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Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor Review

The Garmin Forerunner 305 heart rate monitor has everything you need to improve your fitness level. You’ll find all kinds of tracking data, goals setting tools, and accurate measures of your heart rate and location.

My sister was competing in a duathlon a few weeks ago. It was a run/bike combo with a 10K run followed by a 50K bike ride. Now I’m just a runner myself. I just haven’t yet put out the extra cash and made the serious investment in a nice bike and all the other accessories you need to get into biking. But I do know that after running a 10K I’m pretty much ready to lay down for a while and have an ice-cold drink. The last thing I would want to do is hop on a bike for another hour or so and go another 50K.

Now my sister is really in fantastic shape. She trains hard and consistently. Surprisingly too she’s really seen her times drop over the last couple years despite the demands of motherhood (my nephew is a real handful) and a full-time career in counseling. I asked her what she was doing because goodness knows I need some of that.

She told me it was about training smarter, not harder, and held out her wrist. I looked down at the high tech gadget she had strapped on. At first glance, it looked like a sports watch on steroids, but sleek and cool. After she started showing me what it could do, I said to myself, “Self, you need to take a serious look at this Garmin Forerunner 305.” And so I did. Here’s what I found out.

Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor

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The GPS Navigation Is The Best In The World

Garmin is really the king when it comes to GPS features. There is an interface on the screen where you can look at all of the satellites in orbit that are in range of your Forerunner. The screen will show you where they are located, give each one a tracking number, and tell you which ones are the strongest and most accurate.

When you start setting up road courses on the Forerunner 305 you’ll be able to use the GPS feature to view the course you’re running or biking on a map. You can then save different locations that you want to remember later, and create new routes where you’d like to work out. Workouts can be mapped using Google Earth. If you ever get lost, the 305 will even help you find your way home. Locations on the screen are shown on a map and positions are listed by longitude and latitude as well as elevation. There is also a compass built in to the 305.

Heart Rate Zone Training Means Smart Training

If you didn’t already know, you can measure and greatly improve your fitness by knowing your heart rate zones and which ones to train in and for how long. Your heart rate is an excellent measure of how intense you are exercising. By training in certain zones, you can enhance your strength and improve your cardiovascular capacity. Knowing your individual personalized heart rate zones can help prevent you from over or under training and decrease your risk of injury.

You can set up five heart rate zones on the Forerunner 305. The heart rate zones are based on a percentage of maximum heart rate (1-lowest, 5-highest). You will need to enter your maximum heart rate and the Garmin 305 will calculate the percentages.

Zone% of Max Heart RatePerceived ExertionBenefits
150-60%An easy pace, very relaxed slow breathing.Reduce stress, beginner level aerobic training.
260-70%Deeper breathing but you can still hold a conversation, comfortable pace.Good pace for recovery and warm-up. Builds basic cardio ability.
370-80%Moderate pace, harder to have a conversation.Optimal cardiovascular training level, really improves aerobic capacity.
480-90%Fast uncomfortable pace, breathing is hard.Boosts your speed and anaerobic capacity.
590-100%A sprinting pace, really hard breathing, you can’t keep this up for long.Increases power and strength and improves anaerobic and muscular endurance.

Choose A Workout Type That Meets Your Goals

The Garmin Forerunner 305 has three basic workout options to choose from.

  • Quick Workout – You enter your time, distance, or pace goals, which is basically how far and how fast you want to go. Then just start working out.
  • Interval Training – Enter the time or distance you want to go, and how many repetitions you want to complete and the 305 will record all of your data. Using this type of training you can run a certain distance and then rest for a certain amount of time. You can even add extra laps for a warm-up and cool down. As you get close to the end of each lap an alarm will sound and a message will appear on the monitor counting down the time until a new lap starts.
  • Advanced Workouts – You can plan workouts in advance and save, edit, and transfer them from your computer to the 305 using the Garmin Training Center software. This type of workout lets you add complexity to your training. You can vary your distance, time, and rest laps. Advanced workouts can also be set up as sports-specific workouts. This means so you can do a biking workout in biking mode and the Forerunner will record all of the data that is relevant to that type of workout.
Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor

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Create Your Own Awesome Courses

You can plan and set up all sorts of really cool running or cycling courses with the Garmin Training Center on your computer and then transfer them to the Forerunner 305. You are able to give your courses creative names. You can set up a whole new course to run and challenge yourself, or you can use a course that you’ve run before and try to beat a previous time. The Virtual Partner (the little digital man icon that appears on the display) will help you keep track of your previous pace time while you’re out on the course.

