At the time of its debut, the Garmin Forerunner 45 was a fantastic running watch and our favorite budget option on the market. Garmin has improved on everything that was excellent about its predecessor with the Garmin Forerunner 55, including longer battery life and a slew of useful new features for runners such as daily advised workouts, a recovery adviser, and a track run mode.
However, the Forerunner 55 faces greater competition for the title of best budget running watch than its predecessor, with the outstanding Coros Pace 2 available at the same price. Is it therefore worth your money? Continue reading to discover out.
What exactly do you get for your money?
The Forerunner 55 is Garmin’s latest entry-level running watch, with a starting price of £180, although it’s worth noting that its predecessor, the Forerunner 45, is now available for much under £150. Outside of Garmin’s own devices, its primary rivals are the Coros Pace 2 (£180) and the Polar Ignite 2 (£195).
Unlike the Forerunner 45, which had a smaller “S” variant, the Forerunner 55 is only available in the bigger (but still very nice) 42mm size and features a 1.04in (26.3mm) 208 by 208 pixel screen. The display is smaller and lower-resolution than on most other Garmins.
Despite its entry-level position and small size, the 55 is packed with strong sports monitoring and training analysis features, with several of those functions seeping down from more expensive versions like the Forerunner 245.
Moreover, it includes all of the necessary sports monitoring sensors, such as built-in GPS (with GLONASS and Galileo), an accelerometer, and Garmin’s Elevate heart-rate sensor. It also has a GPS battery life of 20 hours and a watch mode battery life of up to 14 days, both of which are significant upgrades over the Forerunner 45, which had a GPS battery life of 13 hours and a watch mode battery life of seven days.
At only 37g, it is incredibly comfortable to wear on your wrist 24 hours a day, tracking your daily activity, stress levels, sleep, and sports. The watch is water resistant to 50 meters and can track pool swims but not open-water swims. It can also communicate with external sensors through Bluetooth and ANT+.
What has changed?
Two new Forerunner 55 features are not entirely new to the Forerunner 45 series. The race predictor provides you an expected time for 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon events, and the recovery advisor tells you how long you need to recuperate after each run. Both appeared on the lesser-known Forerunner 45 Plus, which was released last year and was only available from Argos and Garmin.
The Forerunner 55’s other new features have all been seen on prior Garmins, but never at this price point. The suggested workouts you receive each day may be the main draw. They are based on your recent training and will help you balance your runs between easy, tempo, and interval sessions to help you develop.
PacePro, a clever pacing tool to assist meet target times in races, is another new feature we’ve loved on previous Garmins that has made its way down to the Forerunner 55.
I’ve used PacePro on undulating half marathons and marathons, and it helps you assess your efforts on the uphills properly. It can also be handy on a flat course for running a negative split and avoiding starting too quickly and blowing out.
Garmin’s track run mode has also been added to the Forerunner 55. This delivers more precise distance monitoring by utilizing a smart algorithm to lock onto the track after a lap or two, resulting in better pace information. It’s a helpful mode that produces gorgeous GPS traces that are posted to Strava, albeit it’s not nearly as dependable as utilizing the white lines that measure distance on the trail itself.
Another new sports mode is pool swimming, which gives the Forerunner 55 a considerably more complete sports watch than its predecessor, but it still lacks a multisports mode and open-water swimming, both of which are essential for triathletes.
What do we enjoy?
The Forerunner 55 provides a superb all-around experience, particularly for runners. While it is at the lower end of Garmin’s price range, it includes all of the fundamentals that runners of all abilities want, as well as some useful extras like suggested programs.
For beginning runners, the training and recuperation suggestions are really helpful and can surely help you progress as a runner and learn about the many forms of training that are worth practicing on a constant basis. Garmin Coach’s organized training plans for 5K, 10K, and half marathons (which you can sync to the watch from the Garmin Connect app) are especially useful for individuals training for the first time, as well as those looking to set a new personal best.
The GPS and heart-rate tracking are both accurate. When it comes to GPS, the Forerunner 55 took a while to lock on the first time I used it, but it has been quite quick after then, and the distances logged have been broadly in line with other watches I use, as well as my own expectations.
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is an amazing running watch that is a step up from what Garmin has previously supplied at this price. This is most likely a reaction to the debut of the superb Coros Pace 2, which costs the same amount.
When it comes to features, the Pace 2 wins. It has a longer battery life of 30 hours and a larger, higher-resolution screen. There’s also a triathlon mode and the ability to measure running power natively from the wrist, as well as extensive training analysis using Coros’ fantastic new EvoLab capabilities.
The Forerunner 55, on the other hand, has some nice tricks that the Pace 2 lacks, such as suggested workouts and the PacePro feature, so while more experienced runners and sporty types may like the Pace 2’s larger feature set, beginning runners are probably better off with the Forerunner 55.