Garmin Forerunner 10 Review – Best Cheap GPS Running Watch 2012

garmin forerunner 10 gps running watch review

Reviewed by:
On August 17, 2012
Last modified:June 22, 2016


The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a stylish GPS running watch that tracks your distance, pace and calories. It’s Garmin lightest and most comfortable watch to date. It’s available in sporty green, pink, or black with red accents. It’s so easy to use, you can start your run by pressing one button. Forerunner 10 has a Virtual Pacer feature that compares your current running pace to your target.

Thanks for taking the time to read my Garmin Forerunner 10 review. This review of the Garmin Forerunner 10 is completely independent and un-biased as I have no affiliation with the company. I hope you find it useful, and if you do please feel free to share it on your social media networks using the buttons that you see on the right hand side of this Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS running watch review page.

2015 Update: Please note there is now a new version of the Garmin budget friendly running watch. Read the Garmin Forerunner 25 review.

Review of the Garmin Forerunner 10 – Introduction

So why have Garmin released the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch?  Well quite simply it’s to give them a foothold in the entry level market for GPS-enabled running and sports watches.

Traditionally the Garmin Forerunner range have been high-end models, however, with companies such as Nike releasing cheaper and more affordable GPS sports watches, Garmin needed to compete in that space – and so the Garmin 10 Forerunner is now here with a price point of around $75 US Dollars.

Garmin FR10 Black and Red GPS Running Watch

Cheap Garmin Forerunner 10 – Affordable Running Watch

If you are looking for a cheap price GPS sport watch then the Garmin Forerunner 10 could be a great option for you.  This affordable GPS watch comes in three different colors; pink (for ladies, or perhaps just fans of pink color), green (unisex), and black (Garmin 10 men’s). The Garmin Forerunner 10 black is probably better suited as a men’s version – because it is slightly larger than the pink and green models and can look too big on smaller wrists. The different models are as follows:

Garmin Forerunner 10 Review - Pink Ladies, Forerunner 10 Green, and Forerunner 10 Black

What’s in the Forerunner 10 Box?

The package and box that the Garmin Forerunner 10 watch comes in isn’t going to win any style awards – but I can look past that given what’s inside the actual packaging. As part of my Garmin Forerunner 10 review I wanted to list out every single item that you will get if you buy this watch – here’s what you get:

  • Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS-Enabled Watch
  • USB Ant+ Stick
  • USB Charging Cable
  • Charging Clip
  • Manual

One thing I have always liked about the Forerunner GPS watches is that they come fully charged in box, meaning you can get started straight away.  The Forerunner 10 GPS fitness monitor is no different.  When it comes to charging the Forerunner 10 you won’t get an AC adapter for plugging straight into the wall.  Instead you will need to use the USB charging cable that comes in the box.

Charging the Forerunner 10 Battery

Garmin Forerunner 10 USB Charging Cable
This is really simple to use and can be done through your PC or Mac. All you do is clip the charging clip to the rear of the Garmin 10 running watch and then insert the other end of the cable into a USB port on your computer… it will then start to charge up automatically and you see the charging progress indicated on the watch display.

Typically I tend to charge the watch battery during time I am uploading my Forerunner running data to the Garmin Connect website (more about that later). The charging cable is white, and almost looks like a Apple accessory – which makes me think that the design team at Garmin are starting to up their game when it comes to the design of their products.  For a long time, many of their GPS watches did look a little bit clunky and boring… the Forerunner 10 GPS is a definite departure from that though as you can see from the photos below.

Design of the Forreunner 10 Green Pink and Black

Running with the Garmin Forerunner 10

Getting started is dead simple. As I said, the Forerunner 10 is already charged when you take it out the box so you can start running straight away.  The start button is the one located on the top right of the running watch.  Once you hit that the Forerunner 10 will look for satellites.  Make sure that you do this outdoors – that might sound obvious to some, but it will only be able to locate satellites with a clear view of the sky.

Locating Satellites

The first time that you ask the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS-enabled sport watch to locate satellites, it might take a couple of minutes.  However, the next time you use it this should happen a lot quicker in around half a minute.  I have noticed with other Forerunner models that if you don’t use the watch for a couple of weeks, then the next time you try to locate satellites it can take longer than expected.  This can be a little bit frustrating, but in a worst case scenario you will never be waiting longer than two minutes from my own personal experience.

Simply Press Start and Go on the Garmin Forerunner 10
Once the GPS location has been verified, you simply press the start button again and you are ready to go.  You can then start running, and can view the running data in real-time on the watch face as you go.

Forerunner 10 Data Display Functions

When running, it’s possible to choose from a number of different displays depending on what kind of data or information you want to read as you run.  You can choose from a pair of data settings to show, which means that the display will show each setting on top of each other – for example Time as the top number and Distance along the bottom (you can see an example in the photo below).

Garmin Forerunner 10 Display Screens

The different data display variations are as follows:

  • Distance & Calories Burned
  • Pace & Calories Burned
  • Pace & Distance
  • Time & Calories Burned
  • Time & Distance
  • Time & Pace

The most sensible and default setting to use would be the Time & Distance one as for most runners those are the important factors that they want to see whilst running.  It’s worth noting though, that you can scroll through the setting listed above as you simply by pressing the button the bottom left hand side of the Garmin GPS 10 watch.