If you are hooked into the Garmin Connect website, you can even download other people’s courses and try them out for yourself. You can try and beat others on the same course in a virtual competition.

You can also add course points using the Garmin Training Center. Course points are specific things on the trail that you’d like to remember, like water stops, traffic lights, or a playground so that you can add some calisthenics to your workout.

When you’re running a course, the Forerunner 305 screen will show you the distance and time to the end of the course and your next course point. You can also see a course map showing you where you were on a previous performance and where you are currently during your workout. You’ll see both yourself and your previous performance position as little grey and black triangles on the road on the course map.

If you ever stray off course you just need to follow the direction arrow on the screen of the 305 and it will navigate you back.

You can even include a warm-up before you start your course. When you get to the course the Garmin 305 will automatically register your location via GPS and start recording all your training data.

Program Multi-Sport Workouts For A Complete Fitness Program

The Garmin Forerunner 305 lets you setup and store all of your multi-sport workouts in its memory. You can add your typical sports like running and cycling as well as unusual sports like cross-country skiing and windsurfing.

You can check your total time and distance for each sport during a workout. This feature is great for triathletes, duathletes, and other multi-sport competitors. While you’re training you can look up data on your average heart rate, and calories burned for each sport. If you’re going to be in a race or event, you can set up the Forerunner to automatically transition from one sport to the next. You can even include transition time as you go from biking to running for example.

The Forerunner stores up to 2 years (1,000 laps) of data in its memory. Some of the data that is recorded in the history data includes heart rate, time, distance, average pace, calories burned, best pace, and detailed lap information. You can view your history data by the total, or by day or week. Data can be shown and sorted by sport.

For each sport’s setting you can change the speed units and you can enter your bike’s weight or any extra gear you may be carrying. This will affect how calories are calculated. If you carrying a heavy pack while you run on a trail, for example, then you are definitely going to burn more calories.

Set Up A Range of Different Alerts to Stay Focused

You can use Forerunner Alerts to target certain goals associated with time, heart rate, distance, and speed. When you’re out doing a long run and have the time or distance alert set up, the Forerunner 305 will beep and display a message when you hit, for example, 5 miles if you’re targeting distance or say 35 minutes if you are targeting time.

You can set the Forerunner to alert you if you exceed or drop below a certain pace. So if you start slowing down, you get a friendly beep to pick it back up again. This is a great motivator and an excellent way to maintain a consistent pace throughout your workout. You can set up to 10 pace/speed zones. These range from walking to sprinting.

You can also have the 305 alert you when your heart rate drops or exceeds a certain number of beats or a specific heart rate zone. There are 5 heart rate zones based on the intensity level of the workout.

Garmin Training Center – Software to Help You Reach the Next Level

The Forerunner 305 comes with software for you to load onto your computer. The software offers tools for you to analyze your workouts. You can see charts, graphs, illustrations, and reports of different aspects of your training. You can also create and schedule custom workouts and courses, first mapping them out on your computer and then downloading them to your Forerunner 305.

The Garmin Training Center has the ability to overlay your workout data onto maps of the route you just ran or biked. You will be able to see how your heart rate handled a tough hill for example. You can also track your historical performance on a particular course and see if you improve over time.

Garmin Connect – Join Garmin’s Virtual Community

There are a ton of really cool features on Garmin’s website. You should definitely check it out. You can load up your training data to the site and analyze it using charts and graphs. You can overlay maps onto your routes and see where you’ve been and how fast you traveled. You can set goals for yourself like the number of miles run in a week or month.

One really cool feature of the website is the sharing function. You can easily share your workouts and sports with your friends and family using a sharing widget that syncs up with all of the big webmail providers where you have your contact list, like Hotmail and Gmail. You can also share with Facebook friends.

With your workouts and courses loaded up to the site you can virtually race another member of the site and invite family and friends to participate. This is really fun and really motivational, especially for us competitive types.

The 305 is also compatible with TrainingPeaks.com, which is a really awesome training website.

Some Other Unique Features

Autolap – This feature lets you automatically start recording the information for a new lap after you have travelled a certain distance or passed a set point in your bike or run. You can use this information to compare different sections of a course. You can see how you did over a steep hill or over each mile for example.

Autopause – You can set the Forerunner 305 to automatically pause the timer when you stop moving during your run or when your pace drops down below a certain level. If you have to stop your run and cross some busy streets this feature is very useful.

Virtual Partner – This electronic training tool competes against you while you workout. On the monitor of the Garmin Forerunner 305 you see the virtual partner at the top of the screen and you will be at the bottom (picture). If you are behind the Virtual Partner the bottom field is black and your distance behind will be shown. If you are beating the partner, then the field is white.

