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Garmin Forerunner 965: 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 965. As always, this comprehensive guide thoroughly explores every feature of the Forerunner 965, from beginning to end. Not only do I walk you through the latest additions on the FR965, but I will also cover all of the fundamental watch features. 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 the new Forerunner 965-specific features too, like Training Load Ratio and Wrist-based Running Dynamics. As well as more recent areas like the newish Training Readiness, 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
0:43 Hardware Overview
2:37 AMOLED Screen in Real-Life
7:05 Watch Face, Daily Activity Tracing, Widgets
9:42 Sleep Tracking & Morning Report
14:42 HRV Status Deep-Dive
17:17 Training Readiness Deep-Dive (and Load/recovery)
20:32 Training Load Ratio/Chronic Load
27:24 Race Calendar, Training Plans, Daily Suggested Workouts
31:19 Sport Modes, Configuration, and Usage
38:01 Native Running Power/Running Dynamics
41:27 Stamina Explained
45:01 Multiband GPS & SatIQ
48:47 Sensors & Pairing
49:53 Mapping, Navigation, Routing
55:37 Flashlight Feature
57:12 Music Support (Spotify)
1:00:16 Garmin Pay/Contactless Payments

I’ve got a similar guide coming up shortly for the Forerunner 265 as well, though as you might imagine, many of the features are the same (minus things like Mapping, Training Load Ratio, Stamina, and…well…ok, that’s about it).

With that – thanks for watching!

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  1. Brian

    I have one of these coming (from Garmin directly) so thanks for sharing this.

  2. Brian

    Ray – I didn’t see it in the video and don’t recall it in your user review, but what happens to the screen when you put the watch on a handlebar holder and cycle? Does it automatically go into an always-on mode at that point? Does it dim, etc?

    • Peter^

      This is something I would also find interesting. In the videos it is mentioned it goes off when off the wrist (even with always-on), but is that true during an activity?

    • Brian

      I’m not sure why this hasn’t been answered? Seems like a common use-case for a triathlon watch. Maybe we missed it.

    • I hadn’t answered it yet, as I was waiting on Garmin for some clarification on their best practices for dealing with this.

      Today, the short answer is that if on the handlebar, it’ll dim (depending on bumps/etc…). That said, I think in general we aren’t seeing people doing handlebar mounting of watches as much as we did 5-10 years ago, given the optical HR sensors in the watch and given the increased popularity of bike GPS units. Meaning, the vast majority of triathletes buying a higher-end multisport GPS watch are likely training quite a bit and seem to have dedicated bike computers (even if older ones).

      Don’t get me wrong, I get the appeal of it. But if you go into most transition areas these days, either people have a dedicated bike computer, or they never take their watch off.

      Anyways, point was that I poked Garmin after the question above as to what exactly their best practices are here, in terms of recommendations. And more specifically, if there was some sort of non-obvious setting I didn’t know about to prevent dimming during a workout.

    • Brian

      FYI – This appears to be a major issue with the Epix, not sure why it’s not being addressed or why Ray doesn’t include in his review/video – but lots of people cycle with their Forerunners on the handlebars. Especially a triathlete focused watch like this (or my current 945).

      link to forums.garmin.com

    • What’s notable in that thread though is that there actually haven’t been any more comments in 12 months. It dims, but as noted, it’s still readable (even in sun) when dimed. I did some rides last year with the Epix on my handlebars in the Canary Islands and it was dimmer – but still readable.

      I believe the original Epix launch firmware way-back-when actually shut off the display entirely in some cases, but that was tweaked almost immediately to keep it in a dimmed state.

    • Brian

      Actually there were some comments as recently as 3 months ago, maybe you didn’t click through all the way to the end.

      Anyway, thanks Ray. I use my 945 on my handlebars as my primary driver and don’t really want to buy a separate computer (already have a Lezyne from years ago).

      I’d be glad to take a battery hit so long as I can see the screen.

    • Peter^

      Thanks a lot Ray for confirming the screen doesn’t turn off, I think that should be fine for me, if necessary I can tap the touch screen to light it up I guess.

  3. Thanks for pointing out that 7 day load is not available on watch faces. This would have been a factor in choosing to side-grade to this from my Epix (other being weight). I just don’t get why this isn’t on every watch.

  4. Adding it to my queue – I hope there’s a section on how to actually get one of these on my wrist this quarter. I can’t imagine all of the affiliate dollars that are being lost with this being announced but not available on any partner sites.

