Garmin Woes

In addition to the Self-Portrait Project, another item I mentioned in my Happy New Year post was that I wanted to work on using more of the features of my Garmin Forerunner 305. It’s got a lot of nice built-in features beyond keeping track of pace and distance. I purchased those features… I should use them, right?

Well that hasn’t worked out how I anticipated.

First, the HR strap is GIANT and doesn’t fit around my chest, even when I have to pulled in as tight as it will go. So I have it kind of jury-rigged with a giant safety pin. Thus I don’t know if I’m getting a truly accurate reading. It’s also kind of uncomfortable when there is a bump that consists of about 5 levels of the strap layered on top of itself on my back. But if I’m getting accurate readings from it… DAMN! I should run harder or something. I think my average HR for my 4 miler the other day was 105.

It constantly tells me it has trouble connecting when I place it on the base to sync to the computer. It has done this since DAY 1. I tried reporting this to Garmin customer support within the first week, but they just kind of blew it off. They encouraged me to reset the device, but that’s never fixed the syncing issue. I have to put the watch on the base 3 or 4 times every time I sync it before it responds.

I wanted to try setting up custom workouts as well, but the minute that I try to do anything in the Garmin Training Center and send it to the device, well… it starts to freak out. First, it messes up the whole user profile. It starts telling me I burned thousands upon thousands of calories on each run. Even though I’m not supposed to care about the calorie burn, it does annoy me when the device tells me I’ve burned 7468 calories on a 3 mile run… that’s just screaming “I’m malfunctioning!” at me. When I try to fix the user profile in the device the fields are all jacked up with strange symbols displayed instead of real numbers. And if I try to adjust the user profile in the desktop software, the entire program locks up then crashes. And once the user profile is messed up, if I want to get the fields back to a point where I can read them and put in my birthdate and weight properly, I have to reset it all. Once I’ve erased all the data in the Garmin I can go back and enter the user profile information in the watch and get more appropriate calorie burn data, but I can’t create my own training pace zones or workouts.

I’m frustrated with these issues. For several days it stopped working completely, wouldn’t record workouts or respond to anything I did. The start/stop button gets stuck down on occasion. These are little things and the overall pace/distance functions are still there, but I want to use it all!

Due to all of these, I’ve gotten fairly proficient at resetting my Garmin pretty regularly. I found some tips early on that helped me and thought I would share them here. (Plus, it allows me to have a source for easy reference if I need it!)

Garmin Forerunner 305 Reset Tips:

The soft reset is simply performed by pressing the lap + mode buttons at the same time. This will cause your unit to power down if it is on/frozen (and often the unit appears off when frozen). No data will be lost using this reset. Press the power button to startup and most problems will be cleared.

The hard-reset is performed by holding down the mode button while powering on (two buttons, that’s it). When your unit powers on you will be prompted as to whether you really want to perform the reset or not (be sure you do if you answer yes, as you will lose your data). This reset often needs to be preceded by the soft-reset.

The third reset is another hard-reset, but you should only use this one as a last resort as it bypasses the prompt in the more common hard-reset. It can be hard to do, so you may want to try a few times if nothing happens. Press and hold mode and enter. Press power but do not hold it. Continue holding mode and enter for several seconds. If it works, the unit should power on and go through the initial settings wizard after you release the buttons. You can see the screen flicker after pressing and releasing the power button, and that’s how to know that you can release the other buttons.

From message boards on Slowtwitch

For those of you with Garmin devices, do you have any technical difficulties with them? Share your experiences in the comments… And if anyone has the 405cx or the 310xt, please let me know how you like those!


  1. having worked in a specialty running store and having actually used and tested Garmins, here is what i will tell you about the 405 and the 310.

    DO NOT. I REPEAT, DO NOT. BUY THE 405. you will be sorry. Get the 310. its awesome. beyond awesome.

    Carry on.

    Oh and if you have a specialty running store where you bought it, you might go by there and see if there is a sized strap you can switch out with. thats unacceptable and you are right, your readings wont be that accurate.

  2. Jill – so sorry to hear that you are having issues with your Garmin. (and have had them it sounds like since you started using it). I’ve been running with the 405 for 338 runs, 2,421 miles and more than 302 hours, 55 minutes with not a single issue. Amazingly true.

    This is my second garmin as I started out long ago with the 201 and again, had great luck.

    I can’t imagine your frustration as that device is like a family member at this point – has gotten me to the starting line at Boston this year and I know that would have been impossible with all the great training data.

    I’d reach out to those guys again at Garmin and ask what they can do for you —- too much money spent on a device that should be a great, great training tool. Best of luck from Austin, Joe

  3. I’ve never used one, but your experiences aren’t encouraging me to either! Hope you get some better results–that’s a big expenditure not to have it work for you.

  4. i have the 405 but i can’t remember what letters come after it (if any, hah) i just don’t remember what i bought… i haven’t learned any of the features of it – just start/stop and sometimes the lap button. sometimes that malfunctions though. i’m definitely not getting my money’s worth out of it i’m sure! 🙂

    sorry to hear about the hr strap troubles. i don’t have the issue of mine being too big thanks to my broad shoulders (and therefore rib cage, of course! that’s my reasoning ok).

  5. I have yet to jump on the Garmin train. And I am unsure if I ever will. I don’t think I need it (although I would love to know my pace) because I am not real serious. Who knows, maybe one will pop into my life at some point and I will fall in love.

  6. I got a Garmin back in October and still have yet to really use it. I can’t seem to even operate the start function as when I do it seems to stop somewhere before I finish my run. So frustrating.

  7. I have the 205, which is the same as yours without the heart rate monitor. I have issues, not the least of which is the wrist band itself is bulky and uncomfortable. As far as not connecting to Garmin Connect, I had the exact problem you did. Customer service never solved it. I am convinced that my Garmin is a bit of a lemon. However, I downloaded Sport Tracks and upload my Garmin data to that with no problems whatsoever. I like the info it gives me and the ease of uploading. I don’t use Garmin Connect at all.

    I still haven’t used the workout feature successfully (once I tried doing intervals with marginal success). I also want to try out the virtual partner to monitor my pace.

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