The new Garmin Forerunner 55 is a low-cost running watch with beneficial extra functions. It covers all of the main criteria for novice runners.
The Forerunner watch was, for a long time, the best budget running watch you could get. Definitely, the case when both the Forerunner 35 and 45 were first released.
The Forerunner 55, on the other hand, is up against fierce competition. At just under $200, roughly the same cost as the excellent Coros Pace 2. To address Coros’ threat, Garmin has incorporated several key features from its more expensive running watches into the 55. Plus, it increased the battery life to 20 hours of GPS (from 13). But, of course, when you’re not using the GPS, the battery life is likewise excellent.
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However, are these improvements substantial enough to elevate the Forerunner 55 to the top of the budget running watch rankings?
Garmin Forerunner 55 Features
The Forerunner 55 also has race forecasts and post-workout recuperation suggestions in addition to the battery upgrade. Those aren’t available on the Forerunner 45 but were available on the Forerunner 45 Plus, a strange “in-between” device.
Suggestion workouts are a new function on Garmin’s entry-level Forerunner 55 that gives you a daily recommended run based on your previous training load. However, you can’t verify it like you can on Garmin’s more expensive watches.
The suggested activities and the Garmin Coach training regimes for 5K, 10K, and even half marathons are still helpful. Especially for beginner runners. Even cooler, you can load Garmin’s training plans, and session recommendations can help if you’re unsure how to plan your jogging. While the workout recommendations aren’t perfect, following Garmin’s advice will help you keep fit and get faster. In addition, you’ll quickly learn what types of workouts to do as a runner.
Track and Virtual Run
Another cool new feature of the Garmin Forerunner 55 is Garmin’s Track Run sports mode delivers precise distance and pace numbers when jogging on a track.
There’s also Virtual Run mode, which allows you to use your watch to control an avatar in an app like Zwift while jogging on a treadmill – although this is dependant on the watch’s accurate pace detection, which can differ substantially from the treadmill’s metrics.
Holistic approach to fitness
Tune in to your body with advanced wellness features, such as intensity minutes, fitness age, all-day respiration and more.
There’s also a HIIT sports mode and a cadence gauge that you can customize to help you keep a precise rhythm while jogging. Two new racing capabilities have also been added to the watch, which was previously only available on more expensive Garmins.
PacePro is a program that allows you to pace your activity on a split-second basis. It requires navigation on the watch in most cases, but the Forerunner 55 will have a “light” version of the feature that will let you design your pace plan via Garmin Connect and follow it on the watch.
The new expected finish time tool has made racing a lot easier. It’s as easy as picking how far you’d want to run and pressing the start button on the watch. A new data panel will emerge after that, displaying average pace, remaining distance, and expected completion time, which will update as you speed up or slow down.
How does the 55 stack up against the 45?
The Forerunner 55 looks the same as the previous model, which isn’t a terrible thing. The Forerunner 45’s sleek, round face was a major design update in the Forerunner line, so Garmin wouldn’t want to make too many changes, understandably.
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However, unlike the Forerunner 45, which came in two casing sizes of 39mm and 42mm, the Forerunner 55 is only available in one size (42mm).
That’s all there is to it: a 1.04-inch 208 x 208-pixel screen with five buttons for menu navigation. The display is narrower than most other Garmin running watches, along with the Coros Pace 2.
All of the added functions make the Forerunner 55 a decent running watch for around $200. Still, considering that many of them are software upgrades, Garmin should’ve included these on the Forerunner 45 too. The 45 should also have Track Run mode available, seeing as it’s a dedicated running watch.
The Forerunner 55 preserves all of the same features as the 45. Things like VO2 max predictions, Garmin’s everyday activity and sleep-tracking, stress monitoring, planned workouts, and Body Battery (which gives you a score out of 100 for your energy levels at any given time).
On more expensive Garmins, navigation, advanced training insights, a multisport mode, and smart features like NFC payments are all available, but not here. Instead, the Connect IQ store offers various watch faces and some handy third-party apps for the Forerunner 55.
There’s no arguing that Garmin’s improvements to the Forerunner 55 are important (though some of them could have just as well gone with the Forerunner 45) or that it’s a fantastic running watch that’s great for beginners but will also serve more seasoned runners well.
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Which is better, the Forerunner 55 or the new Coros Pace 2?
A major question here is how it stacks up against the similarly-priced Coros Pace 2. The Pace 2 has a 30-hour battery life, GPS, running power measured from the wrist, a barometer, altimeter, and triathlon tracking. In addition to advanced training analysis using Coros’ new EvoLab capabilities. The Pace 2 features a 1.2-inch screen but is still compact and light on the wrist.
The Pace 2 has several advantages; however, the Forerunner 55 also has some. The Coros lacks recommended workouts, and Garmin’s five-button interface is more user-friendly than the spinning wheel on the Coros. Unlike current watches like the Fitbit Versa 3 or the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3, the Forerunner has a touchscreen display and instead depends on these buttons to execute various watch tasks. For your money, Garmin’s user experience on the device and app is better.
Is the Garmin Forerunner 55 worth it?
Even though there are plenty of alternatives at a similar RRP, Forerunner prices tend to decline after a few months. While the likes of Coros and Fitbit appear to stick to theirs. The Pace 2 just outperforms the Forerunner 55 at $200. At the same time, there’s a case to be made for choosing the Forerunner 45 over the 55 because it’s regularly available for around $150. While the battery life and a few key functionalities are reduced compared to the newer watch, the 45 is still a good value for money option that will meet the fundamental needs of most runners.
If you’re still unsure which Garmin is right for you, then look at our Garmin comparison article.
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Last Updated on June 14, 2021