Bundle Shot of the Garmin Forerunner 10

Using Virtual Pacer on the Garmin Forerunner 10

Virtual Pacer is one of the best aspects to the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS as it helps to motivate the runner and let them set targets to beat whilst running. It’s easy to use too.

Before you start your run you can create a pace that you want to run at, for example let’s say you don’t want to drop below running at 8 minutes per mile. If you start to drop below that pace, or are going too fast, then the Forerunner 10 will notify you with a beep so you can adjust your speed to get back on track. This is how you do it:

  1. Access the Virtual Pacer menu on the display.
  2. Configure your pace you want to run at (can be set to either miles or kilometres).
  3. Confirm the pace settings and then start your run as normal.

As you start running with Garmin Forerunner 10 you will notice that on the scrolling display you now have a new setting which is Virtual Pacer. It shows your current pace and tells you whether you are ahead or behind your target pace setting.  Check out the video below which show an actual real life example of a runner using the Garmin Forerunner 10 Virtual Pacer function.

Plan Your Runs with the Garmin Forerunner 10

You might not be the kind of runner who simply wants to set off and see how far you get. Garmin have thought about this too with the Forerunner 10 GPS enabled unisex sports watch. It’s possible to enter a running time into the display. As an example, you might want to set a time duration for your run of say, 20 minutes. This is easy to arrange, you simply enter in the running time, and when you reach the end of the run, the Forerunner 10 GPS watch notifies you with a beep.

Using the Auto Lap Function

Another aspect to the Forerunner 10 which helps you motivate yourself and stick to the running plan is the Auto Lap function. Most people will probably set their lap distances to be one mile, and this is the default setting on the Forerunner. By turning this function on, the Forerunner 10 will beep every time you hit you end a lap distance, and will also display the time it took you to complete that lap on the display of the watch.

This is pretty cool because it’s another way of pacing yourself and motivating yourself as you run.  For example, you could be aiming to always run a 9 minute mile.  Please note that Auto Lap is nothing to do with the area you are running in – it is purely a distance-based lap.  So that lap could be run anywhere in your neighborhood, as long as it is 1 mile (or whatever lap distance you specified on the menu).

Features of the Forerunner 10 including Virtual Pacer
There is also an Auto Pause feature.  I tend not to use this function, but it could be useful if you are doing a lot of inner city running.  All it does it let you pause the GPS recording temporarily.  The best example I can give is perhaps you are running through the city and need to stop at a pedestrian crossing whilst cars drive through.

Personal Records and History

Another option available on the watch display is the History section. This displays your past runs as well as your personal records – for example the longest, quickest, and furthest distances you have achieved. The types of personal record available are as follows:

  • Longest Run
  • Fastest 5k
  • Fastest 10k
  • Fastest Mile

Please note, that all of this data is also available in Garmin Connect.  Scroll further down my Garmin Forerunner 10 review to find out how to use the Garmin 10 with the Connect website – below is a screenshot showing how personal records appear on the website once you have uploaded your runs.

Features of the Forerunner 10 including Virtual Pacer

Water Proof and Durable Design

The Garmin Forerunner 10 is water resistant up to a depth of 50 meters.  Whilst it’s unlikely you will ever need to submerge the GPS watch that deep, it does mean that it won’t be adversely affected by rain, sweat (or even blood and tears depending on how hard you push yourself!).

Interestingly, this means that the Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS enabled watch can also be used for swimming – which makes it a very affordable and cheap GPS watch for those who are taking part in triathlon training. Garmin do offer a more specialist triathlon training watch in the 920XT, but the Forerunner 10 could be a cheap alternative if you want to spend less than $150.

Garmin Forerunner 10 Battery Life

The battery life of the Garmin GPS Forerunner 10 watch apart is a lot lower than other models in the Garmin range – it will only last on a full charge in GPS mode for 5 hours.  However, if you choose to wear it as an everyday digital watch then you can switch GPS off – and this will extend the battery life out to 5 weeks.

To be honest, this should never be an issue when you are running unless you are running two marathons in a row – unlikely! However, it will mean you will need to re-charge the battery every seven to fourteen days depending on how much running you do.  Re-charging the battery takes around an hour and can be done in the background via USB whilst your PC or Mac is switched on.

Operating the Backlight

Do you want to run at night with your new running watch?  If you do then you will need to enable the backlight that comes on the watch.  Be aware though, that by using the backlight it can drain the battery life. To enable it you press the top left corner button on the watch face.  This will then illuminate the watch for ten seconds to help save the battery. The light will not be permanently switched on.

Cycling Using the Forerunner 10

Garmin Edge Cycling GPS
This running watch is not really designed to be used as a cycling GPS as Garmin make far better products that work for bikes (check out the Garmin Edge range – the Edge 500 is pictured) – however, it is possible to use the Forerunner 10 on your bicycle.

