Garmin Forerunner 610 Review

Let’s take a look at the physical setup of the Forerunner 610.  In addition to the touchscreen you will operate the unit with 2 “touch areas” located on the top of the bezel.  You will also have 3 “normal” buttons on the side of the watch.  One side button will provide functions for the watch to turn on and off, turn on the backlight, and search for a compatible weight scale.  Another will start and stop the timer.  The last will be used to mark new laps and reset the timer.  The touch areas on the top of the bezel will function to show and hide the menu and return the screen to the previous page.  Icons are available that will show you:  GPS is on and receiving signals, heart rate monitor is active, foot pod is active, bike sensor is active, watch is in power mode, fitness equipment is active.  You will find that the touchscreen is different than what you will find on most mobile devices.  It is designed so that you can operate it with your fingernail.  Due to the nature of training, it is optimized to prevent accidental touches during training sessions.  You can navigate through the sceens by tapping the screen or swiping across the screen with your finger.  While you are running you will be able to swipe the screen to show a number of different screens that will rotate through.  These screens are fully customizable by you as to the data fields you would like to show on each screen.  Visit the Garmin site for additional videos, photos, and updated information on the Garmin Forerunner 610.

 

Training

The Garmin Forerunner 610 training functionality which will include: run basics, alerts, auto lap, auto pause, auto scroll, virtual partner, virtual racer, interval workouts, custom workouts, bike training.  As with all Garmin Forerunner watches the first step is to connect to the satellites (or foot pod is working out inside).  If you have difficulty with the watch locking on to the satellites then try taking it off and setting it on a flat surface the same way as it would sit on your wrist.  With the watch stable if will have an easier time picking up the GPS signal.  When started, the Forerunner 610 will display the timer along with the distance and lap pace.  These are the default settings and fields which can be further customized by the user.  To help aid in the discipline of training, the 610 allows the setting up of alerts: time, distance, and calorie.  When you reach an alert amount, the watch will beep and display a message.  If you have optional equipment  such as the heart rate monitor, foot pod, or GSC 10 (bike speed/cadence) then you can also program alerts for heart rate and cadence.  The heart rate feature lets you set a high and low heart rate value which is registered in beats per minute.  The cadence can be a function of either the foot pod (steps per minute) or the bike GSC 10 (revolutions of the crank arm per minute).  Visit Active.com for running programs from beginners to elite runners. Once set, the Forerunner 610 will alert you whether you go over or under your preset parameters.  If you are on a running program that calls for walking breaks (i.e. the program calls for 4 minutes running then a 1 minute walk break) then you will be able to program the 610 to alert you when walks are needed.  Once set the run/walk alerts will continue until you stop the timer.

You can use the auto lap function to mark laps either by distance or position.  You can preset the distance where the watch will automatically mark a lap once that distance is reached.  By position will allow you to mark your laps with 2 different options. The first is Lap Press Only – once you select lap at a position each time you pass those positions again it will trigger the lap marker.  Next is Start and Lap –  you trigger the lap counter at the GPS location in which you select start and a any location during the run where you select Lap.  Mark and Lap – this will trigger laps at a specific GPS location marked before the run and any location during the run where you select Lap.

Auto pause will automatically pause the timer on the watch when you stop moving or your speed drops below a pre-specified value.  You may want to use this option if you run in areas with traffic, stop lights, etc. where you may be forced to slow down or stop repeatedly.  Not counting these slow downs will allow your stats to more accurately reflect your training.  Since you will most likely want to see more data fields than one screen will allow, the Forerunner 610 has an auto scroll feature which will automatically cycle through the training pages while the timer is running.  You will be able to control the speed of the scroll.  You will be able to customize the training pages with the fields that you specify for each page.  There are many specific fields available which fall under these categories: cadence, calories, distance, elevation, grade, heading, heart rate, laps, pace, speed, time.  Many runners have certain numbers that they feel are more relevant for their general training program or specific workouts, and the customizability of the 610 will give all runners what they want to see.

For the goal defined runner the Forerunner 610 features both Virtual Partner and Virtual Racer.  You know the situation in races that with other runners around you, the ability to find additional energy and run faster helps push you to faster times than you can achieve in training by yourself.  The Virtual Partner and Virtual Racer can be those other runners to push you to your goals in training.  With Virtual Partner you can preset a speed or pace before you start on your run.  When you scroll to the Virtual Partner page you will see distance ahead/behind, time ahead/behind, and a visual of you and your virtual partner with the pace displayed.  This can be a great motivational tool.  The Virtual Racer goes even a step further.  You can race against your own activity or one transferred from your computer.  You can do a practice run on the actual race route and save it to your Forerunner 610.  When race day comes around, you can race against that practice time.  You will be pushed by the Virtual Racer as you cover the same hills and sprints to the finish line.  Once you paired your watch with the computer through the USB ANT Stick then you can download activities to race against.  You can also create interval workouts and custom workouts for your training programs.

The Garmin Forerunner 610 can also be utilized in bike training.  You specifically go in to the setup and change the sport to Cycling.  This will allow all your cycling training statistics and running statistics to be properly displayed as such.  When you change the sport to Cycling you can go in and setup your alerts, auto lap, auto pause, and auto scroll settings for your bike training.  When you pair your 610 with the optional GSC 10 Speed/Cadence sensor you will maximize the training data for your bike training.

The Forerunner will be compatible with the following ANT+ accessories:  USB ANT Stick – this allows you to wirelessly transmit your data from watch to computer, Heart rate monitor, Foot pod, GSC 10, Weight scale, Fitness equipment.  Garmin offers 2 free software options for storing and analyzing your training history (note that there are also many 3rd party options which offer Forerunner compatibility).  Garmin Connect is a web based software.  Garmin Training Center runs on your computer once it has been downloaded from the internet.  You will also be able to track your Training Effect.  Training effect measure the impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness level.  This training effect accumulates during the activity.  While the training activity progresses, the training effect value increases, this in turn is telling you the degree to which the training activity has improved your fitness.  Training effect is determined by your user profile information, heart rate, duration, and intensity of your activity.  Training effect technology is provided by FirstBeat Technologies Ltd.

What’s in the Box:

Watch Only Version

  • Forerunner 610
  • AC charger
  • Charging cradle
  • USB ANT stick
  • Quick start manual
  • Owner’s manual on disk

 

Heart Rate Monitor Version

  • Forerunner 610
  • Premium heart rate monitor
  • AC charger
  • Charging cradle
  • USB ANT stick
  • Quick start manual
  • Owner’s manual on disk

 

Garmin Forerunner 610 Stats

Dimensions: WxHxD  1.8″ x 2.5″ x 0.56″

Display Size:    1.0″ diameter

Display Resolution:   128 x 128 pixels

Touchscreen

Weight:   2.54 oz

Battery:   Rechargable lithium-ion

Battery Life:  4 weeks in power save mode; 8 hours in training mode

Water Resistant:  IPX7