  5. Xabbar

    Hi Ray, your argument is not correct to compare sleep quality accuracy vs. heart rate accuracy.
    80% accuracy for sleep stages is extremely useful!

    Imagine e.g. weather prediction for 1 day with 90% accuracy is perfect, for 5 days 60 % accuracy is OK.

    Power data, heart rate data we need at 99,9% accuracy, sleep stages at 80% accuracy.
    Power data, heart rate data at 80% accuracy is extremely bad, sleep stage data at 40% accuracy is extremly bad.
    Lotto number prediction at 0.001 % accuracy is an extremly good value.

    • Except that’s not how sleep stage accuracy works. Sleep stage accuracy only had four options, and it’s binary between them – so a device incorrectly goes from perhaps Deep Sleep to Light Sleep, which are hugely different things in terms of recovery. One can see this in many of Quantified Scientists videos actually, showing how vastly different, different devices are in terms of categorization of the same time period.

      It’s only useful at 80% accuracy if the times themselves were slightly off, but since the labels for them are off, it becomes highly questionable (at best).

    • Peter^

      Sleep stages are not the most useful metric, sleep time is a very useful metric. I would love if Garmin could just focus on getting sleep time/duration nailed, they are still behind the pack here, especially with missing any naps (or anything outside of the per-defined sleep window).
      Even within the pre-defined sleep window, Garmin wearable are not as good at detecting sleep time vs awake time when compared with the apple watch, fitbits, oura, whoop etc. – this is an area where I would love to see improvement, and also from Ray (and other reviewers), I would love to see some testing on it to show the differences and show Garmin that it is an area that needs to be improved.

    • Xabbar

      Is a good comparision Ray, this sleep stages to indirect power measurment on the bike?

      As a watch will never measure brain waves or rapid eye movements. But a calculation of breath rate, heart rate, hrv, temperature and so on by a “scientific algorithm”. Max accuracy could be 90% in the future? So as there are no alternatives.

      As an indirect bike power meter calculates “direct power” from rider weight, bike weight, estimated cw value, wind speed, rolling resistance. Max accuracy currently 80%? There are cheap accurate alternatives: e.g. one side direct crank power. I would say over 90% accuracy

      But running power remains I think for a long time an indirect measurment. With currently undefined accuracy.

    • The problem is that all of those indirect measurements were loosely accurate, and in any scenarios – accurate enough. Because when they were wrong, they were perhaps a few percent high/low, or might have missed out on an edge case.

      But with sleep stages, you only have four buckets. And when you’re wrong, you shift int some other random bucket. So it’s like going from 300w to 80w, you just don’t know what bucket you’ll end up in.

  6. Qwes

    600+ for a plastic Garmin – no thanks!

  7. NPF

    As someone points out, time is money. When is this actually going to be available?? I’ll end up buying a 265 at this rate.

  8. Riccardo

    I guess a summary is out of the question?

  9. Henrik

    I don’t Sleep well when wearing a large and heavy sports watch. Can I use a VivoSmart 5 activity band to capture sleep and recovery data during the night and let Garmin merge the data to something useful? True Up, Physio TrueUp and now Unified Training Staus is very confusing for example Body Battery stills seems to be mostly per device.

    • Brian

      This is my current use-case (VivoSmart 3 with FR 945), and there are some things missing (Body Battery goes missing overnight for example). I suspect that will be the case (and worse) with the additional metrics of the 965.

      I don’t understand why Garmin hasn’t already provided a sleep/night-time product for users like us that don’t want to wear watches (bigger and bigger over time) to sleep. I’d love a ring version, but just a smaller unobtrusive band would be fine so long as I could gather all the metrics.

    • Neil Jones

      @Brain – Doesn’t the VivoSmart meet that requirement? Sure, it’s not just a sleep tracker, but I’m not sure stripping away any additional non-sleep functionality so it just tracked sleep would result in different hardware requirements (and therefore price) or really make much sense, given that the necessary hardware would then be under-utilised.

    • Brian

      It works “pretty well” – as I mentioned above it doesn’t do Body Battery but at least that gets estimated overnight when I’m not wearing my 945. Don’t ask me how it estimates it, I haven’t figured that part out.

      Otherwise, the Vivosmart will track sleep, stress and resting HR. I don’t think I’m currently getting HRV either, even though it has to be using HRV to get the “stress” metric.

