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A coach on your wrist.
We'd be a few years late in saying that the days of stopwatches gracing the wrists of every runner we see are behind us, but with Garmin's latest additions to its data-loving family, we'd go so far as to say that the days of watches that only tell us pace, distance, and calories are numbered too. The new Garmin Forerunner 630 offers a substantial mix of features and training metrics that give serious athletes and aspiring amateurs alike the opportunity to be coached directly from their wrists. If you're a minimalist, this watch is probably not for you; but for runners interested in taking a strategic, data-driven approach to training, the Forerunner 630 makes a formidable training companion.
As you'd expect, the Forerunner 630 calculates all of the basics: pace, distance, calories burned, and time. When you pair the watch with an ANT+ heart rate strap, you gain access to a significantly more detailed group of measurements, including ground contact time balance, stride length, performance condition, VO2 max estimate, and lactate threshold. Stride length and ground contact time balance both address form inefficiencies, while performance condition relies on heart-rate data from training to estimate how you'll do in a race. So, when you show up to a race and find the temperature is 20 degrees warmer than what you trained for, you'll be able to watch in real time how much harder your body has to work to maintain pace — no more writing mile splits on each palm then having to mentally recalculate when the race doesn't go to plan.
As you train, Garmin's stress score provides a way to measure workouts against one another and aims to address common overtraining tendencies in amateur athletes. If you're going too hard, the watch's built-in recovery advisor can tell you when to let your body stop and rest, especially after a hard race or workout. Garmin Connect, Garmin's online training and data-storing platform, aims to make analyzing and organizing data easier with a host of color-coordinated training charts and graphs, and the Forerunner 630 will upload your workouts automatically to the site when it's connected to Wi-Fi. If set up with a compatible smartphone, the Forerunner 630 can give you smartphone notifications, eliminating the need to interrupt your interval workout to check your phone.
When you're not using the watch to run, it can still function as an all-day activity tracker, telling you how many steps you've taken, how much you've moved, and how well you're sleeping at night. And for triathletes, the Forerunner 630 can be synced with a cycling cadence and speed sensor and mounted to your handlebars to track your ride as well as your runs.