Garmin HRM-Run Review 2021: Is it the Best Heart Rate Monitor?

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A heart rate monitor is a very important device in all matters of fitness. It gives a ton of information about the body.

This is how you get to know how to work out smart!

Today, we’ll review one of the best heart rate monitors, The Garmin HRM-Run. 

Welcome to the Garmin HRM-Run Review, here’s a breakdown of what we’ll cover:

  • About the Garmin brand 
  • Pros of the Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor
  • Cons of the Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor
  • Buyers guide on heart rate sensors 
  • Benefits of using the Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor
  • What others are saying about the Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor
  • 3 alternatives to the Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor Review

Garmin HRM-Run Black/Red

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About the “Garmin ” brand

Garmin is an American tech company founded in 1989 by Gary Burell and Min Kao in Lenexa, Kansas, US. They are best known for their GPS technology for airplanes, motor vehicles, marine, and outdoor activities. This success opened up the opportunity to conquer the activity tracker and smartwatch industries.  

The Garmin HRM-run is one of its products under the ‘activity tracker’ category. 

Special Features (Pros) of The Garmin HRM-Run

Tracking capabilities

The Garmin HRM-run is a data geek. Unlike its predecessor the HRM3 that provided 3 metrics, this one tracks 6!  These are:

  • Cadence

This is the number of steps per minute. You don’t need the strap to get this information. This is because most sports watches and fitness apps can derive values. All Garmin watches, including the FR620 display cadence. So the strap is kind of a backup. And you may actually need it. Why? The importance of manipulating cadence can’t be underestimated.

Sometimes, accelerometers used to track cadence may fail. This mostly happens in sport watches. So the strap kicks in to supplement this need. In this model, you now get the cadence of both feet. As in distance traveled by one foot from the last point when it was in contact with the ground. Older models only tracked one foot. 

  • Vertical Oscillation

This is the measure of how much a runner’s torso bounces off the ground while running. It’s measured in centimeters for each step. This is useful in ensuring that you keep your “sprinting force” at optimal levels.

  • Stride length

This represents the distance between your feet from one footfall to the next. It’s measured in meters. 

  • Vertical Ratio

This is the ratio of vertical oscillation to stride length. It’s expressed as a percentage. A lower value typically indicates a better running form.

  • Ground Contact Time

This is the measure of the amount of time your foot spends on the ground each time you step. It’s measured in milliseconds. It decreases with an increase in speed. You may want to track this metric if you wish to improve your agility.

  • Ground Contact Time Balance

It’s the measure of the discrepancy between the ground contact time of the left and right foot. It seeks to check if your feet spend the same time on the ground each time they step. It’s represented as a percentage, usually above 50%. An arrow also points to the foot( Left/ Right) that spends the most time on the ground. 

Design

Since the premiere of the Garmin HRM3, the industry has seen a ton of newcomers. The HRM-run build on the success of its predecessor. In fact, side-by-side, you can hardly tell the physical difference between the two. You get a flexible nylon fabric on the outer side of the strap. 

The strap has an extension belt to accommodate extra-large users. Regardless of your size, it’s likely that you’ll find a snuggly fit. Another subtle update is a tiny, cute runner icon on the sensor module. It’s meant to distinguish the sensor from the rest of the lineup. Most chest strap heart rate monitors use clips to secure the sensor module in place. 

The HRM-run uses four screws. This makes it next to impossible for it to accidentally come out. It’s also recessed on the inner side. This improves the level of grip with the skin for better readings.

Water Resistance

The Garmin HRM-run is rated 5ATM water-resistant. This means that it can function in pressures of up to 5 atmospheres. This is equivalent to a 50M depth in water. Note that this rating only refers to pressure and not immersion. You can’t dive to 50M with this monitor. However, you can shower or swim with it. 

Due to the weak nature of the signal, vital information can’t be transmitted in water. The strap also does a good job of dripping off the water quickly. Speaking of which, it’s not machine-washable. Garmin recommends a light wipe after every run or a hand wash after every seven days. 

Remember to use a mild detergent and let the gadget hand dry. You don’t need to remove the sensor module when washing though.

Battery life

The Garmin HRM-run uses a non-rechargeable coin cell battery. On one hand, this is convenient since you don’t have to recharge it every now and then. On the other hand, the whole battery replacement process might be a hustle for some people. Considering you need a Philips 00 screwdriver to crack the back open. 

