Garmin Forerunner 45: Is it worth it?

There comes a moment in the life of an amateur runner when they begin to think about buying a sports watch that would replace the phone that they carry in their pocket during training. One of the reasons for such a decision may be the convenience of use and the search for more training functions, thanks to which the watch will replace the smartphone.

Many manufacturers come to our aid by offering simple models that do not require spending hundreds of dollars. There is also nothing to be afraid of because these watches can meet the expectations of many of us. Such a model is, for example, the recently reviewed Polar Ignite or Suunto 5.

Since Garmin is a company that offers the most models of training watches, as we can guess, it could not lack simple devices for every budget. The tasks that I set for such a model are the registration of activities such as running or cycling; the possibility of uploading training sessions will be an additional advantage.

Garmin Forerunner 45

All these tasks are fulfilled by Garmin 45, which combines ease of use and the availability of training functions from the most expensive Garmin models. So who is this model for, and what’s in it that you should consider when choosing your first watch? You can read about it in our review.

First impressions

Garmin Forerunner 45


People who have contact with newer models of Garmin devices will immediately notice that the watch follows the latest trend of the Forerunner series. Such a conclusion arises when comparing the shape, method of controlling the watch, or the type of strap used.

Garmin Forerunner 45

The device is quite small and inconspicuous, so I would rather recommend this model for people with smaller wrists. The watch is light as a feather and weighs 36 grams, making it virtually imperceptible on the hand. The strap is flexible and springy, which translates into a good and easy fit. Fortunately, this feature will also affect the quality of the heart rate reading from the optical sensor, which is usually found on the bottom of the device.

In addition to the changed shape, this has a new functionality – heart rate measurement in water. The only noticeable drawback may be the quality of the buttons, which work quite reluctantly.

Data cable and synchronization

For charging and data transmission, Garmin used a cable with a plug-in end – a port known from previous versions. One of the advantages of such a connection, in addition to a solid mounting, is the ability to access the device memory and make a backup of all files.

Garmin Forerunner 45

The disadvantages include the inability to put the watch on while charging it from the power bank. However, synchronization is generally done via Bluetooth, so the cable is occasionally used for this purpose.

Read also: Garmin Forerunner 235 review


The watch is very intuitive, and we use five buttons to operate it, which, as I mentioned, are a bit sluggish. The individual keys have the following functions:

Garmin Forerunner 45

  • LIGHT – is used to backlight, turn off the clock and backlight, and enter the quick menu.
  • UP – is used to move between the various menu fields and training screens.
  • DOWN – it is used to move between the various menu fields and training screens, as well as to start the music player
  • START / STOP – Start and stop an activity and record training by holding the button.
  • BACK / LAP – Used to go back to the previous screen and add laps.
Garmin Forerunner 45

As I mentioned, the menu is friendly and should not be a problem for anyone, regardless of experience or age. A great advantage is the ability to change settings from the level of the watch, including data fields and the quality of GPS recording. The configuration of the watch can also be done from the mobile application.

Working time

In the GPS mode, the manufacturer declares a working time of 13 hours, which is quite average. However, during our test, it reached 13 hours and 12 minutes, but there was no active backlight while testing it.

Currently, most manufacturers boast a working time of more than 20 hours, so 13 hours are not very impressive. Nevertheless, this time is enough to perform about 3 running workouts and use the watch daily as an activity tracker. However, we have to get used to charging the Garmin 45 at least once a week.


Another thing to consider when purchasing your first watch is the GPS track recording quality. Let’s start with the fact that Garmin Forerunner 45 does not belong to the segment of models for pro athletes but more for those who are just starting their training adventure.

Garmin Forerunner 45

The device uses the same GPS chipset that we will now find in most watches, i.e., Sony. Thus, I expect from this watch class pace tracking and distance mapping comparable to measurements made with reference models.

To sum up, the Garmin 45 off-road performs well as a mid-range watch. It did not impress me, but it did not disappoint either. In more forested terrain, there is a shift from the trace drawn by more expensive models such as the Garmin 935 or Coros APEX. However, it was very close to the top models GPS mapping. In short, it is not an outstanding GPS receiver, but the requirements set by most people should be met.

