The largest growing sector of sports events open to all levels of athletes is road running.  From 5ks to full marathons filling up faster, and events like the Boston Marathon inspiring more folks to join the sport, new runners are lacing up and hitting the road.  Perhaps you looked around and saw your friends running and thought, maybe I’ll join them!  And as you really get into it, and want to know everything from how far you are running to how fast you are going, you will likely notice how many runners have GPS watches.  Is there one that would fit your needs?  Fear not-as we delve into the world of high tech wrist gear, we will break down the differences of the Garmin Forerunner series for you. Some runners call their watch their most important tool in their sport; I call mine Jessie.

The Basics All Garmin watches in the Forerunner (FR) family are GPS (Global Positioning System) enabled. Your exact position is located thanks to 24 orbiting satellites eleven thousand nautical miles in the sky. Each watch will track your start coordinates, follow you through your run or ride and continue with you to your finish line. In doing so, you have access to other pieces of information, such as total time, pace and calories burned. Each Garmin FR watch also allows you to log your workouts with Garmin Connect, a community based website for enthusiasts who want to track their progress online.

Forerunner 10  Priced at $129.99, it’s perfect for the student athlete, beginner or social runner. This lightweight and stylish watch comes in 5 colors and incorporates GPS while maintaining its “very user-friendly” status. It gives you 2 screens, each with 2 customizable fields: Distance, Total Time, Instantaneous Pace, and Calories. This is literally the GPS watch that you can turn on, answer 5 questions on screen, and hit the road for your first run. It has the most accurate instant pace on the market, with new hardware and software and even keeps track of your Personal Records, celebrating with you whenever you hit a new PR on that 5k or half marathon! While this watch is ideal for getting your feet wet in the GPS watch world, it does have some limitations: 5 hour battery life while connected to GPS; no heart rate monitor; no foot pod accessory; and not compatible with other gym equipment.

The Forerunner 210  Heart rate zone training has scientifically proven to be the best means to exert the least amount of energy and yet allows you to challenge yourself to push the limits when the time is right. With the FR 210, ($199.99 w/o HRM, $249.99 with HRM) you can do exactly that with its programmable zones and alerts. Your watch will tell you when it is ideal to pick up the speed, and when it may be better to build that endurance base by maintaining a lower HR zone for longer. The HRM is an optional accessory for the FR 210, as is the Foot Pod, which tracks your cadence and is ideal for the individual who does indoor and outdoor running sessions. Finally, the 3 training pages are great: Main Page shows total distance, total time and pace (customizable to which pace you’d like to see), Lap Page shares with you just the data from your current lap, and HR page pulls in that crucial heart rate data.

Forerunner 610  This watch is truly designed to be your best friend: the one who will do anything to make you happy, from customizing each of the 4 screens of data with only the information that you want to see, and capturing up to pieces 4 of data on each screen, to providing you with a Virtual Partner to make sure you are keeping your desired pace. It can take you back home after a long run, with a “back to start” function that will guide you back the way you came, or navigate you to a saved location, like your car or up to 100 other locations. It has a vibrate alert because it doesn’t want to interfere with your music or distract you from nature with loud beeps (if you don’t want it to).The FR 610 uses a touch screen interface which is optimized to prevent accidental brushes with the screen. It is water resistant as well. And, like all good friends, at $349.99 w/o HRM and $399.99 with HRM, it makes you look good too, which is such an important part of technological friendship.

So there you have it, the family of Garmin Forerunner watches designed specifically with runners in mind. They make you smarter and look better out on each and every run, walk or hike. Whether it’s a Forerunner 10, 210 or 610, there is a watch for you and your needs as an athlete in training.