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If you know an avid long-distance runner, there’s a high probability that they run with a Garmin GPS watch as part of their training.
While there are several sport watch brands to choose from, Garmin continues to be held up as the gold standard for many runners, myself included.
So, when the Garmin team offered me the chance to try the Forerunner 245 Music — an upgrade from my current Forerunner 235 — I jumped at the chance.
Unsurprisingly, the “music” part of the model name is what draws many people to the watch (we’ll get to that later), but for me, it was the 245 Music’s course guidance with turn-by-turn directions that was most intriguing.
This article provides a comprehensive hands-on review of the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music, including whether I think it’s worth the investment.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is Garmin’s least expensive watch that has the capability to play music.
In addition to basic must-have features for runners — like tracking distance, heart rate, and pace — it also offers:
- music playing
- Garmin Coach
- course guidance
- safety and tracking features
Retailing for $349.99, the watch is on the pricier side. But considering all the features it offers, many reviewers feel it’s worth the splurge.
There are slight differences in design and battery life between the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music and its predecessor, the Garmin Forerunner 235 — the watch I wore before getting this one. But its music-playing capability and course guidance are the biggest things that really set the newer model from the older one.
The 245 Music also has improved heart-rate technology with an updated sensor, while the 235 still has the brand’s first-generation tech.
Here’s a quick look at the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music’s cost, warranty, and refund policy:
- Price (MSRP): $349.99
- Shipping fee: free
- Included accessories: charging cable
- Financing options: four interest-free payments with Klarna
- Refund policy: can be returned for a full refund within 30 days of purchase
- Warranty/guarantee: 1-year original warranty, 90 days for repairs
The watch is available in three colors: black, white, and aqua. There are also compatible bands available in a variety of fun, bright colors that you can purchase at Amazon.
Compared with the Garmin Forerunner 235, the 245 Music has a softer and rounder design, though the five-button setup is the same.
It also has an LCD transflective display, making it easy to read even on sunny days.
You can customize the appearance of the watch face by adjusting the color, layout, and displayed data, or by downloading new watch faces from the Garmin IQ store.
Finally, the watch comes with a 1.65-inch (42-mm) case, which is less than an inch (about 2 mm) smaller than the case for the Forerunner 235.
As mentioned earlier, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music offers many of the same basic features as the Forerunner 235, including accurate and detailed sports tracking metrics.
However, there are several new additions to get excited about with the 245 Music, including:
- Training Status: uses your activity history and fitness level data to let you know if you’re training effectively
- Training Load: calculates your total 7-day training load
- Training Effect: rates your individual workouts by effectiveness
- Course Guidance: provides step-by-step guidance on inputted courses
You can also pair the watch with a running dynamics pod (sold separately) to get additional running metrics, such as ground contact time, stride length, and how much bounce is in your step.
Speaking of metrics, the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music also tracks:
- calories burned
- distance covered
- floors climbed
- sleep, heart rate
- VO₂ max
- lactate threshold
- menstrual cycle
Another notable feature is Incident Detection and Assistance, which allows you to use the watch to contact emergency services if needed. It’s also worth noting that you can access the feature even if you don’t sync your watch with your phone.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music also supports the following sports, in addition to standard road running:
- trail running
- track running
- indoor rowing
- elliptical training
- stair stepper
- cardio training
- indoor cycling
- pool swimming
- strength training
Forerunner 245 Music sensors
In addition to GPS and a compass, the Forerunner 245 Music is equipped with the following sensors:
- Wrist-based heart-rate monitor. You can view wrist-based heart rate data on your watch using the heart rate widget or in the Garmin Connect app on your phone. The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is also compatible with ANT+ chest heart rate monitors.
- Accelerometer. This sensor is used to calculate your speed, distance, and cadence when the GPS is turned off, such as when you’re running on a treadmill.
- Thermometer. By using your body temperature, this sensor helps alert you if you could be overexerting yourself, or if you’re putting yourself at risk for hyperthermia.