Optical heart rate measurement

Garmin used a new optical sensor in the Garmin 45 model, which can be found, among others, in the highest models, such as the Garmin 945 or Fenix 6. As I mentioned at the beginning, the sensor, in addition to measuring the heart rate during activity, allows you to measure your heart rate underwater. The heart rate measurement module consists of two green light sources and two sensors. The principle of measurement does not change and consists in measuring the reflected light; if someone wants to get acquainted with the theory, I encourage you to read this thread in the  Fenix 5 review.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Below are tests from various training sessions:

  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 review
  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 review
  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 review

  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 review
  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 review
  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 review
  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 review
  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 reviews
  • Garmin 45 – blue , heart rate belt –  red
garmin forerunner 45 reviews

Once again, I get proof that Garmin’s new optical heart rate sensor is better than the older generation sensor. The module quite faithfully reproduces the heart rate recorded by an accurate heart rate belt, and this does not only apply to indoor activities but also to those carried out outdoors. However, this is not an ideal sensor; the heart rate measured by the optical sensor reacts slower to changes. Therefore, the results are mainly influenced by temperature.

garmin forerunner 45 reviews

I think the new sensor can be trusted more than the older versions by giving it a shot at most training sessions. So now, while exercising on the bike, on the treadmill, and on most runs, I stopped using the heart rate belt.

Read also: Garmin Forerunner 245 Review


The backlight can be switched on in manual mode or activated by pressing any button. There is also a function that allows you to turn it on automatically, e.g., by turning your hand or after sunset.


Similar to the previous models of the American manufacturer, the Garmin 45 is equipped with sound notifications and vibration. I have no complaints in this regard, it is loud enough, and the notifications vibrate solidly.

Watch settings

You should take a few minutes to adjust the watch to your needs. During the first run, we will be asked to select the basic parameters and pair the watch with a smartphone, which I recommend doing at this point.

Garmin is the only company that allows a lot of freedom in changing settings, and we can configure training fields or sensors quickly and directly from the device. The feature that distinguishes the American manufacturer from other brands is the ability to make any changes during the training.

With settings for individual sports, the amount of monitored training data is small – just 12 parameters. Comparing this number to the competition models, it is not much. However, we have basically everything we need, i.e., pace, heart rate, distance, and a stopwatch. The only important shortcomings are the heart rate for the lap and the average heart rate during activity.

First use

To start training, press the START button, then select the type of activity on the screen, which is confirmed by repeated use of the START button. We have a limited number of activities in the device itself, but it is possible to add more from the training platform. Those who expected a large number of sports available may feel disappointed.

When you start your activity, your watch will connect to satellites and external sensors. The speed of GPS connection depends heavily on the terrain in which we are training, and I did not find a rule here because sometimes it takes 5 seconds to connect, sometimes a minute. Frequent synchronization of the Garmin Forerunner 45 with the phone allows you to speed up this process.

Training fields are switched with UP and DOWN buttons. The display’s colors are muted, and the readability, even in bright light, is good. Due to the limited size of the display, the lack of description of training parameters may be a challenge. The display shows only numerical values, which can be confusing if all training screens are set. While running, the model works very smoothly, regardless of the operation performed on the watch.

garmin forerunner 45 reviews

Garmin 45 compensates for the small number of parameters with extensive training options. As usual in Garmin, in addition to measuring the distance or pace, this model has been equipped with options for setting alarms and using training patterns built in the Garmin Connect platform. These functions should be of particular interest to people who want to systematize their activity and train based on a training plan.

Additional training functions

Even though the Forerunner 45 is one of the basic models, it can offer many additional training options, including:


This function is a delimiter that we can create for a given activity. The principle of operation is very simple and consists of periodic notification of exceeding the specified range.

You can set an alarm, including speed, pace, heart rate, and time; each is signaled by a pictogram and a sound notification and/or vibration.


This feature allows you to design a simple interval training session consisting of a warm-up, an interval, a rest, and a cool-down exercise. The simplest patterns consist of looping, for example, 6 repetitions of 30 seconds of effort and 30 seconds of rest.

Read also: Garmin Forerunner 35 review – tried and tested


Training is a training scheme composed of several elements that can be uploaded to the watch using the Garmin Connect application. You can create extensive patterns, determining the heart rate range, pace, or cadence you want during a run. Although it may sound complicated, creating workouts is simple.

