There’s something highly reassuring about running with one of the latest Garmin GPS watches on your wrist, whether you’re dropping hard kilometre repeats, finishing up a hill reps session, or just cruising through some base miles after a long day at the office… whatever the session, it’s all right there on the wrist, to view in real time, and to sift through in however much excruciating detail you can stomach.
While all the fancy tech is an amazing training aid, your approach to your running has to be above it. Afterall, what happens when you start to question the information it’s giving you? Did you really just drop a five minute mile? Does your heart rate really go above 200 beats per minute?
Technology falls short sometimes, and your GPS watch is not immune to this. However, in most cases, what can seem like glaring errors in accuracy and catastrophic system failures can be fixed in the settings or easily resolved with a better understanding of how your watch works.
To save you going down a YouTube rabbit hole or trawling through forums to find out how you can learn to trust your Garmin again, I’m going to run through some of the most common issues we see customers encountering, and their easy fixes, as well as best practices to get the most out your running watch.
Pace doesn’t look right during activity
This one all comes down to the settings, and is perhaps most apparent when you run with a friend. It is highly likely you could be running with someone wearing the exact same watch but seeing totally different values for pace in the data fields.
Go into the Run activity profile, hold down the middle button on the left, select Run Settings, Data Screens, and look at the Pace Field. If it’s set to Pace, that’s giving you your current pace, which throws up all kinds of variability in terms of the value you will see at any given moment. If it’s set to Average Pace, this is giving you the average over your whole run, not necessarily what pace you’re running when you look at your watch.
Best practice for pace fields
Everyone’s a little different here, but I’d recommend setting it to Lap Pace to give the most useful feedback. This irons out the variable readouts of opting for just Pace, but will be more reflective of your pace at a given moment than going for Average Pace.
At the risk of being controversial, I’d go a step further and also recommend setting your distance measurement to metric, and your lap distance to one kilometre, as getting that pace measurement over every kilometre will be far better for keeping a consistent pace than if you opted for every mile.
Inaccurate, messy GPS tracks
Assuming you’re not running under excessive tree cover or in shadow from the excessive high-rise sprawl of Mega-City One (those conditions can be challenging unless you’ve got a watch that has multi-band-capability) there’s a good chance you’ve either not used your watch to run with in a while, or you’ve tried to run in a different spot to where you normally do.
When the curved line on the top of your Garmin’s screen goes from varying levels of red and white to green, and gives you that nice satisfying tick, that’s really just saying, “We’ve connected with the bare minimum number of satellites to do the job.”
Now, 99 times out of 100, this will be fine and present excellent results, but on occasion, it can produce scattered, inaccurate GPS tracks that can be frustrating.
Try GPS soaking
As silly as it sounds, one method that I’ve had work for me when I’ve encountered this issue is “GPS soaking” - this is where you go into your activity profile, let your watch go green and give you the tick, but then you leave it another five to 10 minutes so it’s able to link up to even more satellites.
It’s also a good idea when you go on holiday if you let your watch find satellites long before you’re ready to go for a run. This saves you going in cold and having to hang around for ages while you wait for it to lock in with the bare minimum for a green line and a tick.
Check your GPS settings
In your activity profile, hold down the middle button on the left, click on Run Settings, scroll down to GPS and see what options you’ve got selected. If you’ve just got GPS, select GPS+Glonass, or GPS+Galileo - these are all different global navigation satellite systems (GNSSs) and using more than one will make your activity recording more accurate.
Be smart, turn off smart recording
Another way to boost your accuracy is to turn your data recording to Every Second instead of Smart. Smart recording basically records data points when there are changes in speed, heart-rate, and elevation, whereas Every Second quite literally records every second.
Most Garmin watches come set to Smart Recording which is for the most part, perfectly adequate, but if you find you’re getting some GPS inaccuracies this is one setting that could resolve the issue. Hold down the middle button on the left, scroll down to System, and then to Data Recording, and select Every Second.
Watch won’t hold the correct time
If you hold down the middle button of your watch and scroll down to System, Time, then Set Time, it’ll probably be in Auto mode. When your battery dies and is then turned back on, it’ll probably display the time as it was when it turned off.
If you’re not used to GPS wearables or you’re not especially techy, this can sometimes see people get themselves into a frustrating loop of not being able to hold the correct time. If this is a loop you find yourself in, set your watch to Auto, then either scroll down to the Sync with GPS option, or go into an activity profile and let it sync with the satellite, or if you’re inside, let it sync with your Garmin Connect app on your smartphone.
Completed activities not uploading to Garmin Connect
When this occurs for the first time it’s easy to panic and assume there’s some issue with your watch. If Garmin Connect looks normal but it’s just not syncing, it’s worth heading to: connect.garmin.com/status to see if any of Garmin’s systems are offline. If one of their systems is offline, there’s a good chance that your activity will upload as soon as it comes back online.
Quite often when this is the case Garmin Connect’s first page will have an amber warning sign with an exclamation point, either indicating that a server is down for maintenance or that they’re experiencing an outage. If you’re trying to upload the marathon you’ve just run in a big city, outages are likely as potentially thousands of people are trying to upload activities simultaneously and it can slow the whole process down.
Either wait a day or two, or manually upload
Your options are to wait it out and try syncing later that day, or even two days later, or, if you simply can’t wait to dive into the full complement of metrics and analyses, you can choose to manually upload your activity.
Other solutions and the last resort
If your issue isn’t any of the ones listed above, there are a couple of more drastic measures you can take before further research or a visit to the Garmin support centre is necessary.
For any issues concerning syncing with Garmin Connect, you can select the watch icon at the top of the front page of the Garmin Connect app, click on the button with three dots to right of the syncing icon, then hit Remove Device, and also forget your Garmin watch from your phone’s Bluetooth devices. Close down and re-open the Garmin Connect app, and turn your watch off and on again.
Clicking the blue, circular plus icon where the watch icon used to be will talk you through re-pairing your device to Garmin Connect, and can act as a soft reset on some connection issues.
The dreaded factory reset
If nothing else has worked, hold down the middle button on the left, scroll to System, scroll to Reset, then hit Reset Default Settings. This will do exactly that, so any customised data screens, watch faces, customised workouts etc. will be lost. This is the card to play when nothing else has solved your problem.
If this hasn’t resolved the issue
You can look up more specific support options by visiting the Garmin support centre on their website.
It’s also worth remembering that any Garmin watch bought new is protected by a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts for two years from the date of purchase, which will either see it repaired, or replaced with a refurbished unit at Garmin’s discretion, so if you do encounter any manufacturing issues you’re unable to remedy, get in touch with the Run4It shop where you bought your Garmin.