- Pulse oximetry blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitor. The pulse oximetry sensor gauges the saturation of oxygen in your blood, which can indicate how your body is adapting to exercise and stress. It works by shining a light into your skin and measuring how much light is absorbed.
In today’s day and age of technology, many runners expect to be able to access their data on a smartphone — something that Garmin makes easy to do with its free Garmin Connect App.
In fact, the first step to set up your watch is to create a Garmin Connect account.
Once your profile is made, you’ll be prompted to sync and pair your device, which allows the watch to automatically send data to the app anytime you save a workout and have a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection.
You can also sync the Garmin 245 Music to third-party training and fitness apps, like Strava (which I use as a personal training log) and TrainingPeaks (which my coach uses to assign and review my training).
For charging your device, the watch comes with a Garmin-branded charging cable, though there are compatible alternatives available on Amazon, should you ever need to buy an extra or replacement cable.
That said, Garmin also offers replacement chargers on its website, which are fairly inexpensive.
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music battery life
The Forerunner 245 Music offers a battery life of up to 7 days in Smartwatch mode.
However, regularly using GPS and playing music will deplete the charge much faster, with the company estimating up to 24 hours of charge using GPS and up to 6 hours when using both GPS and music.
Personally, I found that the watch’s battery drains a bit faster than my old Forerunner 235, but fortunately, the 245 Music gets back to a full charge in under 30 minutes.
I’ve been running with a Garmin GPS watch for over a decade now, ever since I decided to upgrade my $10 Timex stopwatch that I wore for my first marathon.
I started with one of the company’s basic no-frills models, the Forerunner 110, which didn’t do much more beyond acquiring a GPS signal, splitting each mile, and uploading my data to the Garmin Connect desktop program.
Since then, I’ve tried two other models, the Forerunner 620 and the Forerunner 235. For the most part, these models worked really well (at the end of the day, these basic functions are all I really need), though there were some drawbacks.
For example, the 620’s touchscreen technology was no match for heavy perspiration, as it was often difficult to scroll the screen efficiently with sweaty fingers.
Plus, as Garmin’s technology has continued to evolve, I quickly realized other models had features I wouldn’t mind having, like the ability to upload course maps for turn-by-turn directions.
In fact, this was the main reason I was eager to test the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music during my current marathon training cycle.
I train with a group for my Saturday long runs, which sometimes take us through parts of the city that I’m not very familiar with. Most of the people in my group are much faster than me, so it’s not as easy a fix as keeping up and following them.
Sure, I could always bring my phone and check the directions for the mapped route, but I prefer to leave my (large, heavy, and bulky) phone at home or in the car when I run.
Getting started with the watch
While the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music comes with a user manual, I found the watch easy to set up, though that could be because I’ve been wearing Garmin watches for about a decade.
Navigating from the home screen to the run screen was straightforward, and I appreciated being able to edit the layout of the data screen to show more or fewer fields during my run.
Specifically, I changed my settings so that the screen displays my total distance, average pace, current mile pace, and total time during my run.
Some of the watch’s menu screens are admittedly challenging to navigate, though. For example, I had to search the support section on Garmin’s website to figure out how to access the race predictor feature.
Once I was ready to start my run, the watch took only about 30 seconds to acquire a GPS signal. I was also happy to find that it maintained a steady connection with my Aftershokz wireless headphones.
During runs in the dark, I was particularly fond of being able to illuminate the watch face by simply tilting my wrist toward my face, rather than having to push a button on and off.
How to use course guidance
The feature I was most excited to try was the course feature. You can create a new course on your watch by going to “Navigation,” then “Courses,” then “Create New.”
You can also import a course to Garmin Connect and sync it with your watch via a GPX file, which can come from Garmin or a third-party app like MapMyRun — just keep in mind this process has to be done on a computer. You can get more specific instructions for how to do this on Garmin’s support page.
