colour display
- Tracks distance, pace and heart rate¹
- Identifies personal records
- Compatible with free training plans from Garmin Connect
- Connected features²: automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™,
live tracking, social media sharing
- “Editors Choice” – 220 Triathlon Magazine
Just like a coach, Forerunner® 220 provides the motivating feedback you need to guide your training. You can even get post-run encouragement from friends and fans, thanks to the 220’s connected features like real-time live tracking and social media sharing via the Garmin Connect Mobile™ app.
A Coach in Every Watch
Forerunner® 220 measures essential running data like distance, pace and heart rate¹. It’s like having a coach on hand, providing constant feedback and recording all your stats so you can focus on your run. In addition to using GPS to calculate distance and pace, the 220 has a built-in accelerometer. This allows it to capture distance and pace data when you’re running on an indoor track or treadmill, with no need for a separate foot pod accessory. The accelerometer can also track distance when GPS is unavailable, such as when you run through a tunnel. It’s compatible with free training plans from Garmin Connect™, which you can schedule and send to your watch, for real-time coaching.
Easy to Use
The 220 is one of the first Garmin running watches to have a colour display, which makes it easy to interpret your data at a glance. It also features simple button operations and a sturdy, hinged wristband that’s comfortable for any size wrist.
Extra Training Features
You can set up alerts for heart rate, pace or run/walk intervals to help you stay in the desired range. The 220 features vibration alerts and audible alerts, and you can customise your watch to provide both or just one type of prompt. When your run’s done and saved in your watch’s history, a post-run summary appears so you can see how you did. The 220 also notices if you hit any personal records on that run, like your fastest kilometre, 5k, 10k, half or full marathon or your longest run to date.
If you’re like most runners, you want to analyse your stats after your run or race, but you may not be back at your computer right away. Forerunner® 220 solves that by automatically uploading your data to Garmin Connect, our free online community where you can save, plan and share your activities. Just download the free Garmin Connect Mobile app to your smartphone and then pair your watch. When you save your completed run, it will automatically upload to Garmin Connect when you’re in range of your phone.
Additional connected features include live tracking, which allows your friends and fans to follow along and see your stats in real-time. You must have your phone paired with the 220 throughout your run to use the LiveTrack feature. You can also share your victories on your social media sites by posting updates through the Garmin Connect Mobile app. And, for real-time coaching as you run, the 220 is compatible with free training plans at Garmin Connect. By regularly connecting your watch to Garmin Connect, you’ll also benefit from a faster GPS fix due to satellite data that will be sent to your device automatically.
Next Model UP
The next model up is the Forerunner 620. Similar style with the same high colour display.
The 620 adds training load analysis to help prevent over-training and monitor a sensible recovery between sessions.
With the 620 you get feedback on V0₂ max estimate, Recovery advisor, Race predictor and Running dynamics.
Running dynamics tell you how long you are making contact with the ground (less is best) your leg cadence (strides per second) and even virtual oscillationfollow… (yep, we had to Google it too)
The Forerunner 620 also adds the Virtual Partner feature, a great way to race against a virtual competitor… just set the desired distance.. 10K.. and a time 40 minutes.. and go race the ghost.
The 630 is also a popular choice. Learn more here.
Next Model DOWN
The model below is proably the Forerunner 15. It’s a different style of GPS running tool and features an activity tracker. If you want 24/7 activity monitoring and optional heart rate, then we’d strongly suggest the Forerunner 15.
An Alternative GPS Running Watch from Polar ….
If you are considering this Forerunner 220 then we would invite you to read the review of the Polar M400 and also consider purchasing it from our UK online store.
The Polar M400 is, in our opinion, the BEST GPS RUNNER’S watch on the market. It has all the PERFORMANCE tracking features you would expect from a competent runner’s watch, plus, a wealth of Training Load and Training Benefit feedback.
The 220 will help you better understand the training effect of each session and the predicted time required before you are fully recovered. It also features a reliable and well researched/accurate Fitness Test that can be conducted once or twice a month to keep track of your general fitness improvement (based on RR intervals and HRV)