You will need to purchase a Forerunner bicycle mount kit though in order to attach it to the bike handlebars and when using the watch will need to set the pace instead to speed – for example, rather than the display showing minutes per mile, it will instead need to be set to show miles per hour.

Forerunner 10 HRM – There is No Heart Rate

Before you buy this watch be aware that there is no heart rate monitor with this version.  If you want a Garmin Forerunner 10 with heart rate monitor then you will be disappointed because this model has no compatibility.  An HRM is used by runners who want to monitor their heart rate – and is a strap worn around the chest that connects wirelessly to the watch.

Garmin Forerunner 10 With Heart Rate Monitor - Not Possible
For beginner to intermediate runners this probably isn’t the most important aspect of data to be monitoring so should not really be an issue for you – at the end of the day the low price point that the Forerunner 10 is set at means that it was never going to come with everything.

If you do want a Garmin GPS heart rate monitor watch, then try some of the more expensive models. The best price deals on these can be found on Amazon – click here to view the entire range.

Using the Garmin 10 GPS Watch with Garmin Connect

When you buy any Garmin running watch you will benefit from the Garmin Connect website – which is absolutely awesome.  It is free to join and is the place where you can upload all of your running activities so you can replay them, analyze them, set up goals, training schedules – in essence, Garmin Connect will help motivate you in using your Forerunner 10 GPS-enabled sports watch and will mean you will get the most from the product.

This is how it works: as soon as you have finished running with the Garmin Forerunner 10 running watch you connect the USB cable to the watch and your PC. You then log into the Garmin Connect website and click on the Upload button. Garmin Connect will then transfer your running data from the watch to your account.

Set Goals on Garmin Connect with FR10
Once your run is uploaded to Garmin Connect you can then look at it in more detail – here are some of the functions available in Garmin Connect with the Forerunner 10.

  • Shows all your activities
  • Lets you replay your run with Google or Bing maps
  • Displays each lap time and split
  • You can analyze data such as speed, pace, calories, and much more
  • You can plan your next run
  • Compare previous runs and set new targets
  • Create data reports on your running with Forerunner 10
  • Plan course, workouts, and goals using the calendar function
  • Displays your personal records

To be honest, there is so much functionality when using a Forerunner 10 and Garmin Connect that I could not possibly cover it all in this Forerunner 10 review.  All I will say is this – by being able to use Garmin Connect with the Forerunner 10 you will undoubtedly use the running watch more, get more out of it, and help motivate you to get fit.

Personal Records with Garmin Connect and FR10

Share Your Running Activities with Friends

You can also share your activities with your friends.  This can be done in a number of ways, you can either share on Facebook and other social media platforms, or even embed the running activity into another website or blog – it’s very cool.

Check some of the Garmin Connect screenshots to see what’s involved, or better still click here to sign-up with your own free account.

Garmin Forerunner 10 Review

So that’s my review of the Garmin Forerunner 10. Below is a bullet list of what I think the best and worst bits are about this GPS-enabled running watch and then my conclusion.  If you do decide that you want to buy then click here for the Garmin Forerunner 10 best price deals.

Forerunner 10 – Best Bits

  • Cheapest Garmin Forerunner in the range – it’s affordable
  • Water resistant
  • Cool looking design
  • Works with Garmin Connect to help motivate and train you
  • Very easy to use – you can simply press start and go
  • Virtual Pacer compares current pace to target to keep you running
  • Records your position, speed, pace, distance and calories
  • GPS accuracy is very impressive

Forerunner 10 – Worst Bits

  • Battery life could be longer – need to re-charge after every 5 hours of running
  • No heart rate monitor (HRM) for more serious runners

Garmin 10 Forerunner Review – Conclusion

Overall this is a superb product and is the best GPS-enabled running and sports watch on the market in this price range.  Whilst it might not have the highly fashionable name of Nike, it is developed by Garmin – who are the world leader when it comes to GPS and GPS running watches.

For a little over $100 Dollars you won’t find a better deal on a running watch. The Garmin Forerunner 10 (best price watch in my view) has more functionality, features, and data options than other watches in the same price bracket.

If you are a beginner or intermediate runner who want to start recording their runs then buy this watch, and also sign-up to Garmin Connect – as that’s where the real power and motivation for your running happens.  Personally I would recommend the Forerunner 10 to any of my friends.

Garmin Forerunner 10 Best Price

The banner below will take you to the best deals. Amazon is by far the cheapest online retailer that I have found for Garmin sports watches and always have significant money off the whole range.

garmin forerunner 10 best running watch for beginners
The Garmin Forerunner 10 is a stylish GPS running watch that tracks your distance, pace and calories. It’s Garmin lightest and most comfortable watch to date. It’s available in sporty green, pink, or black with red accents. It’s so easy to use, you can start your run by pressing one button. Forerunner 10 has a Virtual Pacer feature that compares your current running pace to your target.

About the Author

Si Dawson
Marathon runner and fitness trainer (and part time blogger). Simon Dawson uses Garmin Forerunner running watches to keep in shape, he enjoys blogging and sharing his views.