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The Garmin Forerunner 45 is one of the best running watches in its price range and could be just the ticket if you're looking for an entry-level GPS fitness tracker.

The Garmin Forerunner 45 remains popular even in the face of its update, the Forerunner 55, which offers simple and easy running tracking in a sleek watch. But now it comes with some of the fitness and wellness features we're used to seeing on watches much higher up the Forerunner food chain.

Along with built-in GPS, you get an optical heart rate monitor, adaptive training plans, VO2 max, activity and sleep tracking, battery power level monitoring, stress tracking, music controls, smart notifications and some very interesting security features such as live monitoring and incident detection.

There's a lot here for the price, so even serious runners could save some money by choosing this cheaper option. We put the Forerunner 45 through its paces to find out.

If you want something more like a smartwatch, the new Garmin Venu Sq is worth considering. It has a slim, sleek design, a good range of fitness tracking profiles with built-in GPS, and a pulse sensor. It's a bit more expensive, though, so if you don't need any frills, the Forerunner 45 is probably the best option.

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  • Garmin Forerunner 45 (black) at Walmart for €118 (opens in a new tab)

Garmin Forerunner 45 price and availability

  • Available now in the UK, US and Australia
  • Costs €169.99 / €199.99 / AU€299 new

Priced at $169,99 / £199,99 / AU$299,00 at launch, the Forerunner 45 was one of the cheapest Garmin watches, sitting in the middle of the budget running watch bracket alongside the Polar M430 and the Coros Pace.

However, now that the Forerunner 55 is available, you can often get a 45 for under $100 / £120 / AU$200.

Garmin Forerunner 45 design and display

  • Very basic but not unpleasant design.
  • Lighter and more plastic than high-end watches
  • Easy navigation and controls

There are actually two versions of the Forerunner 45: the standard 45, which has a 42mm case, and the 45S with a slightly smaller 39mm case, suitable for people with smaller wrists. Even the 42mm case is much smaller than most other running watches.

Both fitness trackers feature a 1,04-inch, 208 x 208 color display. Obviously you won't get Apple Watch resolution at this price, but the screen is clear and bright, and the colors, while limited, make make your stats easier to read and a bit more cheery.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Image credit: LaComparacion (Image credit: Future)

Garmin's recognizable five-button control setup is here too with buttons for start/stop, back, up and down, and a backlight. Anyone who's used a Garmin in recent years will find it familiar, and it's one of the most intuitive navigation and menu structures you'll find on any running watch.

The Forerunner 45 is incredibly light at 32-36g depending on the size you choose. This is mainly due to the plastic frame and buttons, as well as the soft silicone strap which some may find a bit cheap.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Image credit: LaComparacion (Image credit: Future)

But the upside here is that it's a decent comfortable watch to wear 24/7. If we had a problem, it was the strap slider slipping, allowing the end of the strap to move occasionally.

The Forerunner 45 is waterproof to 50 meters, so you can swim with it, though there are no swim features here.

In the box you also get Garmin's standard four-pin USB charging cable. It's a small thing, but it means you can now use most charging cables from other Garmin watches for this juice. It's very convenient indeed.

Garmin Forerunner Features, App, and Usability

  • Helpful Personalized Training Plans for Beginners
  • Adaptive training plans, VO2 max.
  • Onboard sleep, stress and body battery tracking

You get a lot of features for under $200 / £200. If you're just running for fitness and want to cover the basics, the 45 now gives you more than enough. It will certainly take you from the couch to the 5K and probably even the marathon.

If you're really into the science of training and running, you'll probably want to go higher for more metrics and insights, but as a cheap way to track runs and monitor fitness, this is a pretty solid offering.

The focus here is running - this is primarily a running watch - but there are 12 activity profiles including running, treadmill, indoor track, cycling, cardio and walking.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Image credit: LaComparacion (Image credit: Future)

These can be customized via the Garmin Connect app, but it was a bit frustrating that you can only have six on the watch at a time. You have to choose which one in the app.

The watch has memory to store 200 hours of training data, though it automatically syncs via your smartphone to Garmin Connect, so it's unlikely you'll ever test that limit.

Garmin Coach is a standout feature, especially when you consider that this watch is primarily aimed at beginning runners. It offers adaptive training plans created by expert trainers for 5K, 10K and half marathon.

You can choose your goal, whether it's hitting a time or just finishing it, and you can enter details like your preferred race days and current mileage/pace.

Training plans are wonderfully easy to set up on Garmin Connect. It takes a few minutes, and we loved that the workouts you do are based on your recent performance. So the first session is a baseline test which then dictates the whole plan.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Image credit: LaComparacion (Image credit: Future)

In our tests, we found the plans to be generally sensible, easy to follow with sessions sent to your watch, and really changed based on what we managed to get done during the week. For example, if we had to run a shorter race than planned or if we didn't hit our targets, our future workouts would be modified accordingly.

You're unlikely to want to use it if you're at the level of attempting a sub-1:15 half, but if you're training for your first few distances and races, it's a very useful feature.

If you're running just to improve your fitness, Forerunner 45 will now offer a VO2 max estimate that you can use to track your progress.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Image credit: LaComparacion (Image credit: Future)

When it comes to running form metrics, in addition to the usual pace, distance, and speed, you also get cadence, probably the most important running mechanics metric for beginning and intermediate runners looking to improve.

As with most running watches these days, you get 24/7 activity tracking and step counts. There are optional motion alerts that ask you to get up and move if you've been sedentary for long periods of time, while the Move IQ feature can detect if you're running, cycling or swimming and will flag this activity in your reports. to show how you timed your active time.

You can also set goals for the number of intensity minutes and your daily step goals.

Garmin Forerunner 45

Image credit: LaComparacion (Image credit: Future)

Another couple of new features from Garmin, Body Battery and stress tracking, are also built into the Forerunner 45. Body Battery uses a combination of stats like heart rate, sleep, and activity to show you, like a score out of 100, how much energy you need. . have at any time of the day. Low body battery? Sit quietly for 15 minutes and you will regain some energy.

Likewise, the stress tracker takes heart rate readings into account and displays your stress level at all times. When we were in time for this piece, ours increased and we also found that it registered higher levels when we were doing things like a big work presentation. As such, it is a useful tool for detecting stress triggers.

Garmin Forerunner 45: Price Comparison

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