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Choosing your Garmin device data fields

When you first get your new fangled Garmin Forerunner or Edge device you’ll probably be using the default data field views that show commonly used metrics like pace and distance.  After all, these are some of the key benefits of a GPS watch – the ability to go anywhere you want and the little device will tell you exactly how far you’ve gone.

But…virtually all the Garmin’s offer a significantly expanded set of data fields that you can customize and tweak until you’re hearts content.  In fact, you can have multiple ‘Data Pages’ (or ‘Data Screens’) that each have different data metrics on them.  From there you can just use the simple up/down/page buttons to alternate through whole data pages easily while out on a run and a ride, allowing you easy access to different sets of information.

Of course, with all these options come choices – and confusion.  So much so that I see or get multiple questions a week on exactly which data fields I use on a day to day basis.  So I’m going to highlight the two devices I use the vast majority of the time, the Garmin 310XT and the Garmin Edge 500 to show off my customized data fields.  I should note that from a functionality standpoint, the Forerunner 305 and 310XT have virtually all the same data fields, except the 310XT has additional power fields for use with a cycling power meter. The Garmin FR60 has almost the same screens for running as well, so that’s also applicable here.  And the Edge 500 and Edge 705 share almost all the same fields as well.  Some of the other models like the 605 and 201/301 have basically the same fields, but since I don’t have those devices, I can’t speak to them specifically.

Thus, even if you have one of the different Forerunner or Edge units, you’ll still be able to utilize this guide, as none of the fields I use on a day to day basis are unique to only the latest units.

The options:

But, before we get into my specific configuration, I figured I’d type out all of the data fields available to you.  Mentally I think I thought this would be a relatively short exercise.  It turns out, it took a while to write them all down.  Also note that I transcribed them exactly as shown on the data configuration screen.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT Data Fields

(Note, it’s funny that on the 310XT there’s Total Ascent, but not Total Descent…which the Edge has)

Garmin Edge 500 Data Fields

And remember, the 310XT and the 305 share almost all the same data fields.  And the Edge 500 and Edge 705 also share almost all the same data fields as well.

So with that out of the way, let’s talk about how I configure it…because…it’s all about me! :)

Garmin 305 & 310XT – On the Run:

For me, the 310XT is primarily my running watch, so I’m going to focus on that here.  I divide it into a few different data screens (you can have up to four on the 310XT), plus the Virtual Partner feature, which I always leave enabled.  I may not use it on any given run, but if I want to, it’s there nice and handy.  You can read up on the Virtual Partner feature in my 310XT review if you’re not familiar with it.

Primary Screen: For me, my main screen includes the only things I really need to look at on any given run.  Since I train by heart rate, that’s a key item for me.  Along with all the other ones that I’d consider critical – lap distance, pace and lap time.  I use lap distance/time instead of total time/distance simply because I tend to do a lot of interval type workouts where I want to know exactly how far/long I’ve gone on that particular set.

Fields displayed recap: Current Pace, Lap Time, Lap Distance, Heart Rate

Garmin 310XT - My primary data fields

The second screen I use has my HR and cadence.  Sometimes I’m doing cadence drills where I’m focusing on maintaining a specific cadence using the foot pod. So for those, this is useful.

Garmin 310XT HR and Cadence

The third screen I use (barely) has the time of day, and then the overall run time and run distance.  This is useful if I need to know how far I’ve gone overall – outside of whatever exact lap item I’m doing.

Garmin 310XT Ancillary Screen

And last but not least, the virtual partner screen.  I can tweak the default target pace on the fly if I’m trying to maintain a different pace.  So that’s handy and motivating to me.

Garmin 310XT Virtual Partner Feature

As for how I configure the bike settings on the 310XT, it’s virtually identical to the Garmin Edge 500 below.  The only exception is that since I don’t have 30s and 3s power averaging, I just use real-time power and lap power instead.  But my key tenants on the bike are with the 310XT: HR, Speed, Cadence, Power.  Distance and time on a secondary screen with lap & instant power.

Garmin Edge 500 & 705 – On the Bike:

The main reason I use the Edge 500/705 over the 310XT for cycling is the extra data fields I can display.  As for why I use the Edge 500 specifically instead of the Edge 705 (even though I have both) is that I really really really love the new mount system on the Edge 500.  This means I can basically swap the 310XT and the Edge 500 back and forth on the same bike in about 20 seconds using the same mount (assuming you’ve got the 310XT quick release kit).  So in a pinch if I forget to charge my battery or something, I can easily just do a quick swap.

