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New Running Tool – Garmin Forerunner 305

Yesterday I picked up a new running toy, the Garmin Forerunner 305. In case my wife reads this, I meant to say running “tool” not “toy”.

REI has this bad boy sale priced at $164.99 which is a great price and $35 cheaper than I could find anywhere else. The 205 is also on sale and nicely priced at $124.99. From my understanding, the main difference between the 305 and 205 is the added heart rate functionality on the 305. I have been heart rate training for the last seven years, so this feature made it pretty easy for me to decide which unit to purchase.

Garmin 305

Garmin 305 and Included Heart Rate Monitor

The main features that I immediately plan to use are pace, heart rate, and distance. These three features along will provide a huge amount of feedback and training flexibility. The pace and distance were both missing from my HRM.

A running buddy of mine and his wife have used the 205 for probably over a year now and have been completely satisfied. They are both marathoners so they have put their units (they each have one) through the miles and now say they would not be without them. That coming from anti-running-gadget runners. With recommendations like this, my usual hours of research before a purchase were nearly eliminated. Thanks TJ!

Inside the Box

The contents included:

  • the watch
  • heart rate monitor
  • charging/connect-to-PC cradle
  • pin removal tool (to remove the wrist straps)
  • extension wrist strap (for those extremely large wrists)
  • wall charger
  • Garmin Training Center software
  • manual and quick-start guide

Garmin 305 - Inside the box

I wanted to give the unit a test drive this morning during a run so I looked at the Set up and go! quick-start guide, charged up the unit for three hours (recommended) and it was ready for the maiden voyage. I wasn’t concerned with customizing anything at this point, I just want to see the thing work and not trip over a curb in the process.

Initial Thoughts

With the unit being a bit bulkier than my polar heart rate monitor, I was curious if I would notice a difference with how the watch fit on my wrist or if it would feel weighty. Once strapped on, the watch immediately felt quite natural. Nice! The Garmin did feel slightly heavier than my Polar when doing the unofficial watch-in-hand lift test. But once on the wrist and running, it was a non-issue.

Garmin 305 and Polar S210

Garmin 305 and Polar S210

The Run

Liked it! Being able to observe my pace and distance virtually real-time for the 5.50 mile run was extremely nice. Once I customize the display a bit, I have a feeling my appreciation for this unit will only increase.

I will provide more of my thoughts on this unit in the weeks and months ahead.

Update 5/03/09: Amazon has one of the best prices around unless you can find it on sale somewhere.

Happy Training!

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About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

14 Responses to “New Running Tool – Garmin Forerunner 305”

  1. on 18 May 2008 at 12:26 pm Peter

    So I followed the link and REI now have the 305 at $299.

    From $164.99 to $299 in just two weeks – yikes!

  2. on 18 May 2008 at 2:22 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Peter,

    REI had a huge sale and some great prices. Unfortunately the prices were gone after a week. also sells the Garmin and currently I have seen it for $215 (free shipping).

    Good luck and I hope you find something that works for you!

  3. on 01 Dec 2008 at 9:32 am Rebecca

    REI happens to have the Forerunner 305 on sale again. Only through today, December 1st. It’s down to $159.99 !!! I’m picking it up today !!

  4. on 01 Dec 2008 at 11:57 am David Hanenburg

    Hey Rebecca – Excellent find, enjoy it!

  5. on 08 Jan 2009 at 3:49 pm Jason

    Costco has it on sale until 1/18/09 for $159

  6. on 09 Jan 2009 at 1:53 pm David Hanenburg

    Excellent, thanks Jason!

  7. on 01 Apr 2009 at 4:17 pm Kathy


    I’ve been reading blogs about the Garmin 305, and the one person that did mention the calorie count function, indicated that it was “bogus”. My husband has a G305 (I just bought mine from Amazon, so it has yet to arrive) and he comes back from his walk saying he’s burned 1000+ calories (he’s 6’0″ and 220 pounds, 4.0mph pace and walks about 7 miles or so). What’s your take on the calories burned? Accurate or not?

    Thanks, Kathy

  8. on 02 Apr 2009 at 12:46 pm David Hanenburg

    Hi Kathy –

    After a bit of digging around, it does appear that there are some gripes with the calorie count function. I personally don’t use (or pay attention) to this feature so I was unaware of the current hub-bub.

    In general, all calorie count tools are a bit bogus but some may be more bogus than others depending on how they calculate the estimated value or what people get used to expecting. Note the word ‘estimated’.

    Looking on the Garmin website support section, it appears that the Forerunner and Edge units use a combination of speed, weight, and time to determine calorie count.

    Based on the workout you provided for your husband, I inserted the data into three online calculators and here are the results:

    Data input: 220 lbs at 4mph for 7 miles
    Calorie estimate output for walking: 873 calories

    Data input: 220 lbs, 105 minutes (1hr 45min), walking 4 mph
    Calorie estimate output: 900 calories

    Data input: 220 lbs and 4 mph
    Calorie estimate output for walking: 875 calories

    Based on these three examples, your husbands ~1000 cals Garmin data is different from these other estimators by 10-13% depending on the tool used.

    If you noticed, the online tools all include the type of activity being done as well. The Garmin does not incorporate this fact into its algorithm even though some will say there is no difference in caloric use for running versus walking the same distance. My mind doesn’t quite agree with that but that may be my problem.

    The Garmin has only three data inputs (weight, speed, and time) and I would think there could be a wide variation in accuracy even for walking/running due to elevation changes, terrain, personal body variations, and other factors I am probably not aware of.

    This would be true for all typical plug-and-chug calculators I would think.

    So in the end, what does all of this mean? 🙂

    Your could use some of the above mentioned online calculators (or other ones you find) that specifically include the activity type as part of its algorithm if you feel those numbers are more accurate. Honestly, we don’t know which is more accurate.

