I ran into the same distance problem when I first started running with a Garmin. I was using my phone's gps and found it was a little more generous with the mileage (the phone). Double and triple checked and found at that the Garmin was correct.
I've used pretty much all of the features at least once and have found that most often all I want from my Garmin is to see my distance, my time, and my heart rate; so that is what I have on the main screen. I like to calculate my pace in my head, provides a bit of a useful distraction sometimes.
Occasionally I find it useful to see my pace for the current mile, so I have that on the second screen (along with distance for that mile, and heart rate again).
I used to use the pace alarms but have since turned them off. I do have the heart rate monitor alarms on. I have a low and high threshold alarm set. Part of the reason I turned off the pace alarm was because it was a fight between my heart rate and my pace and therefore I was triggering an alarm the entire run.
The best part of the Garmin for me is uploading the data and checking out the stats afterward. I love how it shows splits.
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