Garmin 220 Update and Review thus far.

At the end of April I cashed in my birthday present from my parents and got a new Garmin GPS running watch, the Garmin 220. I had had the Garmin Forerunner 10 for a couple of years and was looking for an upgrade, mostly because I wanted a heart rate monitor and a few more screen options. The sweetest Anna at Piper’s Run asked how I was liking my new watch so I thought I should give a quick update on the Garmin 220!

I. LOVE. IT. I read a crazy in depth review about the watch, that you can find here, before I bought it and after debating between the 220 and the 620 I settled on the 220. It has all the bells and whistles that I need for about 2/3 the cost of the 620. Also, it is purple… enough said. 

I thought it might be weird having a bit bulkier of a watch compared to the Forerunner 10 but it is so light you won’t even notice a difference if you are upgrading. Some of the older Garmin watches are HUGE and quite heavy but they have really condensed all of their technology so both the 220 and the 620 are light and pretty much the same size as a normal watch. I have even worn this watch to work a couple of times because of how light and out-of-the-way it is. 

The battery life on this watch is AWESOME. If I had known that it would actually last as long as advertised, I would have upgraded sooner. I believe the website will tell you that the 220 can do up to 10 hours of active time (when you are actually running) and that has proven more than true. If I go for about an hour run, starting with 100% battery, I will return home and my watch will still have 93% battery left whereas I would need to recharge my Forerunner 10 almost every time I used it. 

I don’t think I had ever worn a heart rate monitor in my life before purchasing this watch. The thought of wearing an uncomfortable chest strap while running a bunch of miles was terrifying because chaffing sucks. I have heard of people getting sliced across their chest from wearing these things or having them rub so bad that it bled but I am happy to report I experienced none of that. Garmin modified their chest strap in recent models and it is so comfortable I don’t even know it is there. I thought I would at least have to get used to it while running but I haven’t had any issues from the moment I put it on for the first time. 

I really do love running with my HR monitor. I have been running without one for so long and probably will still run without it on the occasional run but it is pretty useful information for me. I like seeing how much effort I am exerting at different paces. Also, when I run up a hill, I can compare my HR to flat-surface running to see what “effort” I am running at and not necessarily focus on my pace. 

For example, my heart rate is normally close to 158 or 160 bpm while running an 8:00 min/mile. If I am running at about 8:40 min/mile and my HR is about 148-152 bpm and then I start climbing a hill, and my HR shoots up to 160 bpm, I know that even though my pace may have slowed down, my effort is approximately equivalent to if I were running an 8:00 min/mile. This is kind of the reason why many experts say hill training is just speed work in disguise. You are simply adding resistance to your run and making your cardiovascular system work harder… ultimately training your body to run faster. Pretty neat.

Another feature I like is the cadence. One of my summer goals is to improve my running form and that includes cadence. I tend to hover at about 170 spm, or strides per minute, while the ideal is said to be about 180. A quicker turnover can mean faster running, or at least more efficient running. 

I love the multiple options for your screens. You can scroll through four different screens while running… two changeable screens that can hold your time, distance, average pace, lap pace, lap distance, average pace, current pace, etc., a HR screen that shows your current heart rate and HR zone, and a time screen that functions as a basic watch. I like having the average pace showing for my run, except when I am running a marathon feeling so so sick and am forced to watch that number creep up and up and up 😉

One of the coolest features that I haven’t really taken advantage of until today is the accelerometer. Even though this is a GPS watch, you can run on an indoor track or treadmill and the watch will use the accelerometer to tell you how far you have gone and your pace. I tried it out today and it wasn’t 100% accurate but close enough to give you a rough estimate, especially useful on a track so you don’t have to count laps. I ran 4.0 miles on the treadmill and my watch said I had done 3.86. I was running at an easy 9:00 min/mile and my watch gave me 9:22 min/mile for my average. I have only tried it the one time so I don’t know how accurate it is overall for different runs at different speeds!

I really do love this watch and I am really glad I upgraded from the Forerunner 10. The Forerunner 10 is definitely a GREAT watch and is super easy to use, affordable, and perfect for a runner who is just starting out! The extra features that come with the 220 are just that… extra. I really like running with a heart rate monitor and I think it will prove really useful for speed work and future marathon training! 

BUT, if you want to save your money and not spend $400 on a new watch, you could put it towards something more practical… like THESE.

Have YOU tried these Reese Peanut Butter cup Oreos? 

If you have an accelerometer in your watch, how accurate is it?


  1. Um I did not know that those oreos existed, but finding and eating them is now my number one priority for today 🙂

    I’ve had my 210 for a few years now, and it’s still going strong! I don’t use the heart rate monitor so I can’t speak for that, but everything else seems to be fairly accurate. And even though I can’t see it dying anytime soon, the purple 220 is really cute and really tempting. Thanks for the awesome review, and congrats on the marathon!

  2. There are Reese Peanut Butter cup Oreos??
    I have the 620 and have found that the watch is fairly accurate indoors with some exceptions. For example, if you do most of your running outside at a steady 8:00/mile pace, the watch does a very good job of tracking you on a treadmill or indoor track at the same steady 8:00/mile pace. I’ve found small issues with accuracy if I do a fast steady pace tempo run inside. And, I’ve found bigger accuracy issues if I do a interval workout on the indoor track – I think the accelerometer has problems keeping up with sudden and multiple changes in pace. Some reading I’ve done on the Garmin forums suggests that you can ‘calibrate’ the watch by first running 1km repeats outside at the paces you intend to run indoors. I haven’t tired it myself but I think it might work.

    – Shawn

    1. That was my first reaction to the Oreos too!! I think you are right about the accelerometer, for speed work it probably wouldn’t be great but for slower/steady runs it should be “fairly” accurate!

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