First Look at the New Garmin Forerunner 935

By Alison Freeman

I bought my 920XT when it first came out in November, 2014. Since then, Garmin has introduced *FIVE* multisport watches: the Fenix 3, the Fenix 3 HR, the Forerunner 735XT, the Fenix 5S-5-5X, and the Forerunner 935. I’d held out as long as I could, and I finally couldn’t take it any more and upgraded.


I did a fair amount of research prior to ordering my Forerunner 935, mostly on the Garmin website and on My priorities were to find the right balance between watch size, price and battery life without giving up features like wifi that I’m accustomed to having. Oh – and to finally be able to ditch the heart rate strap that has given me some awesome permanent scarring (I’ll spare you the photos).

Ultimately, I chose the 935 over the Fenix 5S because, while I preferred the smaller size of the 5S, the battery life and price of the 935 were more important to me.


As someone who’s been using one version or another of the square Garmin for years upon years, moving to a round Garmin was a major upgrade. It’s so light, and so thin! Even the watch band seems lighter than the 920’s. Plus, it knows it’s a watch – any time you’re not recording an activity like cycling or running it automatically reverts to a watch face.

Also, the screen resolution is significantly improved from the 920. It’s sleeker, cleaner, and more legible than the 920.


Moving from a square to a round Garmin did take some getting used to. All the buttons on the 935 are in different places, and the up/down buttons are on the left instead of right side. When I first turned it on and started playing I kept pressing buttons and had NO IDEA what was going on. After a few minutes I started to figure it out, but it took a few days before I was fully used to navigating the new setup.

Because the 935’s navigation is more complex than the 920’s, I’ve made a point of setting up my most frequent activities as favorites as well as customizing the controls menu and hot keys so that the features I use most are quickly accessible.


All of the features that I had used regularly on the 920 are still there on the 935: the full range of individual and multisport activity profiles plus several new ones, plus smart notifications, alerts, and interval training. In addition, there is a huge range of new features that I’m just starting to explore:

  • The pre-loaded Training Peaks app, which allows me to pull up and complete today’s TrainingPeaks structured workout.
  • Smart functions like displaying today’s weather and my appointment calendar (both require connection to your phone’s GarminConnect app).
  • Basic yet logical watch functions, like a timer and stopwatch.
  • A vastly expanded set of performance measurements, powered by Firstbeat.

Optical Heart Rate

By far one of my favorite upgrades is the optical heart rate feature. The 935 has a sensor on the back of the watch that continuously measures your heart rate, about once every second. Do you need to know your heart rate throughout the day? Not necessarily, but knowing and monitoring your resting heart rate can give you some insights into your recovery status, so it’s not totally useless.

Over the course of a few weeks, I’ve found that the readings from the optical heart rate monitor have generally been accurate and consistent enough that I trust the feedback I’m getting during my workouts. And you don’t have to get the heart rate data just on your watch. The optical heart rate data can be broadcast, just like a strap, so you can pick it up during a TrainerRoad or Zwift workout, on your bike computer, or on your 920.

The only downside to optical heart rate is that it the watch has to be against your skin in order to know your heart rate (duh). So if you use the optional quick release kit, you won’t get heart rate readings when the watch is on your bike (which is why I’m now using my 920 as my bike computer). Also, the 935 has to simultaneously see the sky to get a GPS signal, which can create a dilemma on cold days – so I (sadly) didn’t trash the heart rate strap from my 920. Good news is that the 935’s GPS seems to be pretty darn accurate grabbing GPS through a single layer of clothing.

Battery Life

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to battery life. I don’t think the 920 really had 24 hours of battery in GPS mode – I’m guessing it was closer to 15-16 hours, tops. So far the 935 has been promising. I fully charged the battery, and then used the 935 for a long brick (5:45 bike + 0:50 run). The battery was at 65% when I was finished. Extrapolating that information, I’m estimating the battery has about 18 to 19 hours of activity use, and even more if you set the watch up to maximize battery life. The watch should work well for any Ironman-distance athlete, and could even possibly survive a 100-mile ultra run.


