Garmin Connect is the online hub where all the workouts you do on a Garmin device will be uploaded to, in some cases automatically. It is a completely free service which allows you to analyse and explore your training.
There is actually a great how it works and getting started section on the Garmin Connect website but hopefully this review and walkthrough will give you a bit more of an idea of what Garmin Connect is like to use day to day.
The home page is rather fun, it displayed the total miles logged by Connect Users. It is one big number, and is constantly rolling over as you stay on the landing page.
The top right has a small sign in button, which you can press to sign in. If you let Garmin Connect 'remember you' then you should be automatically signed in as you log into the site. The top right then looks like this
You can see your username, and a Settings button appears.
The Upload button is to perform manual uploads (more on this later)
There are three tabs along the top
myConnect * Myconnect has now changed, and the view looks like this now
I will now go over these three in more depth
The Learn tab will disappear as soon as you sign in, it is designed for first time Garmin Connect users.
There is a Features section, which runs through all the things you can do with Garmin Connect.
There is a Getting Started tab, which walks you through the set up process
The first thing to do is create your free account
The process is very quick and only requires a bare minimum of information. Once this is done you will be taken back to the getting started screen, except this time it lets you know that you have successfully created a myGarmin account.
The newt step is to choose your Garmin device, so you know what software you need to be able to upload your activities to Garmin Connect.
Wireless or USB
There are two ways of uploading to Garmin Connect, wirelessly with an ANT+ adaptor or via USB, depending on the device you own.
Once the device (in this case a FR110) in connected to the PC via its USB cable, go to Garmin Connect, make sure you are logged into you account and press 'upload', situated in the top right corner of the page.
Once you have clicked upload, you may be presented with the page above. You will then need to install the Communicator Plugin, it is 14.2MB in size and should download and install quickly.
Once the plugin is installed and the FR110 is connected, you will be presented with this screen.
Choose to either: 'upload all new activities' or select the ones you wish to upload. If you have multiple devices attached you can press Change to select another device.
The following progress bar will display as it uploads the activities onto Garmin Connect. You are then able to analyse your workouts online.
The process is very easy to do.
The wireless process is a ridiculously easy way to upload data, just by walking near to a computer, connected to the internet with Garmin ANT Agent running and an ANT+ USB stick installed, your device will connect and start the upload process. There is a little bit of setting up to go through to begin with but after that it is so easy to upload workouts.
The first thing to make sure of is that you have reset your activity, to do this hold down the reset button for three-seconds. This will let the watch know that it is ok to upload your latest workout to Garmin Connect.
The next step is to download the Garmin ANT Agent™, there is a version for Windows and Mac. I will cover the Mac installation in this walkthrough but it is a very similar process for windows users.
Once you have downloaded and installed the program you will want to open it up.
The program lives in the top bar on your mac
The ANT Agent is the far left symbol. It is a light grey colour because I have not put the USB ANT stick into the computer. Once a USB stick is detected, the symbol blacks out.
Garmin USB Stick
Plugged into computer
Clicking on the icon brings up the ANT Agent menu.
Pressing the View Status option, brings up a screen that lets you know of the status of the ANT Agent. If the agent is updating, you will get a bar on the screen letting you know the progress and how long is left of the upload
Selecting the preferences option, brings up the following screen. The only option you may want to change is the "erase data on my device" option. However I do not see the need for this as your Garmin device will automatically handle data space on the device.
The Wireless Garmin Device needs to pair with the ANT Agent on the computer. The Garmin ANT Agent will automatically turn on the "Pair with new devices" after you install the program. If not, make sure that it looks like this:
On the device, the "Pair with new devices" option needs to be turned on, after this it is a case of waiting for the two devices to 'find' each other.
Once they do the following pop up will appear
Selecting "Yes" and the device will then also ask if you wish to pair your device, selecting yes on that and the Wireless device will start to sync
One important step is to enter your Garmin Connect credentials, so that the upload goes to your account. There is unfortunatly no way of having two accounts, and just logging out of one and into another. So if there are two user using one watch, you will need to be careful how you upload the data, otherwise it will go to the wrong Garmin Connect account.
