Garmin’s new Forerunner watch estimates VO2 max, predicts race times

Garmin's new Forerunner 620 GPS watch promises a slate of new features including a VO2 max estimator, race predictor, and recovery advisor. Photo: Garmin Forerunner 620 and 220

NEW YORK, September 16, 2013 — Garmin today announced the debut of the new Forerunner 620 and 220 GPS watches meant to help runners train to their bodies’ potential.

The Forerunner 620 will estimate a runner’s VO2 maximum, predict race finish times, dish on running form, and offer advice about when to take recovery days based on heart rate data when paired with a heart-rate monitor.

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For indoor treadmill runs, the 620 and 220 have an accelerometer to track distance and pace, doing away with the need for a companion sensor.

Perhaps the most exciting new feature is the 620 watch’s ability to estimate VO2 max, a rate that measures just how much oxygen an athlete can take in during a workout. VO2 max is considered an accurate gauge of an individual’s fitness. A runner who can consume more oxygen can produce more energy to run faster.

Most runners, however, have no idea what their VO2 max is. The most reliable way to measure for it is an exercise lab test.

Now Garmin promises that the Forerunner 620 can estimate a runner’s VO2 max with data extracted from a heart rate monitor. The watch takes into account running speed, heart rate beats per minute, and heart rate variability to estimate a runner’s VO2 max. It also lets you know how your VO2 max compares with other people of the same gender and age group. Using that VO2 max estimate, the 620 watch predicts potential race times for a range of distances.

Paired with a heart-rate monitor, the Forerunner 620 also aims to help runners plan recovery days between workouts. The watch “learns” a wearer’s physiology via heart rate data. It looks a runner’s effort level and suggests time off before tackling the next hard effort. The watch uses color-coding to make things simple. Green means you’re ready to run, red plus a recovery time of more than 3 days means time to rest. Suggested recovery times vary from 6 to 96 hours.

Garmin’s new HRM-Run heart rate monitor also has an accelerometer that measures torso moment to gauge cadence, along with total steps, how much vertical bounce is in your stride, and the amount of time you spend on the ground during each step.

Both the Forerunner 620 and 220 also offer new run-walk alerts for runners who take walk breaks during their workouts or want a timer to monitor interval sessions. They’re also water resistant up to 50 meters.

Both watches also sync data wirelessly with computers or phones via Bluetooth, and the 620 can also sync through Wi-Fi. The 620 has a touch screen display and the 220 has traditional buttons.

The Forerunner 620 comes in two styles: blue/black and white/orange. The Forerunner 220 will be available in black/red and white/violet. The watches are due out sometime this fall with retail prices of $399.99 and $249.99, respectively. Runners can add the HRM-Run heart rate monitor for another $50.

Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. Her work has been seen in Newsweek,,, ABC-TV in New York and over two dozen other outlets. She has finished six marathons and four triathlons. Follow Karla at

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Karla Bruning

Karla Bruning is the host of On The Run, a TV and web show from New York Road Runners. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, American Athlete Magazine,,, The Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, Orlando Sentinel, and two dozen other outlets including ESPN2, Universal Sports and ABC in New York. She and her work have also received mentions from The New York Times, Runner's World, Fox Sports, Canadian Running, The Baltimore Sun, and PBS among others. She also covered the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver for The Washington Times.


A former Newsweek reporter, Karla has won a Fulbright scholarship for American journalists and reporting grants from the Scripps Howard, Carnegie and Knight Foundations. Karla holds degrees from Amherst College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.


When not pounding the pavement as a reporter, Karla is pounding the pavement as a runner. She has completed seven marathons, four triathlons, trains with the New York Harriers and is a member of New York Road Runners. She is a writer, editor, and on-camera reporter dedicated to covering the sport of running from a runner’s perspective. Find Karla on, Twitter@KBruning, Facebook and Google+.

Contact Karla Bruning


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