To follow a course, simply select a saved course before hitting the pavement. During your run, the watch will notify you just a few seconds before you need to make any changes in direction.
Downloading music using the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
The watch’s music component is supported by Spotify and Deezer apps, which allow you to store music and podcasts directly on your Forerunner 245 Music without having to bring your phone or another music player with you.
As long as you have a premium subscription, you can download the Spotify and Deezer apps onto your watch.
Alternatively, you can download music directly from your computer to your account on the Garmin Connect app. Once your playlists are in the app, you can then sync your music and playlists with your watch.
Downloading a 15-song playlist took me about 3 minutes.
Smartphone notifications and sleep tracking
Like most Garmin smartwatches, you can receive smartphone notifications on your watch whenever you’re near your phone.
You can also disable this feature if you’d prefer not to get pinged for every email and social media notification — this is what I did since I’d rather not get constant alerts on my wrist throughout the day.
Finally, if you wear your watch while you sleep, the Garmin Connect app will track your sleep time and how much of it was deep, light, or REM sleep. It also monitors how restless you are throughout the night.
The 245 Music watch is comfortable enough for most people to wear to sleep (my husband frequently does so), though I admittedly prefer not to sleep with it on.
The biggest differentiator between the Forerunner 245 Music and other Forerunner watches is the ability to store and play music.
That’s why it’s best-suited for people who want to listen to music while they run without needing to take their phone with them or worry about draining their phone’s battery.
Plus, it’s the most affordable Garmin watch that plays music, though it’s still not cheap.
Garmin also has a reputation for accurately measuring running metrics, like pace and distance, so if data is a top priority, in addition to the music component, then the Forerunner 245 Music is the watch for you.
For safety reasons, I tend not to listen to music when running outside. However, I found the watch useful for treadmill runs, as I could set the activity to treadmill mode and play music — all without needing my phone. Plus, if you want to change songs, you don’t have to scroll through your phone mid-run.
That said, if you’re not interested in having a watch that can store and play music, you’re better off purchasing the Garmin Forerunner 245, which offers all the same features — minus the music component — for roughly $50 less.
Here’s a quick look at how the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music compares to two of its main competitors, the Apple Watch 7 and the COROS VERTIX 2:
|Garmin Forerunner 245 Music||Apple Watch 7||COROS VERTIX 2|
|Price (MSRP)||$349.99||• 41 mm: $39|
• 45 mm: $429
|Weight||1.36 ounces (38.5 grams)||• 41 mm: 1.52 ounces (43.2 grams)|
• 45 mm: 1.81 ounces (51.5 grams)
|3.21 ounces (91 grams)|
|Battery life||• Smartwatch mode: up to 7 days|
• GPS with music: up to 6 hours
• GPS without music: up to 24 hours
|up to 18 hours||• Standard daily use: up to 60 days|
• GPS with music: up to 140 hours
• GPS without music: up to 35 hours
|Waterproof rating||50 meters||50 meters||100 meters|
|Heart rate monitoring||yes||yes||yes|
|Smart pay||no||yes, Apple Pay||no|
|Sport modes||• running|
• trail running
• track running
• indoor rowing
• elliptical training
• stair stepper
• cardio training
• indoor cycling
• pool swimming
• strength training
• stair stepper
• high intensity interval training (HIIT)
• functional strength training
• core training
• wheelchair use
• indoor running
• track running
• trail running
• mountain climbing
• cross-country skiing
• ski touring
• indoor biking
• pool swimming
• open water swimming
• gym cardio
• GPS cardio
• strength training
• whitewater rafting
• flatwater rafting
• indoor rowing
There are many reasons runners enjoy using wearable trackers. In addition to tracking your distance and speed, many products also keep tabs on your heart rate, sleep quality, and ideal recovery time.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 Music is designed for fitness enthusiasts who want to store and play music without needing to carry a phone in their pockets.
While it isn’t cheap, the Forerunner 245 Music provides accurate training metrics and boasts numerous features, making it well worth the investment.