The Forerunner 235 uses Optical Heart Rate technology, gathering data from the wrist rather than a chest strap (a chest strap can also be used). The watch is thin and noticeably light – the lightest on test. The inbuilt accelerometer measures data such as cadence and stride length, and is useful while running indoors on a treadmill, as it can estimate pace and distance. Operating the watch is straightforward, and the data displays can be customised to your preference, showing up to four fields per screen. Simple workouts can be created on the watch, while more complex sessions can be created and uploaded to the unit using Garmin’s online training tool, Garmin Connect. The 235 has a useful Finish Time Predictor telling you the distance remaining and your predicted finish time, which is great for racing and for race pace training runs. Cadence data helps you work towards an efficient technique, and alerts can be set to keep you training at a set pace, heart rate or distance. The watch tells you the training effect of each run, helping you get the right mix of hard and easy training, while the VO2 max estimator lets you track your fitness over time. Your post-run details can be uploaded to Garmin Connect either by USB or smartphone app (transfer to Strava is also straightforward). The 235 is designed to be worn all day and track activity such as steps taken, distance covered and calories burned, and can also be worn at night to record sleep patterns.
We liked Intuitive to set up and lightweight, so comfortable for everyday wear. Customisable data screens are easy to read while running.
Not so hot Optical Heart Rate recording was erratic, giving inaccurate readings at times, so a chest strap might be needed.
Get-faster session Try this interval session: Set the watch to do a 10min warm up in Zone 2, then six repeats of 800m sprints with a 200m jog recovery between each.
Lightweight, feature packed and really easy to use, although the Optical Heart Rate function might not be the most accurate all of the time.