If that’s not an issue, then you are good to go. A 300-hour battery lifespan is waiting for you. Some users claim to have gotten different stamina. Regardless, this unit is likely to last you at least 6 months under normal usage. The electrodes used on the sensor consumer less power and have a high sensitivity. This also saves battery life. 

Drawbacks( cons) of the Garmin HRM-Run

Limited Connectivity

The Garmin HRM-run only supports ANT+. No Bluetooth. This makes it impossible to use with most devices and smartphones. It’s meant to be used with a compatible Garmin device like the Garmin vivoactive 4.

Analysis

This does not apply to everyone. We appreciate the many metrics that can be tracked by the HRM-run. However, some of us may not know how to use this data. At least, we may not know which areas to improve for our desired results. 

If you fall under this category, you may want to check out the Lumo Run. It’s a tiny device that you can stick on any part of your gear. It will analyze all the data coming in. It then gives personalized recommendations based on your previous results. 

Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor Buyers Guide

Understanding your heart rate helps accelerate your journey to fitness prowess. All the vital information it provides can help us improve the form and intensity of our training. Consider the following factors before investing your hard-earned money on a heart rate monitor:

1. Price

The quality of components, reliability of firmware, durability, and customer support are some of the top things that dictate the price of a heart rate monitor. Pay less and you’ll be frustrated with inaccurate results. In addition, you may experience intermittent connections and weak batteries. 

Pay more and enjoy reliable connections, strong hardware, and software. As always, you get what you pay for. 

Connectivity

Unless you are an exclusive Garmin user, I recommend dual-band connections. As in, have the monitor support both ANT+ and Bluetooth. This allows you to pair with anything from smart fitness equipment, smartphones, and fitness apps. NFC would be necessary only if you wish to use the sensor in a commercial gym. It facilitates comms with other equipment.

Battery life

The battery is arguably the most important part of a heart rate sensor. It ensures you can get the service whenever you need it. The minimum threshold battery stamina can only be dictated by the total length of your workouts in a day. I recommend at least 6 hours on a single charge. This means you may not need to recharge daily. 

Check that you can easily find a coin cell battery replacement near you. If that’s the type of monitor you are using. You should also know the replacement procedure. Otherwise, ensure that you get a wireless or USB rechargeable model. 

Comfort and fit

A heart rate monitor should be snuggly and cozy. Not too tight or loose. Either extreme will alter your heart rate readings. Also, ensure that the strap is flexible and easily adjustable. It should also stay in place and maintain the same proper grip over a long period of usage. 

Performance

The firmware should work with the hardware to deliver a smooth experience. This starts with easy, responsive control buttons. It also includes efficient signal processing and transmission. It should maintain a stable connection throughout the duration of your workout. It should also support most file formats and Bluetooth codecs to collaborate with more devices. 

Durability

The material used in the construction of the strap should be flexible, easy to clean, and hardy. It should also maintain its color over a long period. The sensor module should be housed in a tough shell. It could be industrial plastic, glass, carbon fiber, or ceramic. Frequent software updates would be nice to keep the device timeless. 

Type

Finally, you got to pick your poison. Wait, Poison? Not really. Catch this. There are “armband-style” and “chest strap-style” heart rate sensors. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s examine each:

  • Armband type

Uses an optical sensor with LEDs to shoot light through your vessels. Blood, being a liquid, distorts the light. This alteration in reflected light is converted into heart rate readings. 

Advantages

  • Highly portable
  • Super comfortable 

Disadvantages

  • A little inaccurate 

Some models have single-color LEDs that disadvantage certain skin tones.

  • Chest strap

These use electrodes to measure the heart’s electrical activity. That’s why they are worn on the chest, near the heart. They also require direct skin contact for higher accuracy. These signals are quantified into heart rate readings. 