During the upload process, the ANT Agent Status will look like this.
It is possible to manage paired devices, and delete the devices you no longer use.
Pairing is a fairly easy process, and from now on, to upload your data to Garmin Connect you just have to take the watch within the vicinity of the ANT Stick and it will automatically upload. I have found you need to be fairly close the computer, but the watch does not need to be next to the USB Stick.
There is another way to upload your data to Garmin Connect, via your iPhone. When I get the correct iPhone plug in I will walk through this process.
The Garmin USB ANT stick is rather chunky, and there is another option or two out there.
Suunto and adidas are both using a much smaller ANT stick, and either of them will work with the Garmin ANT Agent.
Having looked at the upload process, it is now time to see how Garmin Connect handles your data.
The navigation bar has recently changed on Garmin Connect, read here to see a quick summary.
The Dashboard is your Garmin Connect personal landing page.
The recent activity section will show the 5 latest workouts you have done.
Garmin have recently added in a PR section. See here for more information.
Selecting any of the workouts will give you a brief summary of the workout, and if you used GPS then a map of your route will be displayed.
There is a quick edit option which, once clicked, allows you to name/rename the activity, change the activity type, set the event type (for example if it was a race you can change the event type to that) and select any course you did.
Clicking on the name of the activity (which will be Untitled by default) will bring up a more detailed look at the activity for further analysis. This is where Garmin Connect really gets interesting.
This is what the workout will look like when first open it up, but there is a lot more detail going on, so I will break it down section by section. Navigate between workouts by pressing the previous or next buttons
The first area to consider is the bar that runs on top
The pencil is the edit button. Use this to rename the activity and add any notes.
Full edit allows you to change everything about the workout, including time of activity, how far and for how long.
The red cross allows for the activity to be deleted. Once this is done, it cannot be retrieved.
The golden padlock allows for the privacy of the workout to be set, unlocked means everyone can see the activity, if it is locked then the workout is private
The workout can be made a favourite, by pressing the star.
Sharing the workout brings up a number of social media outlets, including twitter and Facebook.
Export the workout to send it to other websites, or to play with the data on in excel.
Pressing Compare brings up the activity list (more on this later) and allows for the activity to be compared easily.
Send to Device -- if you have a compatible device, the workout can be sent to it to allow you to follow to course or to race against yourself in Virtual Racer™ (more on this later)
Save as Course -- allows the route to be saved (more on this later)
Print -- print out the workout
The Summary provides details of the workout in a snapshot, the data provided depends on the device used, for example it will include average temperature if you use the Edge 800.
The details section provides some more information on the workout, depending not the ANT+ devices you had attached to the device (I had a Heart Rate monitor and FootPod on the run below.
The details shown are fairly basic, but provide a good overview of the workout. I find the average heart rate levels useful and also to see moving time compared to overall time. Next to the timing section, there is a toggle that means you can change the data from 'Pace' to 'Speed' and vice versa. A run workout will use 'Pace' by default, whilst a cycle workout will use 'Speed'. It is also possible to change the HR to be '% of Max' of 'Zones', however, I find that bpm is the most useful.
If you used laps during the workout, they will naturally be displayed in the laps section. As an overview you will see the time, distance and the average pace of the split. Pressing 'View Splits' will bring up a more detailed view of the split (more of this below)
The additional information section provides a summary on the device used, and its current firmware. Garmin will periodically release firmware updates to improve various aspects on the watch, such as accuracy. Elevation Corrections is an interesting tool, most Garmin devices use elevation data based upon GPS data positioning, some newer watches (910XT) come with a Barometric Altimeter which is a more accurate way of measuring elevation. However GPS elevation data can be inaccurate, so Garmin cross reference the GPS location data with a web service that provides elevation data to give more accurate elevation data for your workouts. This should be 'enabled', unless the device comes with a Barometric Altimeter, in that case it is unnecessary to turn the service on.