The 935 is not easy to track down. Most retailers don’t have them in stock for a same-day purchase or, more importantly, to take a peek before you pull the trigger. And as of the writing of this review, most on-line retailers are out of stock. Your best bet may be to ask your local multisport or cycling shop to special order the watch for you,

2017 Triathlon Business International – Day 2, Lance Armstrong

Basketball… “Flat, Challenging” times in Tri … and Lance Armstrong:
“I went from the stars to the ground, seemingly overnight”

The Monday morning start of Day 2 at TBI began early, with a group workout at the local Dallas YMCA, put on by ACTIVE. Following an old-school basketball lay-up drill, Arch led participants through four, 7-minute “Tabata” sets and had us all sweating and dreading sitting on sore glutes later in the day, but smiling goofy endorphin-induced grins. (Only the first three sets were physical – the fourth set was a mental “Triku” writing exercise… we may – or may not – hear more about those submissions later in the conference.)

By 8:00 a.m. the breakfast crowd was ushered into the presentation hall for a few opening remarks by TBI President Richard AdlerCiting registration data, Adler pointed out 41% of this year’s TBE attendees are race producers, followed by those in the technology field, and manufacturers with 15% each. And then a large “other” category, that includes coaches, tri clubs, city representatives, advertising/marketing entities, sponsors… a good cross-section of the industry.

This year’s conference theme is “profitability and success in triathlon,” and Adler referenced data presented by Gary Roethenbaugh yesterday and reiterating the current “flat” triathlon climate makes for “challenging times.” However. The entire purpose of this conference is to collaborate and share ideas; TBI is, at its core, a “sounding board and connector of resources.”

And then a hush fell over the room as Lance Armstrong was ushered down the center aisle, red carpet style, haloed by a bright spotlight, led by Slowtwitch publisher Dan Empfield. As they walked Empfield referred to Armstrong as his “very good friend,” and Armstrong made reference to Empfield being his “first sponsor” (Empfield was Lance Armstrong’s first bike sponsor, with Quintana Roo, the bike brand Empfield founded).

Empfield opened the session with an air of caution and assertive direction, launching immediately into Armstrong’s The Forward Podcast, and skipping any preamble about the cycling world or doping or other obvious precursors. Admitting he is “very jealous” of Armstrong’s podcasts because “they are so good,” Empfield asked about:

  • Most recent guest (astrophysicist Neil Degrass Tyson – whom Armstrong pointed out is “Stephen Colbert‘s favorite guest”)
  • Toughest interviews (“Seal was very emotional and dark; he and I did the dance and it came off…“)
  • Favorite interview to date (Michael Morton – wrongfully convicted for killing his wife: “He is my favorite by far, so far. He went to prison for 26 years for a crime he didn’t commit. And then DNA evidence proved his innocence and he was exonerated. His views on the people who put him away – what he wanted to do to them – for 15 years he had a plan for every one of them. Shoot & bury. Burn. Drown… And then he found God. . . The guy is amazing. Really cool guy.

As Armstrong mentioned Sean Penn (whom he hangs out with in Aspen), biographer Hunter Thompson, Johnny Depp, Bo Jackson, Brett Favre (a “good friend”), Malcolm Gladwell (If he does a tri, “Who’s going to make the swim cap to go over that ‘fro of his?”) … Empfield points out, “These guys are all friends – you just call them up.” And later in the interview, regarding Armstrong’s residence in Aspen, “there’s a posse, and you’re in it.” Empfield continues, “You can hang with these people and talk with these people in a way a CNN interviewer couldn’t… I mean, a presidential historian and rock stars…”

Armstrong revealed his techniques for landing an interview with someone he finds compelling: “I grab coffee in the morning and read the newspaper. I see who’s in town… send a DM to a mutual acquaintance and get a cell phone number…” He goes on to point out how public most personal information is, saying, “You can find out about anybody’s life – start with Wikipedia, and then go to YouTube… There’s still some secrets out there, but very few.”

He also acknowledges the timing of his Forward podcast, saying, “I couldn’t have done this kind of platform five years ago. . . I went from the stars to the ground seemingly overnight, and all of my platforms went away. That was a humbling experience. The podcast is my first platform, my first offensive move, the first place I’ve gone back to to give people a place to go. . . I’m blown away at the success it’s had.”

