I’ve been training ALL year for the Ironman Wisconsin. My device of choice for tracking my workouts has been the Garmin 920xt. It’s a great little device and has some awesome features. I picked it up from eBay for 300 dollars in like new condition. It came in the original box and included the heart rate monitor.
Look and Feel
The watch looks pretty cool. It’s way better than my previous GPS watch. I had the Forerunner 301 and it was HUGE.
The new watch is much better.
It still isn’t small. Everyone once and awhile I will wear it around when not training and I’ve had several people comment on the size. I even had someone mention that it looked like I had a TV on my wrist. Overall, it doesn’t bother me. When I was running, bike or swimming, I had no problem. It fit comfortably and never got in the way.
The buttons are easy to use and obvious at their function. Once you get the feel for it you can click around really easily. The interface it super simple and allows for customizable views during training and customizable watch faces when you aren’t.
Use While Training
Training is really why I got this watch and I was super impressed. I’ll break it down by activity.
Riding with the watch is great. It monitors my speed and cadence really well. I never had problems with it drops GPS. It was comfortable enough to wear for 6+ hour rides. I kind of wish I would have bought a bike mount because checking your speed when you’re at 45 MPH is kinda tricky when you’re wearing a watch. I had setup a notification to display my pace at every 5 miles. The watch would beep and vibrate at this time and show the time elapsed during the duration of the last 5 miles. I also used this watch while on the trainer and while using Zwift. It connected easily to both my cadence and speed sensor on my bike.
Just as with biking, the watch was great for running. I was used to running with a phone strapped to my arm so the watch was a nice deviation. It was a lot lighter and easier to look at to gauge both my pace and distance. I setup a notification so that the watch would beep and vibrate every mile to show me my pace. This became almost necessary for me to ensure that I kept pace while running long distances. I’m horrible at this normally so I could easily check the pace whenever I felt a little out of it. I also used this watch to run on the treadmill and was extremely impressed by the accuracy when doing this. It was almost dead on with what the dreadmill was reading.
Swimming was probably the weakest sport for the watch but I don’t have an huge gripes against it. When I was in the pool it could easily track my laps. Every once and awhile it would drop a lap and by the end of a 2000 meter swim, it might register 1900 instead. When I was in open water the water was usually pretty accurate but I found that it didn’t do a good job of keeping pace throughout my swim. It only found my location at large intervals.
I also had a couple experiences where the watch just totally wonked out when I was swimming and registered some strange tracking like below. I was never in the middle or the lake nor on land during that swim.
The watch also offers a bunch of other features that are pretty common to other smart watches.
Direct Computer Connection and Charger
The Garmin comes with a USB charger and computer connector. It’s super proprietary and clips onto the base of the watch face and charges and syncs via 4 pins. I never had problems with the system. It linked to my computer and also charged from a wall outlet just fine.
Garmin Connect is the desktop software and web-based application for linking your watch and workouts. The Connect website has all kinds of features. It’s pretty slick. I never really took full advantage of the system but it does some neat stuff around reporting and connecting with others. It’s super modern and easy to use. I setup Connect to sync automatically to my Strava account and that’s where I did most of my workout tracking.
I did install a couple apps via Connect IQ and wasn’t super impressed by the quality or quantity of the apps available. My favorite apps were the watch faces. I used the Healthboy face the most.
I used bluetooth to sync all my workouts to my phone and then upload to Connect and eventually Strava. It worked fine. It required that I install the Garmin Connect app on my iPhone but once that was done it worked pretty automatically. I also setup phone notifications on my watch. Honestly, I really didn’t need to be notified of work emails during my work outs so it was kind of more annoying than anything. The only time I usually had my phone even close to me when working out though was when I was biking. Occasionally, it was nice when friends or family were trying to get a hold of me when I was out on a really long ride.
I couldn’t get this to work. You setup the wifi connect via the Garmin Connect desktop software and then the watch is supposed to connect to your wifi. Mine never worked. If it wasn’t for the bluetooth connection, this would have been a deal breaker for me.
This thing lasts forever. I could easily do a 7 hour ride and still have 60% power left. If you are training and using GPS, then it’s going to drain a lot faster but if you aren’t it will last days. It also charges pretty quickly. I usually just charged it when not training but whenever I needed a rush charge job it would only take an hour or two to get to a full charge.
I would recommend this watch to anyone serious about triathlon. My training wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without it.