Optional Accessories That Can Really Enhance Your Experience

Garmin GSC 10 Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor – The GSC 10 is used for tracking your performance while biking. When you sync it up with the wrist monitor you can access all of the biking related features. One type of alert you can set up will beep you when your cadence drops or exceeds a specific number of revolutions of the crank arm per minute. The crank arm is the part of your bike where the pedals attach.

Garmin Foot Pod – The foot pod attaches to your shoe and lets you measure pace, speed, and distance. You use this when you’re working out indoors on the treadmill and you can’t get a GPS signal reception on the 305 wrist unit.


  • Easily readable display – High resolution and clarity on the 1.3 inch display ensure that all readings are very crisp. Also the wrist display is larger than most standard wristwatch heart rate monitors, which really helps with readability. The 305 has 3 main data screens with a total of 12 data fields that you can view.
  • Large, easy to use buttons – All of the buttons are positioned for easy accessibility around the face of the 305. The buttons also respond very well to the touch.
  • Excellent GPS tracking – The Forerunner 305 is integrated with a SiRFstar III GPS receiver which is highly accurate, down to about 10 meters (32 feet). It also receives the satellite signals very well, often even through dense trees and tall buildings.
  • Garmin Training Center – This is very easy to set up and is PC and Mac compatible. You can track your performance and look at all your data in a graph. You’ll see things like how your heart rate was at different speeds and distances. This can very helpful in identifying strengths and weakness in you fitness level. For example, if you start to really feel tired at a certain distance, and your heart rate spikes on the graph, then your body is telling you that you probably need to increase the frequency of your endurance workouts and build up this weakness in your game.
  • Great value – For all the features you get with the Garmin Forerunner 305 heart rate monitor it is a really good deal and priced much lower than many monitors on the market.
  • Reliable and accurate – Triathlete Mathew Honan tested the Garmin Forerunner 305 and found that it never lost its signal, which was something he rarely sees in GPS watches. Also, several University of Arizona researchers tested four GPS watches on an outdoor track with athletes going at different speeds. They compared the data from the monitors with an accelerometer and a podometer. They found that the Garmin 305 was the most accurate of the four.
  • Long battery life – Everyone likes the long charge that you get with the 305′s battery. Garmin says you get about 10 hours out of a full charge, which should be long enough for several workouts, unless you’re an ultra marathoner.


  • Big and kinda bulky – The 305 is not something you’d wear to a business meeting for example. Most users though felt that the big easily readable display offset the bulky size of the 305 wrist monitor. The Garmin Forerunner 405CX model is designed slightly smaller and looks more like a sports watch than the 305.
  • Can’t swim with it – This means you’ll have to take it off for the swimming leg of the race if you’re a triathlete. If you want to record your heart rate and other training data while you’re swimming, I recommend the Sunnto t6c. It has a special device that can record data underwater.
  • It can take a couple minutes to pick up a GPS signal – This really depends on where you are. In some large cities it can take a couple minutes, whereas in more rural areas, a couple seconds. You can just stretch and warm up while you’re waiting, so it’s really not a big deal.

What’s Included

  • Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS wrist unit
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Wrist strap
  • Extension strap – If the standard Forerunner 305 strap is not long enough for you, you can add this extension on.
  • Docking cradle – This is for connecting the 305 to your computer and recharging it. The cradle has a single mini USB port and connects to the AC adapter or to the USB cable.
  • Garmin Training Center disk
  • USB cable – You can also use the USB cable as a charger when you hook it up to your computer.
  • AC charger
  • Quick start guide
  • Users manual
Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor
Garmin Forerunner 305 Heart Rate Monitor

Check Price on Amazon

More About Garmin

Garmin has been making GPS devices since 1989. You can find Garmin products for almost anything that moves, from boats, to planes and helicopters, to cars. With their Forerunner models there are now even personal GPS devices that you can wear on your wrist. Garmin’s worldwide headquarters are located in Olathe, Kansas, USA.

Other Helpful Resources

Runner’s World reviewed the Garmin Forerunner 305 recently and they really liked the easy to use interface and the customizable screens. They liked all the measures like pace and distance that could easily be tracked. They also felt that the GPS functionality of the 305 was excellent. They really liked the automatic waypoints setting that you can add to your running routes.

Runner’s World UK also took a look at the Forerunner 305 and really liked the navigation buttons. They also mentioned that a problem with the calories counter had been fixed with a downloadable software update.

Have you used a Garmin Forerunner 305 before? How was it? Tell everyone about it in the comment area below. You can also give it a rating.

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