Map View is enabled as long as your device has GPS and was turned on during the exercise. A red line shows you the route. It is possible to select either a Google or Bing map, and a Satellite view can be chose over the Map view. Use the '+' and '-' to zoom in and out. To see where the laps were marked, just tick the little box with Laps next to it.
There are a number of chart views, and these will depend on the ANT+ devices attached to the device.
The graphs are just another way of viewing the data. It is often interesting to compare the Heart Rate and elevation data, with the Heart Rate going up as the elevation did!
On the top bar there are three views to toggle through. The details view, is the default one for the workout and displays the information above. Pressing 'Splits' or selecting View Splits from the laps section brings up a more detailed look at the splits themselves.
After an important session, the laps view is where I will spend most of my time analysing what has happened during the various parts of the session.
The areas I find most interesting is the average pace and average HR / max HR. I do find this section slightly frustrating because it is not possible to change the sections around or minimise certain pieces of data (for example best pace) to bring the ones I want to look at closer together. Also, the data does not fit across the page, so to see maximum HR values for example, you need to scroll along to the page. It isn't a huge problem, but it is certainly one area that could be improved upon.
The Player is a funny little tool. I am not sure exactly what benefits it provides but it can be fun to use!
Along the top, it is possible to put two pieces of data, I have selected Heart Rate and Elevation, but you can add in Pace or Cadence if you like. Pressing play will start the Red circle going around the route. Along the bottom the bar charts will speed up or slow down, depending on what was happening at that time. That is the player. There is very little analysis that can be done using it.
The activities tab provides a list of all the workouts,with 20 displayed on one page.
The workouts can be sorted by any of the tabs, for examples selecting time will organise the workouts in order of longest to shortest. The tabs can also be dragged around, so their order from left to right is completely customisable. (this is the kind of thing I wanted to see on the laps page).
It is very easy to search for activities using the top bar. If you name your workouts, then searching for the type of session you did makes that nice and simple.
If the workouts are a bit less organised, bringing down the filters and entering some basic information into them will bring up the activities you are looking for.
Clicking the 'Favourites' button will bring up all the workouts that you elected as a favourite.
Comparing workouts is a very useful tool. On the left hand side of the workouts are little boxes, clicking in them puts a tick in them, then the 'compare activities' button becomes live. It is possible to compare up to 4 activities.
The Summary will display a few bits of information, and it is possible to compare the laps over time, distance and average pace. I would like to see a few other comparison options here, for example Heart Rate would be very useful. I may have run quicker in one session, but was I working that little bit harder?
Under the 5 items of data in the summary is a 'More Detail' button, pressing this brings up, surprisingly, a lot more information:
The Courses tab is the next one along, and this allows you to design a run, and make sure that it is the length that you want it to be. Got a long sunday run to do and want to run somewhere new, but don't want to have run 20 miles and still be 2 from home, then welcome to courses!! These courses can then be sent to a Garmin device (depending on the model) or shared with other users.
It is possible to make a workout that you have already done a course, by pressing 'save as course' on the workout page.
Pressing 'Create Course' opens up a page where you can start plotting your route.
Start by finding where you want the route to start, then just keep plotting points. By default the 'Stay on Roads' box is ticked and I find it very useful, because it means that going around a corner you do not have to keep selecting points.
Once you have created the course, give it a name and save it. It will even estimate how long the course will take if you enter your average speed (or pace!) The graph at the bottom showing elevation can be hidden at any stage by pressing the little down arrow, giving you more map space.
Once the course is saved, then it can be sent to a Garmin device. Pressing 'Send to device' brings up this pop up screen
Select the device you wish the workout to go to, and press 'Send Course'
If all goes well you will be greeted with this screen
What will happen is that the course will be stored by your ANT+ agent, so next time your Garmin device is near a computer running at the ANT agent, it will be synced. Depending on your Forerunner will depend what services are available, in terms of navigation and virtual racing.
Workouts is a fantastic tool that allows for the creation of custom workouts online before then sending them to your Garmin device. It is incredibly easy to use and the sessions can be as complicated as takes your fancy. Garmin have a desktop application that can also handle creating workouts, but it is much easier to do online, and I assume that they are moving people towards using Garmin Connect to create and schedule their workouts.