    Another option would be to use the Garmin values as relative values not actual values. Over time it could be used as an exercise guide similar to time or distance. Ex: I want to exercise(walk) 1500 cals today. This would likely not mean a true 1500 cals but be a relative value.

    In the end, all of this calorie counting stuff is a bit of a fudge. If calorie numbers really matter to you, I would say to decide on a method you feel most comfortable with and ignore the rest. Then observe how your clothes fit and how your body feels over time to help guide you on your journey.

    If you made it this far, I hopes this helps in some way. 🙂

  9. on 08 Apr 2009 at 8:46 am Brady

    I just got the 305 at Best Buy for a mere $159.99!!

  10. on 08 Apr 2009 at 8:50 am David Hanenburg

    Hey Brady – great find! It really is a fun and useful tool. Enjoy it! Thanks for sharing.

  11. on 10 Apr 2009 at 3:47 pm Julie

    I will say that I noticed a HUGE discrepency in the calorie counter, as well. I am an avid tracker of my caloric expenditure. I do marathons and also train for fitness competitions. I always wear a heart rate monitor. I currently use the s610i. I have been using this for a while now. Typically, it takes me 60minutes to burn somewhere in the range of 550calories. This is running at 9minute mile pace or level 10-12 on the stepmill. My heart rate ranges from 145-165 because I vary the intensity throught the duration to keep my body guessing. Thats about a 70-85%MHR, which means I am pushing it quite hard. When I wore my Garmin and did the same workout, it took me 60 minutes to burn only 200calories!!! It really messed with my head and I haven’t been able to use it since. Do you think the Garmin is programmed for running outdoors specifically rather than indoors activity??? Maybe the running altitude/grade change plays a key. I am not sure but the calorie count seems waaaay out of calibration. When I use my Polar, it is consistent, indoors or outdoors. Any thoughts? Also, what’s up with the pace and distance counter? Do you have to run a mile before it will start telling you your pace? That doesn’t seem to be working either! I am very frustrated about this product.

  12. on 10 Apr 2009 at 7:24 pm David Hanenburg

    Hi Julie – In your situation the calorie function will not work indoors with the Garmin 305.


    Per the Garmin website support section, the Forerunner and Edge units use a combination of speed, weight, and time to determine calorie count.

    As you can see, working out indoors on a stationary device will not provide calorie information remotely close. Not a lot of “speed” happening.

    Per the Polar website:
    OwnCal takes into account your gender, body weight, exercise heart rate and exercise duration. In addition to these some products also take into account maximum heart rate (HRmax), maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) and resting heart rate (HRrest/sit).

    As you can see the Garmin and Polar do not calculate calories in the same fashion. You can use the Polar indoors because speed is not a variable, heart rate is used.

    The Garmin uses GPS and will not be able to tell you pace and distance unless you are actually physically moving.

    I feel the Garmin is more tailored to be used outside. The heart rate functionality will still work indoors though.

    The Polar and Garmin products are great in my mind (I have them both) but you need to be aware of the proper environment to best use them and what data is important to you.

    Hopefully this helps a bit.

  13. on 13 Apr 2009 at 12:30 pm Julie

    Hi David!

    Thanks for the response! That really helps to clear things up a lot. I took my Garmin out this weekend on a 16mile run in preparation for the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon and everything seemed to be in working order. I didn’t notice any information on average pace so maybe all that calculates after you upload your workout in the software program? But the calorie feature said that I burned 1,886 calories. Holy wow! When I am on the treadmill running, I don’t burn near as many. So I guess outdoors is much more difficult, at least comparing the Garmin to the Polar. This is quite the learning experience. Thanks for all your help! Very helpful information.

  14. on 13 Apr 2009 at 8:21 pm David Hanenburg

    Julie –

    I am happy to hear things are working a bit better.

    Concerning avg pace:

    This information can definitely be visible while you run. It may not be by default but it definitely can be configured.

    You have the ability to customize three different pages (viewable screens). On each page you can have anywhere from one to four data fields (see the Appendix for the complete list of data field items). ‘Avg pace’ is in this list. The list actually is quite extensive.

    I currently have Pace, Heart Rate, Distance, and Time (total time training/racing during the particular session/event). After each mile the Garmin beeps and displays my avg pace for that particular mile which is kind of nice.

    Switching between different pages is simply using the ‘up’ and ‘down’ arrows on the right side of the Garmin but honestly I don’t use more than one page (with four data fields) much. One of my pages does only include the actual time which I may reference once in a while.

    I am sure you can see all the “particulars” once you upload into the computer software as well. I am not sure if you are familiar with but I believe they are now owned by Garmin and will be transitioning to Garmin Connect as noted on the MB website. It is a free online tool that I prefer to use to look at my race/training data. It is a free tool.

    Here is an example of the Motion Based output from a recent trail marathon to give you an idea:

    Click on the ‘Dashboard’ button and you should see all of the info available to chew on.

    Concerning the calorie count:

    Running outside is probably harder than running on the treadmill. How that definitely translates to calorie count, you could assume it would probably be greater outdoors.

    Realize whether you look at Garmin or Polar, both numbers are more than likely a fudge. Our individual bodies are way more complex than what three data points can remotely comprehend. Considered ballpark numbers – probably assuming conditions (terrain, grade, personal muscle mass, etc, etc, etc) aren’t extreme.

    I have heard that a very general calorie guide for running is 100 cals per mile. But again, this has fudge-cicle written all over it so I hate to even mention it. We are not computers or machines. Let you clothes (how they fit) over time and intuition add some guidance.

    Good luck in the marathon!

    Hopefully this adds a bit more clarity.

    If you have more questions or thoughts – fire away! 🙂