Garmin Forerunner 935: 10 essential tips and tricks

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Like all of Garmin's top end GPS sports watches, the Forerunner 935 comes jam packed with features, but it does take some time getting to grips exactly what's it's truly capable of.

Yes, it's built mainly for tracking running, cycling, swimming but it can do a whole lot more. Then there's delving into Garmin Connect where there's even more modes and settings to tinker with on top of the onboard watch features.

Read this: Understanding your running watch stats

Whether you've bagged a 935 or you're thinking of buying one in the near future, we've spent a decent amount of time with the sports watch now and picked out some features and tips we think are worth knowing.

Got any more questions or issues with the Forerunner 935? Let us know in the comments section below.

Switching up watch faces

Garmin Forerunner 935: 10 essential tips and tricks

This is no Apple Watch or Android Wear watch, so watch faces don't look all that pretty, but at least you can change and customise them. There's a couple of ways to do this. The first is to go to the Connect IQ store from the Garmin Connect phone app, download a new watch face and when you next sync the watch to your phone, it will update the watch with the new face.

The other way is to do it is directly from the watch. Hold down the Up button to access the watch face customisation mode. You can scroll through the options and tinker with elements including the dial, hands, data, accent colour and background colour.

Check resting HR for the week

Garmin Forerunner 935: 10 essential tips and tricks

We've spoken a lot about the value of monitoring resting heart rate data and how it can help provide a better insight into you current state of fitness. The 935 packs in one of the better wrist-based optical heart rate sensors we've tried and can provide that information and display it from the watch.

If you scroll through the watch data screens you'll see resting HR from the last four hours but you can also see this data across a week. When you're on that resting heart rate screen, hit the Start/Stop button and you can see average RHR over the last seven days, which is arguably more insightful than seeing it for the day.

Calibrate those sensors

If you're doubting the reliability of the data being served up, there is a way to improve the accuracy and that's by calibrating the individual sensors like the compass and the altimeter. To do it, you need to press and hold down on the Up button and scroll down to Settings. Then head to Sensors and Accessories. When calibrating the compass you'll be prompted to rotate the watch in multiple directions. For the altimeter, you can enter the current elevation or use GPS to produce the data.

Take control of your music

Garmin Forerunner 935: 10 essential tips and tricks

Unfortunately, you can't load your tunes onto the Forerunner 935 like you can on the TomTom Spark 3. You can control playback, it's just not immediately obvious how you can do it though. To access the music playback controls you need to hold down the light button to bring up the menu screen. From here, select the music note icon and you'll be able to play, skip, repeat, shuffle and control music volume for native and third party music apps including Spotify.

Sort out your stride length

Another way to improve tracking accuracy specifically for step counting and running is to make sure that your stride length is correct. An easy way to work this out is to find somewhere where you know the exact distance and count the number of steps to calculate the stride length. To add this information, go to the Garmin Connect app then select the More tab, Settings and User Settings. Scroll down to Custom Stride Length, select running or walking and now you can manually input that information.

Avoid accidental tracking sessions

Garmin Forerunner 935: 10 essential tips and tricks

This has happened on the odd occasion. When the watch is sitting underneath a shirt or jacket and starts tracking an activity without you knowing about. There's a solution to get around this and that involves locking all of the physical buttons. Hold down the Light button, which will push you into the options and you'll find the option to lock the keys. When you need to unlock, simply hold down any button and you can start skipping through those screens again.

Race against yourself

Garmin has a really useful virtual partner mode, but it can be tricky to find out how to set it up and exactly where it lives. Once you've pressed down on the Up button, scroll down to Settings and then select Activities & Apps and go to Run. Head into Data Screens and scroll through until you see the Add New screen. Here you will be able to select the Virtual Partner and the set pace that you want to race against. When you next start an activity, you'll be able to view the virtual partner and keep an eye on how far ahead or behind you are.

Ditch notifications during workouts

Garmin Forerunner 935: 10 essential tips and tricks

Garmin's approach to adding smartwatch-style notifications is one of the best we've seen, but it can actually be a bit of a nuisance when a message pops up during activity tracking. To stop this, hold down the Up button and go to Settings. Scroll down to Phone, go to Smart Notifications and then select to turn them off completely or only show calls during workouts.

Tap into Insights

Garmin introduced its Insights software recently and for a long time it's not been all that helpful. Things have got better both for sports tracking and activity tracking. Hidden in the More tab in the Connect app you can now see how you fare to other Garmin users, but you can also select to View All Insights. This is where it will suggest to edit goals based on performances and give you handy hints on sleep and other aspects of your health and fitness regime.

Get a battery boost in tracking mode

Garmin Forerunner 935: 10 essential tips and tricks

Battery performance is pretty impressive on the Forerunner 935 as we explained in our review, but there's a way to boost stamina when you're out tracking. Head to the Settings menu by holding down the Up button and select Activities & Apps. If you're running, select Run then select Run Settings. Scroll down to GPS and now you'll be able to select from Normal, GPS + GLONASS and UltraTrac GPS modes. The latter turns off the GPS relying on the accelerometer motion sensor to track distance and speed but that massively improves battery performance. The same can be done for other activities like hiking and rowing as well.

TAGGED Garmin Running

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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