I’ve had my Garmin Forerunner 735XT for over 12 months now.
When I bought it I was fully in with the Fitbit crowd but I soon realised Garmin could offer so much more.
I was getting into running at the time and I wanted a watch which was more focused towards running rather than fitness tracking.
And Garmin Forerunners do that in droves.
As watches go, the Garmin Forerunner 735XT isn’t anything to write home about when it comes to looks.
It’s round and it’s plastic.
The good thing is when you’re wearing it, you barely notice it on your wrist.
It’s not too chunky yet it looks reasonably robust.
It’s light and will fit most wrists with ease.
I’ve not managed to scratch the watch face yet even though I’ve bumped it a number of times.
The one thing I find strange about the design is that it doesn’t make use of the entire round area of the face.
There’s a bit cut off the top and bottom which makes analogue watch faces look distinctly odd.
It’s a shame but not a game changer.
I go running four times a week; each run being between six and ten miles long.
I can get between four to six days out of the watch before I need to charge it.
That’s with GPS tracking enabled for the runs and a Connect IQ watch face enabled.
Compared to the Fitbit Surge that’s a huge improvement on what I was getting.
I’m sure I could increase that by using the standard watch face and turning heart monitoring off.
But I’m more than satisfied with battery life so I don’t need to!
The thing I find particularly useful on the Garmin Forerunner 735XT is that you can program your own training workouts.
You can either
- put them together yourself on Garmin Connect and sync them to your watch;
- download a prepared set of workouts from Garmin Connect;
- or use an external service such as TrainAsONE.
It can get a little annoying if you don’t give yourself enough flexibility in the goals ranges you set.
You don’t want the watch to be buzzing at you every few seconds after all.
With the 735XT I also make use of the Virtual Partner feature.
You can set a target pace or speed on the watch and it will detail how far ahead or behind that pace you are as well as your average pace.
One thing I felt was missing from the Fitbit Surge was the move alert.
Writing for a blog means I spend quite a lot of my time sitting around looking at a computer screen.
It’s great that the Garmin Forerunner 735XT gives me a nudge if I’ve been sitting around for a while.
And it keeps nudging me for two hours.
The move bar gradually fills up over that time until you move and the bar won’t empty until you’ve walked enough steps.
I also like the fact that your daily step goal isn’t stuck at 10,000 steps.
It’s dynamic with Garmin watches and changes depending on how active you’ve been during the previous days.
It motivates me to move as much as I possibly can each day to increase the step goal.
If you wear the 735XT 24-7 it’ll track your sleep habits.
It can determine when you went to sleep and when you woke up.
And in between it will know the difference between light and deep sleep.
If you wake up during the night, it will also detect that too.
You can check out the results on your Garmin Connect dashboard.
With Connect IQ, you can extend how you use your Garmin Forerunner 735XT.
It’s a platform which allows you to explore and download apps to enhance your watch.
I use a Connect IQ watch face but there are also lots of data fields and widgets to choose from.
Strava Live Segments
I like the competitiveness of Strava Segments.
They give me something to pit myself against.
You have to have a premium Strava account to use them though.
You choose the segments you want to load onto your watch by starring them on Strava.
Then when you go running, you’ll be alerted on approaching the start of a segment and when it starts.
You can see how you’re doing against various things:
- Goal (if you’ve set one for the segment);
- Rival (the next person above you that you’ve followed on the leaderboard;
- Personal Record;
- King/Queen of the mountain (KOM/QOM).
Bluetooth Connected Features
You can connect the 735XT to your smartphone using the Garmin Connect mobile app.
And with that you can get automatic uploads of your activities as soon as you finish your run.
These can be automatically posted to your favourite social media website too if you want.
Connecting to Garmin Connect also means that software updates can be wirelessly downloaded for your convenience.
Another bluetooth connected feature allows you to receive phone notifications and messages on the 735XT.
Using LiveTrack allows friends and family to follow your races and training activities in real time.
This is a particularly useful safety feature so people will know where you are if you’re out running alone.
Challenges Of The Garmin Forerunner 735XT
As much as I love using the Garmin Forerunner 735XT, I have faced a couple of challenges with it.
Very occasionally when I attach the charging clip to the watch it will crash and reboot.
The trouble is that when it does that all of the data for that day is gone from the watch.
You can’t sync the information back from Garmin Connect to the watch either.
When I got my watch, I bought the Run Bundle which included an HRM-Run monitor with it.
I forgot the monitor when we went on holiday for a week but thought nothing of it because I used the wrist heart rate monitor instead.
On trying to pair the HRM-Run monitor with the 735XT on my return, it wouldn’t connect.
The watch wouldn’t recognise the monitor whatever I did. I tried everything I could think of.
- I changed the battery;
- I went out running hoping it would start working when I started to sweat;
- I wore the monitor so the pads were on my back rather than my chest, and;
- I tried to reset it.
Thankfully Garmin replaced the monitor and all was well.
I hope it doesn’t happen again soon!