      I suspect when I get my 965 there will be several other new metrics (such as Morning Report) that will be wonky or not quite right since I definitely don’t intend to sleep wearing my 965 on my wrist.

    • Ryan M.

      I’m not certain if the Vivosmart 5 is fully compatible with the unified training status yet. Hopefully Ray touches on this when he gets his post on the Unified Training Status. Would love just put on the 955 when I’m going to workout and have an updated Training Readiness from the metrics on a Vivosmart type device.

    • The reason a VS5 isn’t listed as fully compatible with UTS is that it doesn’t do HRV Status.

      So basically, it can’t send all the components over to the FR955/965/whatever. It will send over sleep, and the 955/965/etc will take that in, but it won’t create HRV status from it – so Training Readiness will have a gap there (as well Training Status). Both can actually work without HRV Status, but that’ll result in a loss of one of the checks and balances components.

    • Ryan M.

      Thanks for the info. Sounds like a perfect gap for a new device from Garmin.

    • Ryan M.

      Does body battery sync over using the new TrueUp?

  10. EB

    Any ETA on the 265 complete beginners guide?

  11. Andre

    I have a question about the sleep settings. You show in the video it goes into a super dim mode when wearing it at night, however is there a setting to just have the screen completely off during sleep? It seems like the Epix has this, but it’s not clear to me if this is an option in the 965?

    • I probably should have been more clear – sleep mode actually does shut off the screen entirely. Only when you tap it, will it show the time. Not when you raise your wrist. But it’ll show it in that super dim mode (with fonts that are also more etched than fully filled).

  12. Jun

    Saw the new device bands in the video. In your original 965 post, I wrongly stated they were QuickFit, which I read in the specs sheet. These bands seem just a smidge harder to remove and replace. I hope previous QuickFit bands work (22mm), as I have several 3rd party bands. Maybe 3rd party bands are the reason for the change.

    Thanks as always

  13. Jun

    Just finished a treadmill run in another hotel using my 255. Unfortunately I forgot to pack both my HRM Pro and RD Pod, which both have many many many miles of data to the watch, but it was watch only today and next 3 days. Data straight from the watch was awful, distance seemed to be closer to km rather than miles, but data was logged for miles. Always calibrated after treadmill runs as well. BTW, treadmill is Emergency Ops, but necessary at times on the road.

    My question is, has Ray or anyone that may have received, either 965/265, can give any info on the data straight from the watch being close to accurate on a treadmill?

    • I get reasonably good results actually, but, I do find it’s key that there’s a large ‘variability’ of data logged to the watch in at least OK GPS conditions. Basically, think of the watch as filling up learning buckets of paces. Pretend you’ve lined up a ton of buckets, each representing a given pace (and the watch learning your form for that pace).

      From super fast all-out sprint to walking, and everything in between. During your outdoor GPS runs, you fill up these buckets. So if one were to do this trail running, it’d probably be crap. Whereas do it on straight open farm roads, probably more perfect.

      What I don’t know off-hand is if you have an HRM-Pro and RD Pod, if that short-circuits that learning pattern. I never thought of that. Huh.

      In any case, indoors the RD Pod doesn’t do anything, but obviously an updated HRM-Pro (with firmware since last summer) would do a ton. I generally don’t let it calibrate my watch afterwards, as that’s a linear calibration, which can workout in times where it’s horrible (like yours), but I find it less good for times where it’s only off in one specific pace category.

    • Jun

      “What I don’t know off-hand is if you have an HRM-Pro and RD Pod, if that short-circuits that learning pattern. I never thought of that”

      I thought would be a continuous type learning pattern, always fine tuning the watch based off of outdoor/indoor run data.

    • It’s definitely a continuous learning pattern, but I just don’t know if it concurrently learns both wrist-based and HRM-PRO based patterns, meaning when you then use the HRM-PRO outside but don’t use it inside.

  14. Dom

    So, with the Forerunner 965 out, is there any reason to get a Fenix 7 these days?

    I really can’t see one…
    link to tinyurl.com

  15. Jose

    I have a Garmin 945 – I LOVE it even though I am not a serious sports person…I use it to run, biggest race Ive done is a half marathon….I like the training programs and the data it gives me ona. day to day – steps, oxygen level, training, recovery etc. I also use it on Bike and swim, very very rarely but I like the options.

    So, should I get this one the 965 or should I get another one, if so which one?