REVIEW: Garmin Forerunner® 965 GPS Smartwatch
Written By: SportsShoes
Train brilliantly with the Garmin Forerunner® 965, the premium GPS running and triathlon smartwatch with a bright AMOLED touchscreen display and lightweight titanium bezel.
The training readiness feature tells you when you're primed for a productive session - while multi-band GPS and full-colour, built-in maps keep you on track when you're en-route.
The Garmin Forerunner® 965 may be my favourite out of the Garmin range so far. Garmin does a fantastic job of constantly improving their insights, functionality and overall user experience and most importantly makes it easy for the average user to understand and apply.
Throughout this article, I will share insight to the functionality I have been using and what I am most excited about coming up.
Here are some key highlights:
- Display: The highest resolution from any sports watch and gives you extreme clarity in any type of light setting. My favourite and most polarizing within the Garmin range.
- Weight: I believe the watch comes in at 52g and is one of the lightest watches I have worn for training.
- Battery Life: The battery life is quite long-lasting (23-25 days) and only took 2 or so hours to charge to full capacity, so you go minimal time without constant data tracking.
- GPS Accuracy: I compared the GPS accuracy to a few watches and the Forerunner® 965 was very accurate in calculating my distances from city running to rural training in Kenya. It is very good for mapping our routes and analysing marathon races.
- Heart Rate Monitoring: I tested this with the nurse and the HR monitor seemed to be within 2-3 beats in comparison. Equipped with accurate heart rate monitoring technology it allows runners to optimise their training based on real-time data.
- Water Resistance: Given the watch is built for cycling, running and swimming, it is water resistant and extremely durable.
- Recommended for: Data driven athletes looking for an extra edge and new insights to improving their training and performance.
Garmin has an endless supply of functionality in the watch and in the Garmin Connect App. While the importance of the functionality may differ based on personal goals, preference and current fitness level, some of the functionality I used and how I applied it to my training is mentioned below.
- Heart Rate & Pacing: Like all watches HR and pacing is critical when training in new climates and when understanding your zones in general. Being in a new location (a lot of my training was done throughout India, Nepal and Kenya), I monitored this religiously to make sure I was in my training zones in correlation with my training environment.
- Heart Rate Variability: Between travelling and altitude training this was a good indicator of my recovery and how my body was taking on the training load. This was something my coach and I monitored as we increased mileage rapidly given the short training window we had to make sure we were getting the most out of each week and not pushing the body into fatigue.
- Suggested Workouts: Garmin does a great job of digesting all of your data and providing suggested workouts in line with your fitness or marathon goals, outlining specific workouts and paces. Even having a coach this was a great pulse check to have if we needed to shift any workouts throughout the week given where my HRV or Training Readiness were.
- Training Readiness: Training readiness takes into account multiple data points such as your HRV & sleep data which Garmin automatically populates to give you a daily score in your morning report. The correlation between HRV and how I actually felt was nearly spot on and at minimum gave my coaches visibility to why a workout may not have gone to plan, or the impact of a previous workout and what factors may have contributed to a particular score so they can be more prescriptive in their workouts.
- Recovery Advisor: After every run, Garmin gives you an estimated recovery time. I really liked this feature because it also allows you to test different recovery hacks to improve your recovery time such as ice baths, sauna or naps. Naps is another feature Garmin is incorporating in the next software update that will automatically calculate your resting time during a midday nap and give you suggested tips to optimise this for your recovery. This feature should mainly be used as a guide and be compared with your training readiness data.
- Altitude acclimation: In the watch you have visibility to how adjusted your body is to the new found altitude. Being at 2400m, this was extremely helpful and nearly spot on to how my body felt. This helped me manage my training load and give me a better outlook on some of my training readiness & HRV trends so I could be prescriptive in increasing my mileage and pacing.
- Race Predictor: For me, the race predictor was almost essential for me thinking through my pacing. Garmin digests all of your training data to give you a predicted time and pace for all distances and empowers you to go in with a plan. Training at altitude, pacing is slower so it was good to have visibility to this.
With so much data to consume from Garmin it is actually hard to think about other functionality that I am excited about in the future. However, Garmin seems to continuously push the needle in regards to data and most importantly creating an ecosystem around the data that makes it easy for the average or advanced athlete to apply to their training or use as their sole training tool and resource.
A couple of additional functionality I am excited to test in future training blocks are:
- Garmin Clipboard: Garmin allows your coaches to have seamless visibility to all of your data in one place to have a holistic view of your training and make even more informed decisions on your suggested workouts. As I bring on board more coaches and a data scientist, everyone having clear visibility will be critical in optimizing my training loads and overall performance.
- Training Plans: Garmin gives you access to pre-loaded training plans on the watch or through the Garmin Connect app, guiding you through the necessary preparations for race day. Although I have a coach, I want to create a check and balance system that allows for flexible changes in the planning and also gives me another perspective that is fuelled by my data.
- Pace Pro: Given the route of my next race, managing my pacing will be critical for hitting my goal target. Pace Pro gives you dynamic, grade-adjusted pace guidance throughout the race based on elevation and my personal preferences.
The Garmin Forerunner® 965 to me is the top of the line watch in the Garmin range for anyone competing in any or all of the three disciplines: running, cycling and swimming.
It provides a very easy to use experience, advanced data & insights and allows you to create a customizable approach to your data, training plans and most importantly allows you to be data driven in your decision making.
Some key highlights and takeaways are below:
- Garmin is a top-tier choice for the data driven athlete looking to optimize their performance and overall training.
- Great for athletes who have a coach or are looking for suggested workouts as Garmin will share with you suggested workouts based on your data inputs.
- The battery life for a sports watch mixed with the colour and touch-screen display is great for athletes looking to optimize for style and functionality.
- The data insights on the data are extremely helpful and great to see trends overtime in regards to HRV, sleep data, training readiness, etc.
- The watch is extremely lightweight and water resistant and is able to withstand any of your training needs.