Today’s fitness trackers and running watches are wonderful tools. They collect all sorts of data about your performance and fitness, and as runners, we love that. Garmin is an industry leader in this market. And while their watches are and wearables are one thing, the Garmin app – Garmin Connect – is another fantastic tool that helps you make sense of all that data and stay connected to your Garmin-wearing friends. If you’re thinking about getting a Garmin watch or if you’ve just bought one, this article is for you. We’ll give you a broad overview of Garmin Connect and what the app does.
I remember being overwhelmed by all the information on the app when I got my first Garmin. A little bit of experience sifting through all the options, though, and it has become a reliable training tool.
So we’ll make it easy on you to learn the ins and outs of the Garmin Connect app. By the end of the article, you’ll be a pro!
What is Garmin Connect?
Garmin Connect is the app available to people who have Garmin devices. There are both desktop and mobile versions.
This article will focus more on the phone app rather than the desktop website interface (oddly, not all features are available on both). But we will discuss what things are only accessible on a computer.
In short, Garmin Connect is the headquarters for all data from your watch and more. From running to cycling to cardio and other sports, if your Garmin tracks it, Connect shows it. You’ll be able to see how many steps you’ve walked, how far you’ve this week/month/year, an estimate of your VO2 max, your training load…. The list goes on. And to boot, you can connect to other users to compare your efforts to theirs.
But before you’re able to take advantage of all of this information, you’ll need to make sure that you pair your device to the mobile app or computer website. This allows Garmin Connect to pull data from your watch.
How Do I Sync My Watch to the Phone App or Computer?
After you’ve paired your device, you’ll be able to sync your watch to the phone or to the computer. Typically, this will occur automatically a designated number of times per day depending on how it’s set up.
You’ll need to make sure that your watch is within 20 feet of your phone or computer in order to sync. If it doesn’t automatically sync, you can do so manually. On my Garmin app, you press the circle with arrows button in the top right corner to sync manually.
What are Some Features of the Garmin Connect App?
There are so many things that you can see in the Garmin Connect app that will help you to become a better runner. Obviously, you’ll want to explore it to discover what information is most useful to you. Here are some basics you should be looking for.
Individual Activity Data
When you open the Garmin Connect app, the first thing you’ll see is My Day. It’s a broad summary of everything you’ve done in the past 24 hours. You’ll see activities, steps, sleep, calories, heart rate history, and more. etc. If you’re a female, there is an option to track your period so that you’re never surprised when it comes around.
The type of Garmin watch you have and how many sensors it has is important. Entry-level watches don’t track all the data Connect is able to present. Assuming your watch tracks it, you can click on any data point on My Day. That field will expand and give you more detailed information.
For example, you’ll see a broad overview of a run on My Day. When you expand it, you can see the map, distance, pace, laps, fastest speed, heart rate, VO2 max, and more.
In terms of fitness tracking, you can also get more in-depth information. Count your steps for the day, or track information about your sleep, such as how much time was spent in deep and light sleep respectively.
The great thing about My Day is that you can reorder any of the metrics, including removing some, by tapping Edit My Day. You can also add information—if you accidentally left your Garmin at home when you went for a run—by tapping + Add Data. Then, input whatever data you want to.
Long-Term Activity Data
In addition to daily data, you can also view weekly, monthly, and even yearly data. You can access this information through the Calendar, which features conveniently colored solid lines when you have met goals.
For example, a solid line means that you completed something, which could be logging sleep (which is a dark pink) or a workout (which is green).
A striped line means that you started toward a goal, but you didn’t quite complete it. If you want to reach 10,000 steps a day, but only got in 8,000, you’ll have a blue striped line.
Another way you can access information is by clicking on News Feed and then Activity. You’ll see a list of all of your recent workouts and runs. If you click on your picture, a page will open that has tabs for Activity, Stats, and About.
You’ll be able to see cumulative miles over weeks, months, and years. The stats section is pretty cool because it will tell you your PRs if you need to know what to beat for your next race. Lifetime totals are also included.
A bar graph shows your monthly mileage totals for the past year. With it, you can see what months have been your best for training. You can use this information to make adjustments to your training plan based on what works for you.
Finally, I love that it allows you to track how many miles you’ve put on various shoes. You know when it might be time to get a new pair of running shoes and you won’t be caught unaware. Actually, any gear can be tracked (cycling tires or bike frames, for example). I also just like seeing exactly how many miles and where I ran in particular pairs of shoes.
You can also customize your watch to help you while you’re running—not just giving you helpful data after a workout—in two different ways.
This feature does vary from watch to watch. Some models allow you to create specific workouts to upload to your watch. Your watch then gives you alerts to follow. Select an activity like running and then input information for warm up, workout, and cool down.
You’re also able to add information like heart rate, pace, distance, time, and cadence. If you’re doing intervals, that is super simple – you just select the Add a Repeat button.
Once you’re done crafting your workout, you can add notes and a title. Send it to your device so that it’s ready for your next workout, and you won’t have to remember what you planned. It’s all right there on your watch.
Maps and Courses
Additionally, you can put together routes, which you are then able to upload to your watch. If you’re planning to do a long run and don’t want to have to remember all your turns or if you’re training to do GPS art, this feature is a life-saver!
This is something that you’re also able to do from the Connect web version, and it might be easier for you to put together a route on a larger screen. You’re able to select options like Follow Roads, Freehand, Loop to Start, Out and Back, and Reverse Direction.
If you have a higher-end Garmin watch, you’ll also be able to download routes from the internet after you download Garmin Basecamp. Then you can load those runs directly to your device.
As we all know, you need a training plan if you’re going to stay consistent with running. If you don’t want to put one together yourself, or if you’d like the information to be uploaded to your watch, try Garmin Connect’s Training Plans.
You access these from the website. Select between predesigned running, cycling, and triathlon plans at various experience levels. You can choose 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon along with ‘Getting Started” and “Improving Your Fitness” options.
If you want them to be more personalized, you can choose a plan based on heart-rate. All of the running plans are 12-16 weeks, and the number of workouts each week can range from 3 to 8.
After you select the training plan that’s right for you, send it to your device and you’ll start getting daily reminders to complete your workouts.
They will also appear on the Calendar portion of the Garmin Connect app on your phone. You are able to edit your training plan if needed to alter or remove the workout scheduled for a particular day.
Many coaches recommend keeping a running journal to see what food works and doesn’t work, what runs were successful and why, what runs were awful and why, and so forth. With the Garmin Connect app, you’ll be able to easily do this.
You can even add notes to your runs and pictures so that you can remember particular runs even better.
Although all the information that you can find on the Garmin Connect app might be a little bit overwhelming to you right now, pretty soon you’ll be glad that you can access all that data!