Any current workouts that you have created live in the left hand side. Pressing new workout brings up the new workout screen
Following the simple steps that Garmin provide makes the process very simple.
Pressing 'Add Step' will put a step into the workout.
First, define what type of step it is
There are 6 options, so select the most appropriate for the workout.
Second, set how long it will last
There are 5 options here:
•Lap Button Press - The most useful for a warm up/cool down, it will last until you press lap on the device
•Time - it will last a certain length of time
•Distance - step will go on for a certain amount of distance
•Calories - step will go on until you burn a certain amount of calories
•Heart Rate - step will go on until you reach a certain HR
Lastly, it is possible to set a 'Target'
When you set a target, the Garmin device will beep at you until you get to your target zone. They are useful if you know which zones you are looking for, but can get rather annoying (for example the first rep of a set it is doubtful that you will hit your heart rate zone instantly!) For a given target there is a lower and upper limit.
There are 5 options here:
•No Target - Use this if you do not want the watch to beep at you
•Heart Rate Zone - Set a heart rate zone, either custom or a preset zone
•Speed - Set a mph speed zone
•Pace - Set a minutes per mile pace zone
•Cadence - Set a cadence zone
Once the step has been defined, more step's can be added, including an 'Add Repeat' part. This will enable a couple of steps to be repeated (for example if you are doing an interval session)
Once the session is created, press save and it can then be sent to a device or added to the calendar, do this to schedule it for a certain day.
Naming issues - one area that people have had problems with is the names of workouts. The simpler the name the better, as sometimes workouts won't send to the device if they are too complicated. The devices especially do no like the '@' symbol!
The Calendar view is my favourite view, as you can see an overview of your workout schedule.
Along the bottom, it is possible to select which pieces of data appear of the screen. It is even possible to view planned workouts in your online diary, so that you can "make the most of your busy schedule". Depending on the workout type, the colour of the workout will change (Yoga is placed under strength training, hence the purple colour.) Another piece of data on there that you won't have seen before is 'Weight', more on this later.
It is rather satisfying to sit down and just look at the calendar view and admire all the hard work you have done.
Changing the month viewed is easy, and is done by making changes along the top row. I often like to change the year and see the types of workouts I was doing one year ago, and seeing the progression I have made.
One item that is missing for me is a way of having the Garmin Connect Calendar syncing to your desktop calendar, such as iCal. I don't think it is a something that Garmin will produce because it feels as if they are moving customers towards their online portal and I can live without it, it would just be nice!
Reports are a way of gathering data of a specified amount of time. The reports can be set up so that you can select a customisable data range, and the type of activity. Below is a report for the last 30 days.
Pressing 'Customize' allows for the data displayed to be edited to your choosing, and there are lots to choose from
Reports are another great way of reviewing your progress and keeping on top of what you have done.
Setting goals is another great way to stay motivated, as long as it is not at the expense of quality workouts. The Goals will be displayed here, and also show up on the dashboard. Some Garmin devices (The 910XT and Forerunner 410) will actually display goals on them. It is possible to see Historical and Future goals by pressing the appropriate tab.
To create a new goal, press "Create a new goal" and the following pop up appears. Give it a name, then decide the activity type the goal is for, what the goal actually is (time, distance, calories), give it a time frame and also a Start Date. It is very easy and a good way to stay motivated.
If you own the appropriate Tanita scales, for example the BC-1000, and Garmin Watch, then it is possible to use the Garmin to record the details from the scales and it will send this data to Garmin Connect.
The Health tab brings an overview on your weight as default, and you can track your weight progress online.
Selecting any data point will bring up a complete view of the data for that given day, and there are a lot of pieces of data available. There is also a Legend that can be viewed to get more of an understanding on what the data means.
As an athlete, it is very important and useful to track your weight. If you are doing a long run, you may wish to weigh yourself before and afterwards to see how much water you have lost. Making sure that you do not loose too much weight is important, because being underweight can have serious affects on performance. Using the Tanita and Garmin products to track weight is easy and it all gets stored online for easy analysis.