When asked about the “corporatization” of sport, making big business out of triathlon or other endurance sports, he was clear, saying whether it’s Ironman or New York Road Runners or the Boston Marathon, “we still have millions willing to pay to play.” But. ASO/Tour de France is “much more evil” than Wanda Sports. “The business model of pro cycling is 100 years old and not sustainable. There is turmoil there. They want to control as much as they can and cast a shadow over all the other events. The Tour is too big – but they are the only one, and the only thing people care about.”

“I wish there were more players and riders who had a bigger voice in pro cycling.”

Armstrong’s latest venture, WEDU Sport, was touched on but not well defined. According to the trademark application, WEDU will incorporate monitoring & tracking (“Computer software and computer application software related to tracking, monitoring, planning, compliance and motivation”), clothing, and “athletic competitions, triathlon events, athletic coaching services.”

When Empfield asked about the new brand, Armstrong provided an explanation for the name, saying, “WEDU is an answer to a question: Who does 100X100’s in the pool or runs Rim2Rim? Who wants to do that? Who would be crazy enough to do that? The answer is WEDU. That is the brand. There is space for more events in the endurance world. Also, monitoring and tracking – GPS, Strava, wearables – allowing athletes to train better, smarter, and injury free.”

Later in the interview he added on the subject of WEDU: “We’ll provide events, content, and training. Similar to Endurance Nation – we’ll sell plans. And WEDU may be an app.”

And what about that subject of doping? Empfield raised the subject, and Armstrong elaborated, saying first, “It will never change.” He said there will always be cheaters Whether traditional doping, or course cutting, or mechanical doping with engines. He did an obstacle course race, and when he missed an obstacle he had to do 180 burpees. “I did all 180 burpees,” he said. “But how many people really do them? It’s the honor system. If they have to do 30 burpees, how many do 30? No one. They do 22.”

What about just letting letting drug testing go – just “chilling” – and letting athletes do what they will do? “Just chilling is not an option,” Armstrong insists. “I don’t have a lot of credibility on this.” (crowd chuckles) “You laugh, but it’s true. Should we test athletes? I’m probably not the guy to ask. But if it’s my kids, I say test them.”

And, on the future of triathlon: “Who knows? Who would have thought there would be the Tough Mudder and events like that? We just don’t know… You never know what the next event is. What will provide relevance and motivation? For Type A motivated people, what are you going to give them in ten years?”

He speaks about the return of his Aspen mountain bike race in 2017 (the 2016 event ended up being “a party at my house” since he missed the permitting deadline), his preference for century rides over Gran Fondo’s, because they are untimed and easier to permit, and “alternative” events in general. He then adds, solemnly, “I want all of the ships to rise.”

Also: Jimmy Buffett & Margaritaville. “When you stay there, he is making money off of you from the minute you wake up until you go to bed. From music to blenders to everything… I really respect what he’s done with his brand.”

Finally: Empfield circles back to the Forward podcast. He notes that listeners are asked to rate the show, one star to five. “There are no 2s, 3s or 4s. Only 1s and 5s. Is this a metaphor for how people view you?” Armstrong responds, “I was an asshole for a very long time. I understand that.”

As Armstrong left the room (for 1.5 hrs of post-appearance interviews in the outer hallway), the TBI sessions continued with discussions covering the Future of Triathlon (“Triathlon has plateaued. But it’s stable. Flat is the new ‘up’.” – Chuck Menke); Sponsorships; Diversity in Triathlon moderated by Sara Gross (“Diversity brings innovation, and that’s what triathlon needs now”); and the USAT State of the Union address by Rob Urbach (which began with, “Do you remember the first time you made love?”). Late afternoon sessions allowed participants to choose between topics including Working with Municipalities, Retailer Relationships, Understanding Millennials, and Triathlon Teams.

The Ron Smith Reception and Awards Celebration filled the evening, with winners announced in multiple categories. Be sure to check out 303Triathlon’s twitter feed for all the details on the day’s presentations and events.