Garmin Connect Review

The Latest Version of Garmin Connect Provides a Range of Free Services

Garmin Connect Screenshot
Garmin Connect Screenshot. Garmin. Image from iTunes.

It's been several years since I last reviewed Garmin's free Connect online training log service, and Garmin has consistently expanded and improved Connect during that time. Recent additions include personal records tracking, goal-setting and goal graphs and the ability to create courses on a map on your computer and upload them to your Garmin sports GPS device.

The heart of the Connect service is the same as it has been since the beginning: a very convenient way to log and map your rides, runs or walks on a map (and share the map with friends if you wish) and to easily keep a very accurate log of your activities for training purposes or just for fun.

Simply complete a workout or race using a device such as the Garmin Edge 810 for cycling, or the Garmin Forerunner 10 for running, and connect your device via USB cable (or in the case of some devices, such as the Edge 810 wirelessly transfer data via a smartphone Bluetooth connection) and upload your data.

With very little effort on your part (I never kept paper training logs because it was too much work), you get a plethora of beautifully displayed, organized and stored data. You are presented with a zoomable, red-route-line map of your ride or run (map or satellite view), and stats including precise distance, time, average speed, calories burned, elevation gain and average temperature. You also get time and speed parameters, including average speed, maximum speed and moving speed.

If you wear a wireless Garmin heart rate monitor during your workout, you are also presented with average and max heart rate stats. An excellent set of graphs show you speed, elevation profile, a heart rate graph if appropriate, and a temperature graph. You can save any route as a "course" to share.

More recent additions to the Connect dashboard are personal record tracking and goal graphing. Your PRs are displayed in bar graphs and for cycling, include fastest 40K, biggest elevation gain ride, and longest ride. Running PRs include 5K, 10K, half-marathon, marathon, and longest run.

The "Analyze" tab in Connect presents a spreadsheet-like interface that lays out all of your stats for whatever date ranges you select. You may also easily sort in ascending or descending order any of the stats. You may also create summary reports that can be exported to a spreadsheet if you wish.

Under the "Plan" tab, the "Calendar" menu option shows your logged and future activities a month at a time, including your goals and goal stats, as well as weekly summary stats.

The "Courses" menu option shows all of your stored courses. Also workouts, goals, and training plans.

The "Explore" tab includes ways to search by person, group, course, activity and training plan. You may also explore the rides and posted stats of the Team Garmin cycling team.

Of special note is the Courses feature, which Garmin has upgraded into a full-blown route planning, route storage and route sharing tool. Courses presents you with a detailed map interface (it draws its data from Bing Maps) including roads and some trails in map or satellite view. To create a course, simply click at the starting point, then continue clicking along the route. The course utility will automatically track the roads while showing you real-time distance as it accumulates. You can even make an off-road course by unchecking "stay on roads". Create courses has been developed into a best-in-class tool, and even better, courses are easily uploaded into your Garmin device for turn-by-turn directions. Courses may also be shared by e-mail or social media. You may also review and upload into your device courses created by others.

Overall, Garmin Connect is a terrific free supplement to your use of Garmin sports GPS devices, and it adds a wealth of information and interesting data management options for casual and serious athletes.