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Garmin Forerunner 265/265S: The Complete Beginners Guide

Just a quick heads up for those that aren’t subscribed on YouTube, that I’ve just hit publish on my incredibly detailed hour-long user guide for the new Garmin Forerunner 265. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll leave no stone…err…menu option unturned as I dive into how everything actually works. As always, this isn’t limited to just the fancy new stuff, but also covering all of the basic watch features too. So whether you’re a first-time Garmin watch user, or upgrading from an older model that lacks the newest features released in the past year – this guide provides all the information you need to know (and a boatload more you probably never knew you needed to know).

Of course, I dive deep into everything from wrist-sizing comparison on the FR265 to FR265S on both myself and my more petite wife. I cover Training Readiness, which the FR255 didn’t have, showing the impact before/after a workout. Beyond that, I go through HRV Status, Race Calendar driven dynamic training plans based on scheduled races, revamped Daily Suggested Workouts, and more. And I dive into the new fancy AMOLED display a bit showing side-by-side MIPS vs AMOLED, including in sunny conditions.

There’s plenty of goodness and tips/tidbits in this video that I don’t cover as deeply in the written review – especially around navigation, music, and contactless payments. And best of all, you can skip right to the video section you’re looking for using the YouTube chapters in the video itself, or the quick-links below:

0:00 The Game Plan
0:46 Sizing, Hardware Overview
4:03 AMOLED Screen in Real-Life
7:40 Watch Face, Daily Activity Tracing, Widgets
12:22 Sleep Tracking
15:00 Morning Report
16:54 HRV Status Deep-Dive
20:07 Training Readiness Deep-Dive
24:09 Training Status (and Load/Recovery)
29:55 Race Calendar, Training Plans, Daily Suggested Workouts
33:44 Sport Modes, Config, LiveTrack
41:50 Native Running Power/Running Dynamics
45:39 Multiband GPS & SatIQ
48:34 Sensors & Pairing
50:29 Navigation, Routing
51:56 Flashlight Feature
53:58 Music Support (Spotify)
57:34 Garmin Pay/Contactless Payments

And don’t forget, if you’re trying to decide between the FR265 and the FR965, I’ve also got a complete beginners guide for that too (albeit, it’s darn-near identical video except the added Stamina, Mapping, and Training Load Ratio sections).

With that – thanks for watching!

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  1. RobertB

    How everything actually works

  2. Ed

    All ready for delivery! Thx..

  3. ThatTallGuy

    Any updates on performance for open water and pool swimming? I saw the open water swimming got cut short for the in-depth review.

    • Here’s the non-shark-involved openwater swim data – perfect GPS tracks compared to the reference on the swim buoy: link to analyze.dcrainmaker.com

      For pool swims, all of my swims and my wife’s swims have been identical to our actual swim distances/etc. In both our cases, we’re almost doing exclusively freestyle, save a few drill sessions in drill mode. No problems there, but then again, I rarely have pool swim issues with Garmin devices these days.

    • Ayhan

      Thank you for sharing the open sea GPS track; that is very, very helpful! Also, kudos to Garmin; both 265 and 965 seem to have nailed it re. tracking in open water. Too bad that a potential alternative to these watches, the Suunto Race fails the open water test miserably. :-(

  4. AtlasShrugged

    The 955 has been so unstable for me with frequent crashes that I’m considering giving up on the Garmin eco system. After 9 months on the market, I’m wondering why Users aren’t in an uproar. Are the 265/965 any better, or will Garmin just ignore folks who buy into the new watch as well?

    • Ryan M.

      Sounds like you might have a faulty device.

      I’ve been using the 955 for 6 months with activities 5 or 6 days a week and have never had a crash. While I have seen some of the bugs that people post about on the Garmin forums, they haven’t impacted the watch during use/the output of the data collected.

    • Yeah, I’d agree. If you’re seeing crashes so frequently that you can remember the crashes, then something is probably up. The last FR955 crash I had was last summer, late July during a hike. It rebooted mid-workout and then recovered gracefully. This was on a beta firmware at the time, and a bug Garmin was aware of then.

      That’s it though, and I’ve had a FR955 with me on virtually every workout since then, as well as worn much of the time as a 24×7 watch. Zero other crashes.

    • AtlasShrugged

      Thanks for the input guys! I’ll reach out to Garmin and see if theres anything they can do to help.

    • Welcome to being a DCR Supporter!

      Also, if you haven’t yet (and since it’ll likely be Garmin’s first step anyways), consider doing a full hard reset of the unit. Your data is all on the cloud, save having to re-download any music and re-send any courses/workouts (which is easy enough, and best to do via Garmin Connect rather than side-load in case it’s actually one of those files causing issues…which oddly, more often than not it can be).

      My guess is it’ll take just as much time to reset the device as get through Garmin’s phone system. :)

    • Ed

      I would delete widgets and maybe do a full reset. I have found sometimes a bad widget will cause this kind of thing.

  5. SF

    Thanks a lot!
    What are actually the remaining use cases for a chest strap? I can only think of the lactate test. Heart rate monitoring is also quite at par with the watches, right? Would be cool to get your opinion on this.

    • Roman

      Yes, in ideal conditions Garmin’s optical HR measurement is quite good (compared to Polar H10). But in cold weather it’s much less accurate. At least this is my experience with Forerunner 955 during runs in temperatures around/under 5° C / 40 °F and quite strong wind.

