When looking at its predecessor the Garmin 45 and this updated version, you will see no major differences. It has a sleek and modern design that is appealing for workouts and casual wear. This model is still rocking the fresh round face with a silicone wristband.
Comfy is a keyword that comes to mind when describing this watch. This watch is NOT TOUCH SCREEN. Around the face are 5 large buttons. The buttons are marked and easy to use. It’s not bulky like some other running watches. I would say it looks like Garmin’s version of their apple watch but, I think it looks nicer. The FR55 specs are very impressive for the $199 you will pay.
In the previous model, the FR45 came in other sizes but the FR55 is only available with a 42mm case. I have a small wrist and it doesn’t overpower my arm. Overall the FR55 is comfortable, lightweight, and stylish.
Technology is packed into the FR55 considering the very little you have to pay. Let’s dive deeper into what all comes with this watch.
Built-in GPS to help track your distances, pace, and intervals. It’s got wrist-based heart rate monitoring that tracks your heart rate during workouts and will also alert you if your heart rate is too high while resting.
A cool feature that is just offered by Garmin would be its GARMIN COACH. This fun feature gives you adaptive training plans guidance from professional coaches. Your workouts will sync from your watch to the Garmin Connect app, where you can easily access them to see where you stand.
If you’re looking for some help with your runs, the FR55 offers daily suggested workouts. These workouts are recommended based on your training history, fitness level, and recovery time. But wait, there’s still a lot more technology to talk about!
PACEPRO technology will help you plan your race day strategy, this feature offers GPS-based pace guidance for a selected course or distance in the Garmin Connect app. So you can tailor your efforts to what’s ahead. Want some guidance to help you meet your goal?
FINISH TIME will help you achieve that. Select a distance for your run, and you’ll be able to see a data screen that shows your estimated finish time.
TRACK RUN is a built-in track run activity to record accurate lap distances and see your distances in meters.
If you’re looking to improve your running form then CADENCE ALERTS is for you. This technology will let you know when you go outside of your target cadence range.
Recovery is crucial when you train hard and RECOVERY TIME is a built-in recovery time feature that will suggest how many hours you should rest before you get back out on the pavement.
RACE PREDICTOR is a specialized tool that takes into account your past training history and fitness level to help you work towards your race goal.
BUILT-IN SPORTS APP offers other choices for workouts.
FITNESS TRACKING will constantly count your steps and intensity when you are just out and about.
STRESS TRACKING will let you know if you’ve been having a calm or stressful day. It will even alert you when your heart rate is unusually high.
BODY BATTERY ENERGY allows you to track your body’s energy levels so you can find the best times for activity and rest.
INTENSITY MINUTES lets you know when you were doing vigorous activities throughout the day.
FITNESS AGE technology uses your age, your resting heart rate, and other various factors to figure out if your body is older or younger than you are.
RESPIRATION TRACKING will monitor your breathing throughout the day.
WOMEN’S HEALTH TRACKING is a cool feature for female athletes. It allows you to track your menstrual cycle or pregnancy using the Garmin Connect app.
The list of amenities goes on with the SMART NOTIFICATIONS. This lets you receive texts and emails right on your watch when you pair it with your smartphone.
SAFETY AND TRACKING FEATURES will send messages to your emergency contacts if you have an emergency or if the watch senses one.
You can control the songs being played from your smartphone with the MUSIC CONTROLS feature.
Let’s talk about the specs of the watch.
The lens material is chemically strengthened glass. I have worn this watch 24/7 for the past few weeks for all types of workouts.
I admit I have not been “gentle” with it. The face is unremarkable and always looks sleek. It comes with quick-release bands that are 20mm. The strap material is silicone.
The physical size is 42x42x11.6mm and will fit wrists with a circumference of 126-203mm. It weighs in at 37g. It is waterproof and has 5 ATMs. The memory and history will give you 200 hours of activity data.
The Forerunner 55 does not come with a touch screen. You must use the 5 buttons around the watch face to help you navigate where you want to go. The buttons are big which makes them easy to work and they are labeled.
The buttons are located 3 on the left side and 2 on the right side. I will go into more detail about what each button does.
-” UPPER LEFT”, this button is used to turn the light of the watch on and off. If you hold the button in for about 2 seconds it will take you to the main menu. This main menu has: -Power off
-Connecting your phone -Sync
-Do not disturb
-Find my phone
-Timer -Stopwatch -Add alarm -Lock keys
“Middle Left”, is labeled “up” and can be used to scroll through the different settings.
“Lower left”, is labeled “down” and will allow you to enter the activity menu. This button also lets you control the music once your phone is connected.
“Upper Right”, is the enter button and it lets you start and stop whatever activity you’re doing. “Lower Right”, is used to go back to the previous screen.
It didn’t take me long to learn how to navigate this watch. All the buttons are clearly marked and it’s set up to make it easy on you.
When you’re about to go on a run or participate in an activity you just push the ‘upper right’ button. This takes you to the activity menu. You pick the activity you will be doing. You can decide what activity appears here, so if your favorite exercise is swimming you can make sure that it appears front and center. Once that is done you will be connected with GPS. Each time I waited for the GPS to pick up a signal I didn’t wait longer than a few seconds.
