When they first hit the market almost two decades ago, Garmin devices for tracking endurance activities were almost exclusively used by the most serious, data-driven athletes. Since then the devices have gotten smaller, smarter and cheaper, with options for ultrarunners to first-time triathletes.
Whether you were one of those early technology adopters or you just got your first Garmin this past Christmas to help you on your way to your first 5K—there is a lot that your device can do when combined with TrainingPeaks beyond just tracking workout time.
With just a little bit of setup effort, you can make it even easier to plan, execute and analyze (or have your coach analyze) your training so you can spend more time recovering and less time managing your technology and data.
Set up your device
Even before you record your first workout there are a few settings you’ll want to make sure are correct in order to get the most useful and accurate data during training and for you and your coach to analyze post-workout in TrainingPeaks.
Turn off smart-recording
This is a feature left over from the early days of Garmin devices when running out of memory on your device in a single workout was a real concern. This type of recording also makes some of charts and reports in TrainingPeaks less accurate or useful, so turn this setting off and don’t miss a single second of hard-earned data.
Include zeros in average power
If you are training with a powermeter, most Garmin devices give you the option to not include coasting in the average power calculation for the current lap or entire workout.
Higher power numbers can be motivating, but that feeling may be short-lived once you see the lower (but accurate) numbers in TrainingPeaks. Seeing inaccurate values while you are training may also make it harder to hit the target power numbers that your coach is giving you.
Turn on the Garmin Connect Autosync
When you finish a hard workout the first thing you probably want to find is food, not your USB cable. Fortunately, all modern Garmin devices can automatically and wirelessly upload completed workouts to TrainingPeaks through the Garmin Connect Mobile app.
After completing a one-time authorization in your TrainingPeaks account here, the next time you complete a workout and are within range of your phone (make sure your Bluetooth is on) for a few moments your workout will automatically upload to Garmin Connect and then be instantly synced to TrainingPeaks.
You can even enable notifications on the TrainingPeaks mobile app so you can get confirmation that your workout was uploaded successfully. But don’t forget to leave a comment on your workout! Coaches may like timely workout uploads, but they love comments. (And don’t throw away the USB cable yet, you still need to charge your device).
Get your planned workouts on your device using the Daily Workout Connect IQ app
If you’ve done structured training in the past you’ve probably written down workout instructions on the back or your hand or a notecard or spent time pulling your phone out of your pocket during recovery intervals to figure out the next step.
With TrainingPeaks structured workouts and the Daily Workout IQ app on your Garmin, you can focus entirely on hitting your workout targets instead of trying to remember what they are.
The Daily Workout IQ app works like the Connect Autosync but in reverse. It takes your planned workout for the day on your TrainingPeaks calendar, then sends it to your device using the Garmin Connect mobile app. To start using the Daily Workout IQ app:
Install the Daily Workout App.
You’ll find this in the Connect IQ app store on your device if it didn’t come pre-installed.
Authorize the app.
Just like with Garmin Autosync, you will have to give permission one time for the Daily Workout app to read your TrainingPeaks calendar. The first time you open the Daily Workout IQ app on your Garmin you will get a notification on your phone. Tap that notification and follow the instructions to complete the setup.
Plan a structured workout.
The next time you open the Daily Workout IQ app on your Garmin it will pull in your workout for that day and save it to your device. The process does require your phone and an internet connection, but your workout will be saved to your device until you remove it, so you can download your planned workout during breakfast and it will ready for you to start later that day.
When you start a structured workout on a Garmin, it will open the default structured workout page with indicators for your intensity targets, time remaining for the current interval, and information about the next step.
You can use this screen or create your own custom structured workout page with the information that you prefer to see during workouts.
Use your Garmin and smart trainer to execute the perfect indoor workout
A bonus feature of the Garmin and TrainingPeaks structured workout integration is that when combined with a current generation smart trainer, it can help you perform your workout perfectly when you are stuck indoors due to weather, daylight, or you just want to nail your important workout without worrying about other factors that you may encounter outside.
After following the instructions in the previous section to download your daily planned workout, you can then pair your Garmin with your trainer as a smart trainer or FE-C (Fitness Equipment-Control) device.
When you start your workout your Garmin will communicate with your trainer and it will automatically set the resistance at the correct power target as planned in your workout, no need to shift or keep close track of the interval timer—all you have to do is maintain a good cadence.
Learning a new technology and all of its features can be intimidating, but it can help you get the most out of your training time and effort. Hopefully, the above tips help you and your coach use your Garmin to its fullest potential so that you can focus on your training and your recovery—and not on managing all of your devices.