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I was wrong about the Garmin Forerunner 255 – and I'm so glad

Woman wearing Garmin Forerunner 255 watch stretching against a tree
(Image credit: Garmin)

Finally, Garmin has launched the long-awaited Forerunner 955 and 255 sports watches. The company has made some seriously smart upgrades to both, including touchscreens and new tools to support your race training, but it's arguably the 255 that's changed the most.

Before the official launch of the two watches, I was apprehensive about the 255. The Forerunner 200 series have always been mid-range running watches that fill a niche between Garmin's entry-level devices and more feature-rich multi-sports models like the Forerunner 900 and Fenix series. However, last year's entry-level Forerunner 55 was so well-rounded, it was tough to see what else the 255 would be able to bring to the party.

It turns out, I needn't have worried; Garmin has shaken things up and found a different niche for the new watch. Instead of building another device purely for runners, the company has turned the Forerunner 255 into a beginner-friendly triathlon watch – and it makes a lot of sense.

Tri hard

As you become a more confident runner, it's natural that you might start considering cycling and swimming, and perhaps integrating them into your training plan to make your workouts more rounded. From there, it's a short jump to signing up for a sprint triathlon.

The thing is, even without factoring in the additional training and mastering transitions between stages), triathlons have a much higher barrier to entry than running events. You might own a workable bike already, but you'll also need a rack for transporting it, a helmet that complies with race rules, tri shorts, swim goggles, perhaps a wetsuit, a $100 triathlon license if you live in the US, the entry fee for the event itself...

Garmin Forerunner 255

(Image credit: Garmin)

It's a big investment, and dedicated triathlon watches (which allow you to switch between cycle, swim, and run tracking at the press of a button) are usually seriously pricey as well, adding even more to the cost. Until now. 

At $349.99 / £299.99 for the non-music edition, the Forerunner 255 isn't exactly cheap, but it's far more affordable than the likes of the Wahoo Elemnt Rival, Polar Vantage V2, or Garmin's own Forerunner 755.

There was definitely a niche for an entry-level triathlon watch, and it's one that the 255 seems to fill very neatly. It'll even help you build up to your first event with workout suggestions, PacePro to help plan your race strategy, training status reports, and even weather forecasts for the day itself. 

It certainly makes a lot more sense than trying to bolt additional features onto the Forerunner 55 to make a more advanced running watch, and anything that makes sport even slightly more accessible is always welcome in my book.

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).