That covers all the tabs on your personal data in Garmin Connect. There is another area to look at, the tab Explore.
Pressing the Explore tab along on the top brings up the opportunity to dive into other users runs, even Team Garmin!
By default, the view will go to you home area and show the 7 latest activities on the left hand side that other users have done. Their start locations are dotted across the map. Navigate through the workouts by pressing the page buttons below. To find an activity, there is a search function, and it is possible to set the location for the search also. Bring up the filters to get a more detailed search, for example the type of workout, how far it is.
This is a great function to find both runs in a new area, for example if you are going on holiday, but also for training run ideas for your local area.
Pressing the 'Courses' tab brings up a set of courses that people have marked out on Garmin Connect. Very similar to the above but this time it is for pre plotted routes. Save them to your page and send them to the Garmin device for a guided run.
The other tab along the top is 'Team Garmin' and this is where Garmin put all their team data onto Garmin Connect, so you can basically do the same workouts as the professionals. Garmin upload both training rides and races for various riders. So far, the only data uploaded that I can find is from Team Garmin-Barracuda, the Garmin cycling team. Find a workout, and open it up, send it to your device and you are doing the same ride as the riders! Pretty cool.Hopefully in the future this will be expanded to include runners and swimmers also.
The last area to look at is 'Settings', which lives in the top right had side of your Garmin Connect Page. There aren't many details to change here, and any changes that you make can be sent to your Garmin device by pressing the button that appears underneath the 'Device Settings' Tab.
There are 6 tabs to go through. Personal information is contained below, and it is just some of your vital statistics.
Display Preferences -- Use to change how dates and data is displayed.
Training Zones -- This is displayed below, and can also be sent to your device. Use this if you know you various HR levels and also training zones. Training with Heart Rate is a very effective tool, but has to be done right. Check out our article for more information.
Default Privacy -- Change the privacy settings of your Garmin Connect workouts, if you do not want anyone seeing your workouts then crank up the privacy settings
Account Information -- Account information displays your email address, change the password and shows your Garmin Connect login name
Device Settings -- This is only for 310XT users, it is possible to send a new language to the device.
That is Garmin Connect, the online hub for all Garmin users! It is a pretty good system. Here are a few of my highlights:
The few days before a big race, whether that be a local 5k or a marathon, you will be nervous. One of the best ways to calm those nerves is to look over your training, and see the evidence of all the good running you have been doing. This has a particularly calming influence on me, to see what sort of quality training I have done and I know how good the training has been. One other advantage of seeing all this evidence is that it really keeps you motivated, especially if you set little goals during the year (but be careful, don't go chasing miles and running a load of junk, better to set small realistic targets and active them than going to 50miles a week and running for 4 hours on the sunday to get there.)
As it handles both your workouts and health data, it is a very useful place where all of your workouts live. You can create them online, schedule routes and then view the results afterwards, it is a great resource.
For some users, depending not the Garmin device, the uploading is wireless and this is fantastic, because it makes the whole process very easy, and I like easy.
Things it needs
Garmin Connect isn't perfect, there are a couple of changes that I would like to see:
Coach overview mode
There should be an coach option, where you can give permission to your coach to look at your calendar, and to see your workouts. Currently I have just given my coach access to my account, but it would be better if he was able to log into one account, and see all of his runners.
Yoga/Pilates -- currently there is no Yoga or Pilates workout type, currently I change the workout type to Strength Training online but having its own workout type would be more preferable.
It would be nice to be able to view the data on the iPhone or iPad without going online to Garmin Connect. There is a Garmin Fit App but it only shows a few recent workouts, and no a complete list.
Having a way of easily inputting your food would just make the service even more complete.
Overall I think it is a great system, it is one of my most visited sites on the web. I think the social aspect of the site is great, but not too much is made of it, it is subtle and I prefer that, rather than it being shoved in your face. it is easy to navigate and looks good. If you aren't sure which GPS running device to get, perhaps Garmin Connect will sway you towards using a Garmin.