At first, it seemed to take a bit longer but as the GPS became accustomed to the area in which I live, the lock on got quicker. It was pretty fast each time. This GPS provides you with the pace, distance, and time for your runs or other distance workouts. This built-in GPS is achieved by satellite support for Glonass and Galileo.
I have been training for long-distance running. Most of my events have been timed events to see how far you can run in the allotted time. My training hasn’t had many speed workouts recently. This updated version of the forerunner has a new feature that will give you training suggestions. All the suggestions are based on previous workouts and heart rates. I think this will benefit anyone new to working and in need of some guidance.
While running with this watch for the past few weeks I have done my own thing except for 1 time. I did the suggested workout and it made me run faster. This feature is separate from Garman Coach. Garmin Coach helps you set a training plan to help you meet a separate goal. There’s also a Garmin race predictor. This version is based on VO2 Max formulas. It takes into account your logged training history to figure out decently reliable race predictions. All the suggestions that this model recommended, I found to be fairly reasonable for a new runner. I will say that some of the workouts did seem somewhat too easy but I have to remind myself that I am a seasoned runner.
Running with the watch on feels and looks great. It’s fairly lightweight, most of the time I hardly even noticed it on my wrist. Checking it during my runs was a piece of cake. The screen is big and easy to read while on the move.
Each mile you hit you will hear the distinct Garmin signal as well as a buzz. I happen to like this feature because it makes me want to pick up my pace to get the signal sound and buzz to alert me again. On the screen during my runs, you can see real-time stats like distance, pace, lap time, lap distance, lap pace, and heart rate.
The focus of the FR55 is running, but you can also use it for outdoor cycling and pool swimming.
Before you can access any of your information on your watch you must first download the Garmin Connect App on your smartphone or computer.
After a run or workout session, you end the workout and save your information. Once this is complete, you’ll be able to see an in-depth overview of your workout. You can see your workout results on the watch but the information is limited. Right after I was finished with a run I would wait for it to be uploaded to the app and access it through there. This is connected over Bluetooth. You can decide if you want your phone connected all the time or only for certain occasions. If you stay connected all the time it uses more battery.
Looking at all my running and daily activity through the app is nice. Being able to have access to this current and past information has made me more aware of my recovery, sleep, and stress.
These are things I didn’t take into account over the past couple of years. The FR55’s Body Battery concept is basically this, the more you use your phone, the faster it runs out of battery. Our bodies work the exact same way.
It’s powered by Firstbeat analytics, which helps you keep tabs on how much you have left in your tank. It gives you an easy way to correlate stress, recovery, sleep, and physical activity. The higher the number (0-100), the greater your ability at that moment to focus, cope and bounce back from challenges.
Sleep and recovering moments replenish your Body Battery, and physical activity and stress, be it negative or positive, drain your inner reserves and diminish resiliency. This feature was eye-opening for me and has helped me make my training more productive.
Besides just waking a run and getting steps, I did use this watch for a few pool sessions. It’s 100% waterproof. My swimming sessions were anything crazy, mostly recovery workouts. During a swim, I could view the pace I was swimming, distance, drill logs and I could also use an automatic rest timer.
I take my kids on runs in the double stroller and one thing I didn’t like about the watch was that it didn’t pick up a lot of my steps when my hands were on the stroller. Not a big deal.
Another nice feature is if you are upgrading from an older Garmin watch, all your previous saved workouts and health data can be sent to your new watch through the Garmin Connect mobile app.
The battery life will hold up to two weeks and the GPS mode will hold up for roughly 20 hours. The accuracy of heart rate monitoring is pretty spot on when compared with Garmins HRM chest strap. But, if you want the best accuracy then I would suggest buying just a reliable heart rate monitor strap.
A great addition that Garmin is bringing to the table is SAFETY. They are putting in their new safety feature. The FR55 gets this bonus.
It detects incidents and has assistance features. To enable these features you must pair them to your smartphone. Once you do that and there would be an emergency, an alarm you raise attention to assigned contacts.
If you’re into running without your phone nearby then the only Garmin watch that will allow you to do that would be the Garmin Forerunner 945 LTE.
If you’re looking to save a little more money but want something similar to the Garmin Forerunner 55, then I would suggest Garmin Forerunner 45 or the Polar M200. The Garmin Forerunner 45 will cost you roughly $150.
The Polar M200 has wrist-based heart rate tracking, GPS, smartphone notifications, tracks your activity all day, training programs designed for your needs, varying color options, and a battery life that will last up for about a week. You’ll pay around $99 for it.
My conclusion of the FR55 would be that this watch ROCKS!
I haven’t tried a ton of other watches in the past, but from the ones I have tried and from talking with other runners, you just simply cannot beat the price point of the FR55.
The amount of technology Garmin packs into this entry watch is well beyond needed but graciously enjoyed. I would think that some of the pricey higher-end watches would be nervous about this watch because of all the great features this beginner watch offers.
Even though it does lack a touch screen and may take some time to get used to, the clearly marked 5 buttons make it simple to use under any circumstance. If you are new to smartwatches, have no fear.
Garmin will walk you through the setup process and you’ll be enjoying your new watch in no time.
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