It has now been six months that I have been using the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT. So I have enough experience to write about this heart-rate and GPS watch. My previous watch was the Garmin Fenix 2. In contrary of the Garmin Fenix 2 which is round and whom display is black and white, the Forerunner 920 XT has a rectangle shaped and colored display.
Forerunner 920 XT: The Forerunner 920 XT a running and triathlon watch
The Forerunner 920 XT is available in 2 different colors: black/blue and white/red. While the Garmin Fenix 2 watch is an outdoor and trail running watch, the Forennner 920 XT is a running and triathlon watch. The menus are very clear and easy to use. By default there are seven different activities displayed: Run, Run Indoor, Bike, Bike Indoor, Pool Swim, Open Water and Triathlon. But you can add some more for example Strength, Ski / Board, Multiport or Other. To add a new activity, go to Settings, Activity Profiles and then choose Add New. When adding a new activity, you can choose the profile color (blue, light blue, green, light green, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple) as well a profile icon (hiking shoe, paddle, dumbbell, heart) and finally you can give a name to the new added activity (cardio, other or custom).
Custom settings and configuration
For each activity type, you choose which Data Screens you want to have. In total you have space for 4 screens of data, one screen for the map, one for the Virtual Partner, one for Running Dynamics and the last one for the Clock. You can decide for each of them if you want to enable or disable it. For each data screens, you can configure the layout (1-4 fields). In Run mode, my first screen is a 4-field layout with Timer, Pace, Distance and Heart Rate. My second screen has 3 fields: Lap Time, Lap Pace, Lap Distance. My third screen has again 4 fields: Heart Rate, HR Zone, Average HR, HR %Max. I didn’t find necessary to add a fourth screen. The configuration is something personal, but I like to have on the same screen the Timer, Pace, Distance and Heart Rate information. While running, most of the time I only have a look at this screen. But if I need more information about Heart Rate for example I can switch to the third screen with more detailed information.
The Forerunner 920 XT allows you to make your own configuration and to display only the information you need. This is really a great feature giving more flexibility and freedom to the users. At the end of each run or workout, the watch is calculating a recovery time and displayed it after the activity has been saved. Within the five first minutes of a new activity, the watch will display your recovery state (good or fair). Fair appears when you didn’t rest enough. I never saw bad as a state, so I guess that Garmin doesn’t want to give you a bad motivation and prefers to use fair when your recovery time is too short : )
Battery life and reliability
When in use with GPS open and HR band connected, the battery lasts for about 11 hours. This is really enough for running races until 50 km or a Half Ironman triathlon for example. If you are planning to run longer distances like 80 km races, then you should prefer the Garmin Fenix 3 which has an autonomy of 20 hours GPS mode and up to 50 hours in UltraTrac Mode. The battery time depends on chosen settings and set interval times. If you set your GPS at every second than your battery life will be shorter and you will definitely not reach those 20 to 50 hours. The regular training mode of the Forerunner 920 XT is up to 24 hours and in UltraTrac Mode is up to 40 hours (this is depending on your own personal settings). But as written above regarding my experience with my settings, the battery lasts about 11 hours.
The Forerunner 920 XT is a very reliable watch, saving properly the activities, finding very quickly the satellite and measuring the distances accurately. In terms of software, I haven’t encountered any software issues with the Forerunner 920 XT, while I had a few with the Garmin Fenix 2 I previously have used.
Another great feature of the Forerunner 920 XT, is the Running Dynamics feature. With its included HRM-Run band it is capable to measure; vertical oscillation, ground contact time and your cadence. You usually don’t need this information when you a beginner or an average runner. But when you are an advanced runner and you run about 40-50 km per week than this information gives you a whole new dimension to your training scheme and sport activities.
The Metronome feature
The Forerunner includes another very useful feature, the Metronome. It allow you to define a specific running cadence. The watch is automatically beeping or buzzing to a specific running. As you may know running at certain cadences is a good way to increase turnover and to improve the general efficiency of the run. After some research, I found that a running cadence of 180 rpm is considered as a good baseline (90 rpm per leg).
Daily life features: pedometer and “sleep” mode
In addition to that, the Forerunner 920 XT has a pedometer included. The steps are displayed directly under the time. When you open the packet, the goal of the very first day is 5000 steps. The goal increases every day. The highest value I saw was 12.500 steps. I think that there is no limit actually. But the goal is adapted automatically every day taking into account how many steps you walked the previous day. Let’s tell that your goal for Tuesday is 12.300 steps, but you could only make 11.500, the goal for Wednesday will then be 11.700 for example. Furthermore, when you haven’t moved for one hour, the watch is vibrating and “Move!” appears on the display! For me siting long hours and writing this feature is really useful to make me have a 2 or 3-minute walk.
Another daily life feature is the “Sleep” mode. When sleeping you can activate it and the watch will then save your night sleeping activity. You won’t see it in the watch itself but when synchronizing the watch with Garmin Connect you can see your sleeping activity in the Garmin Connect application. It is a useful feature to have an overview of your sleeping time.
Garmin is trying to integrate in its products every day more health and daily-life features. By using the application “My Fitness Pal” you can enter what you eat and then the two applications (My Fitness Pal and Garmin Connect) synchronize and allow you to have a daily overview of your calories intake: goal – food + exercise = remaining
Conclusion: So in three words the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT is very easy to use and to configure, wearable both in daily-life and while doing sport and a reliable HR and GPS watch.