Advantages

  • Better grip 
  • High accuracy 
  • Gives room for other devices on the wrist

Disadvantages

  • May be uncomfortable and congesting 

Benefits of Garmin HRM-Run Heart Rate Monitor

  1. High durability 
  2. Reliable battery 
  3. Its highly accurate
  4. Water and sweat-resistant 
  5. Provides lots of useful information 
  6. It’s compatible with all Garmin devices 

What Other Are Saying About The Garmin HRM-Run

User feedback is an important source of real information on the performance of a product you haven’t interacted with yet. So I did some homework for you and the general response seems to be rather positive. Here’s what some verified buyers had to say about The Garmin HRM-run:

One customer said:

 

Another customer said:

 

Another customer said:

Alternatives to The Garmin HRM-Run

1. Scosche Rhythm+ Armband Heart Rate Monitor – Best Alternative 4.9/5

Scosche Rhythm+ Heart Rate Monitor Armband- Optical Heart Rate Armband Monitor with Dual Band Radio ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart - Bonus Pack includes Additional Free Armband

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The Scosche Rythm+ is a terrific armband heart rate monitor. It comes in a solid shell that houses the optical sensor. It has a single button on the center that controls everything. It powers the device on/off and puts it in pairing mode. It transmits data via dual-band ANT+ and Bluetooth channels. 

It’s compatible with over 200 fitness apps that analyze the information. The strap is made of breathable neoprene. It’s strong, flexible, and easy to clean. You can use this device under any conditions, thanks to its IP67 water resistance rating. 

Key features of the Scosche Rythm+

  • Minimalist design 
  • Excellent battery life
  • Water and sweat-resistant 
  • Comfortable and fits snuggly
  • Supports dual-band ANT+ and Bluetooth connections

Notable differences between the Scosche Rythm+ and the Garmin HRM-run

  1. Lighter
  2. Cheaper 
  3. Uses an armband instead of a chest strap

2. Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband-armband alternative 4.5/5

Wahoo TICKR FIT Heart Rate Monitor Armband, Bluetooth/ANT+

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The Wahoo Tickr Fit is an accurate heart rate sensor by optical standards. It’s worn on the forearm. The strap is made of thick polyester fabric with velcro buckles. You get two different-sized straps with the purchase of each unit. It’s rated IPX4 water-resistant. You should have no problem using it in the rain or when sweating hard. 

The monitor is also compatible with over 50 fitness apps. Data is sent via Bluetooth or ANT+ or both. The connections are stable and reliable. It has an excellent battery of over 30 hours. The unit uses a USB charging cradle to fill up the battery in 2 hours. A status LED lights to warn you about low battery. It tracks heart rate, calories burned and time spent training.

Key features of the Wahoo Tickr Fit heart rate monitor

  • Long battery life 
  • Reliable connections 
  • Excellent build quality 
  • Water and sweat-resistant 
  • Compatible with several fitness apps 

Noticeable differences between the Wahoo Tickr Fit and the Garmin HRM-run heart rate monitors

  1. Lighter
  2. Cheaper 
  3. Uses an armband instead of a chest strap 
  4. Uses an optical sensor in place of an electrode 

3. POLAR H10 Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap – Chest Strap Alternative 4/5

Polar H10 Heart Rate Monitor

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This is also a chest strap heart rate monitor just like the HRM-run. It comes in four colors-black, gray, orange, and turquoise. I like its simple design. It has a silicon/Poly-hydrocarbon strap with dot buckles. These allow for finer tension adjustments to ensure everyone gets a snuggly fit. Only the Polar logo is imprinted on the front. 

The gadget uses super-accurate electrodes that provide reliable results. It’s IP 67 waterproof, looks, and feels durable. It supports dual-band ANT+ and Bluetooth connections. You also receive firmware updates via the same channel. 

Key features of the Polar H10 heart rate monitor

  • High accuracy 
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent battery life 
  • Durable construction 
  • Water and sweat-resistant

Notable differences between the Polar H10 and the Garmin HRM-Run heart rate monitors

  1. Cheaper 
  2. Supports Bluetooth 
  3. Available in wider color options 

Conclusion

Heart rate monitors are great devices to keep tabs with our fitness progress. An ideal heart rate monitor should be reliable, durable, and comfortable to wear. The Garmin HRM-run is highly accurate, has excellent construction, and has easily-adjustable, flexible straps. It does way more than measure your heart rate. 6 other things to be precise. 

Our Bluetooth smart devices are left out here. So take note of that. If you want something that may work well with your smartphone or Bluetooth smartwatch, check out the Powr Labs Bluetooth heart rate monitor. It’s cheaper but still premium and works with both Bluetooth and ANT+.

Maintain proper hygiene on your straps to avoid foul smell and growth of bacteria. For obvious reasons. Thanks for reading to the end. If you liked our work, check out more amazing fitness content on the site.

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