To start training, find the activity you are interested in and press and hold the middle button. After starting the training, the watch will guide us step by step through the planned activity, signaling going beyond the specified range with an audible alarm and vibration.

garmin 45 forerunner

The screen will display individual training messages describing the training phase. The transition between the stages is automatic, but individual tasks can be bypassed by selecting the LAP button.

Garmin Coach

This is a relatively new feature and is nothing more than a running training plan tailored to our needs. Configuration takes place on the Garmin Connect training platform.

The training sessions are based on the pace, and the training schedule will change depending on how we did the preceding training. Therefore, I will devote a separate post to this function.

End of training

We save the training by selecting the START / STOP button and confirming it with the Save command. Then, a shortened activity summary appears on the screen with a graph of your current VO2 max. As the watch displays few parameters, I recommend the Garmin Connect platform for detailed analysis. In the watch, we will check average values ​​such as heart rate, pace, duration of the activity, and the distance achieved.

Mechanical treadmill

You do not need to buy additional sensors to run on a treadmill with Garmin 45. The device has a built-in accelerometer that measures the distance without using GPS. So, how does the watch know what distance has been traveled? It simply learns the speed at which we are moving while running using the GPS signal.

However, people looking for accurate measurements will not find what they are looking for in Forerunner 45 because, based on my experience, I can say that this measurement is error-prone and should be treated only as a guide.

Cycling (Outdoor and Indoor)

This activity basically does not differ much from the running application. The changes mainly concern the types of sensors that can be connected and speed units.

Additional functions

In addition to being a sports watch, Garmin 45 has several useful daily functions.

24/7 heart rate measurement

All Garmin devices with a built-in optical sensor measure your heart rate as long as you wear them. This may be helpful for people who strictly control the state of recovery and energy expenditure due to the accurate measurement of calories burned during the day.

garmin 45 forerunner

In addition, the watch “catches” the lowest heart rate of the day, records resting heart rate, and notifies us about an abnormally high heart rate. Of course, all data can be accessed from the watch and the Garmin Connect application (history).

Body battery

This is one of the novelties presented in the 945 model and introduced to the Fenix ​​6 series. Body Battery is to inform us if we are ready for another intensive training.

garmin - forerunner 45

The function is described by two numerical values: charge and exhaustion. The principle is simple: we perform another training when the state of charge is higher than exhaustion. This is similar to Training Load Pro, available in the Vantage series.

Emergency call function

Another of Garmin’s innovative solutions shows how much passion American brands put into developing new functionalities. In a nutshell, the application allows you to quickly send a message with your current location, asking for help.

For the function to work properly, you must have your phone because people marked as emergency contacts will receive an SMS or email.

Tracking your daily activity

Garmin 45, in the case of daily activity, is a poor version of the training band. The watch only measures steps, active minutes, and burned calories.

garmin - forerunner 45

It is more than Suunto’s, but it differs greatly from the Polar. Does counting only steps motivate me to be more active? Not really, and in the case of Garmin, I would count on something more extensive.

Sleep analysis

In addition to monitoring activity during the day, the watch has a sleep analysis function. The function allows you to display a graph of your sleep activity, divided into three sections describing the areas of mobility.

Phone notifications

When the Garmin 945 is connected to a smartphone, we get the ability to receive notifications from the phone, as well as read emails, SMS, and messages from social networks.

Garmin Connect and Connect Mobile

Garmin provides the Garmin Connect platform, the equivalent of Movescount and Polar Flow, for a detailed analysis of training sessions.  This platform is intended for viewing and planning workouts and other training activities. It must be admitted that it is the most dynamically developing platform, offering users more and more options.


I think it is worth considering Garmin Forerunner 45 because, for its price, we get quite a lot. As the tests showed, the watch turns out to be a pretty decent GPS logger with precise heart rate measurement from the wrist. If a fitness band or phone is no longer enough for you to achieve better results, the Garmin Forerunner 45 can offer reasonable solutions by tracking many more training metrics. In addition, we gain convenience and a lot of support through training modules. The purchase of the watch does not end with the device itself because, with it, we get access to an extensive training platform.

Nevertheless, the Garmin 45 has a relatively poor library of sports/activities compared to the competition and a limited number of parameters describing a given activity. In addition, since the watch has a sensor that measures the heart rate underwater, you could be tempted to use it for swimming in the pool. On the plus side, it is possible to attach a cadence sensor for cycling, which is an important parameter when we want to deal with these sports more seriously.

Other Forerunners

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