  6. Yanick

    Great video, thanks. Even if I am not a beginner it’s realle helpfull. This helps comparing my 745 with the 965.

    I have noted some of the difference like the trainning readyness, morning report, suggested workouts upgrade with phase and ajusted to a race, wrist running power and running dynamics and more.

    Do you know where I could find more details about the new or upgraded metrics and how much they can help? I can see that trainning readyness, morning report, upgraded suggested workouts looks helpfull but kind a find it hard to know how much usefull they are comparing to the 745 metrics. .

    thank you

    Does Garmin plan to add running power on the running sugested workout on the 965? or a running power guided test to get your running FTP?

  7. King Bradley

    Thanks for the detailed Video!

    The FR 265 is a nice watch (but strange colours)
    2 things I like:
    – Hot Key
    – Training Readiness
    (- Amoled)

    Hot Key and Training Readiness:
    just software features.
    I hope Garmin will give my FR 255 those features with a Software update!

    Apple also gave have me heart zones with a software update:P

    Did Garmin gave in the past „old“ watches new features?

  8. Ed

    How to turn off key tones for starting activity, stopping, and lap? I just can’t find out how to do it and its driving me crazy! Why does Garmin make simple things like this so difficult?

  9. Tony

    Hi Ray, What’s your comment on battery life? is there ant difference between 965 and 265 and 265 against 935 which I owned previously?

  10. John X

    Does this (and the 965) have “stop and resume later” feature for activities?

    That was the show stopper for me with the Venues on which you can only “pause” the activity for 15 min keeping GPS running.

  11. Troy Rutherford

    Coming from cycling and have started running, I’ve had a vivoactive3 for years and it doesn’t cut it for me anymore, the 265 looks like it has what I want, I do have a question that i don’t believe is answered in your review, has Garmin done anything with use of multiple devices to keep the training load and training readiness features up to date on the watch say so it would show a cycling workout recorded from an edge 520 where the watch was not worn?

  12. Carlos Beltran

    Hi DC!

    Can we expect a new version of the FR 745 or will be the FR 265 the substitute for that mid-range line?


  13. Timby

    I’m trying out an FR265 ; in general, I like it. I found a “bug” (I hope it’s a bug!) that doesn’t occur on the FR745 and the Epix 2.

    The bug is that when the unit locks – either via autolock or with a key combination – ANY key press will then unlock it (I think it requires a 1-second hold, but that’s it). In the FR745 and Epix 2, you can only unlock it again with the lock/unlock key combination.

    I’ve reported this on both the Garmin forum and to Garmin support, who opened a ticket.

    Someone on the Garmin forum says this happens on the FR965 as well.

    If this is intended functionality, that would suck, because that would get rid of any usefulness the feature might provide; any accidental key press will unlock the device; this happened oh-so-many times to me while skiing before I discovered the key-combination lock setting on the FR745 and Epix 2.

    • Timby

      One of the admins on the Garmin forums replied, saying that this behavior is intentional, and then locked the thread.

      So Garmin has decided that when you lock a device (through auto-lock or a lock key combo), it can be unlocked by pressing ANY key. This is an INSANE decision – I can’t tell you how many times my watch has unlocked itself in the past (before they changed this in my older watches to require the lock/unlock key combo to unlock)… skiing or other activities where a button is almost guaranteed to get pressed by clothing, falls, knocking on objects, etc.

      How can Garmin POSSIBLY think this is a “good idea”?

      I’m going to return my FR265 if they think this is the way forward. I can’t imagine their reasoning. :-(

  14. Mark R

    Is there any way on the 265 to display pace zones? On my now ancient 410 I could define a set of pace zones in Garmin Training Center (E.g. 400m, 800m, 5k, Half Marathon) and then as I’m doing a run/interval at a target pace have it display the pace I’m running at with that description rather than actual value. I found that really helpful in judging my pace. I’ve never figured out a way to do it on my 235 – seems like it’s just something that Garmin have removed from newer watches.

  15. LGSF

    I have been rocking a Fenix 3HR for a minute now, ready to upgrade. Looking at a Forerunner based on weight and size. The Fenix is distracting when I wear it, especially at night.

    Trying to justify the extra $ for a 265, seems like a 255 music for $75 less (on sale) may be the way to go. Only feature I think may make it worth the extra dough is the Training Readiness. I do feel like it would keep me from overtraining at times and maybe even motivate me to get out there.

    Considering the above, how useful is Training Readiness?


  16. Ghazaleh

    Does anyone know why HRV Status not showing in the Connect app. I uninstalled and reinstalled the app and still nothing.

  17. armercado

    your comparison chart is not up to date and with wrong info for the 265 and 965 is missing.

  18. yu

    still can´t decide between the 265 and the 965. i don´t use maps but the bezel and the battery + on the 965 is very tempting. although i can save some bucks on the 265 and buy a running shoe.

  19. Ankesh

    How can we turn on auto complete/stop of a workout from a running plan. I used to have Venu 2 and after the run workout it would automatically stop the activity. But I do not see that happening on my FR265. Instead I have to manually stop it.

  20. Patrick Davis

    ]where can I find the manual for the forerunner 265??