Primary Screen: For me, on the Edge 500, I pretty much never have to change the screen on a normal ride.  So I treat my primary screen as my only screen.  This means it has everything I could ever need, plus a bit more I don’t really need.  I have the core items: Speed, Cadence, HR, Distance, Time.  Plus the power specific fields – which are 3s, 30s power display (averaged).  I don’t use real-time instant power because it jumps around far too much for my liking.  By using the 3s average I get a good idea of what I’m putting out, and the 30s average keeps me honest.  Between those two I can pace pretty well with power. And finally I include grade %, because I find that pretty useful in understanding false flats – whether that be slowly rising or slowly descending.

Recap of data fields: Current Lap Time, Speed, Distance, Power 30s, Power 3s, Grade %, Heart Rate, Cadence

IMG_1158

Secondary Screen: The only other screen I sometimes use is one aimed at ‘historical’ information.  Sorta a ‘what are things looking like for this ride’ type of screen.  It includes a fair bit of overall ride and last lap averages to get a good picture of how the ride is going at the macro-view level.  Below you can see an example of that at the end of Sunday’s ride.

Recap of data fields: Avg Speed (Whole Ride), Avg Lap Speed, Total Distance, Lap Power, Avg Power (Whole Ride), Max Power (Whole Ride), Average Cadence (Whole Ride), Average Heart Rate (Whole Ride)

IMG_1168
Third Screen: Ok, I forgot about this screen.  This is one I’ve used just a handful of times on a trainer when I’m just focusing on keeping an exact power level.  This makes it simple with just minimal data fields – Power 3s, HR, Time Cadence.  This is for those sessions where you’re just heads down hurting spinning away, counting down the seconds until the set ends.

Data Field Recap: Power 3s Avg, Heart Rate, Current Lap Time, Cadence

IMG_1164

So, that’s what I use on a day to day basis with my Garmin flotilla.  If you found this particular post useful, you’ll probably find many of my other Garmin ‘How To’ type posts useful, which I stash away all in one nice tidy pile here.  There’s about 50 of these type of posts, either triathlon, technology or running ‘How/What/Why’ type posts.

Hope you’re week is going well, and thanks for reading!

38 Comments

  1. Great post and very helpful! I'm surprisingly almost the exact same on the 310xt. YAY! I had a quick question regarding your cadence drills. Have you blogged on this before? I'm trying to increase my cadence, but I'm struggling. When I run fast, I can get it to low to mid 90s, but that's as high as I can get it. I've noticed from some of your summaries that you can get it close to 110. I'm wondering how. Any tips / references would be really helpful! Thanks so much.

    Reply
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    Reply
  3. Great post. Two questions: On the 310XT, do you use the autoscroll feature or do you cycle manually through the screen during running?
    When you do intervals, do you upload a training program with the intervals as auto-laps, or do you know your program by heart and do you press the lap button after the interval?

    Reply
  4. Another great post Ray. You read my mind on this. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Hey Adam-

    I havne't yet posted anything on run cadence. I'll have to see if I can convince my Coach to do a guest post on it perhaps. In short though, I'm supposed to do short 30-60second higher cadence sets every 10 minutes during my run, using a small clip-on metronome.

    Hey Caspar-

    I just cycle through manually. For some reason, the autoscroll feature drives me crazy from a control standpoint. Perhaps I'm just a control freak. ;)

    I turn off autolap, since i use the laps as a way to control information about each set I'm doing - and sometimes those sets are multiple miles. So for me, I know my program by heart and then can just correlate those chunks after the fact.

    Thanks Mark!

    Reply
  6. Good info post as usual. Interesting to see you don't like the autoscroll?!?

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  7. thanks for the feedback! i also don't like the auto scroll because I'm not looking down at my watch constantly, and when I look down, there are a few things i really want to see. do you ever program your workouts so the watch tells you when to switch gears?

    and it would be great if you could get your coach to do a guest post. I think that information would be so valuable, and there's very little out there on it!

    Reply
  8. Hi Adam-

    I haven't programmed it to switch gears on my bike, but I do program it for HR zones on a race - and when to switch. For example, in a 70.3, I may switch zones a few times. Here's what I do:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    As for not liking autoscroll - it's not that I don't see the benefit of it - I really do. It's just that for me, when I look down, I want it to be on the screen I use most, and not one of the other screens.

    Reply
  9. I'm thinking of getting a Garmin FR60, and using the GPS in my Iphone to upload routes from runkeeper--thereby just superimposing the HR data. Will Garmin let me do this (e.g., KML or GPX files?). It seems my polar 625 will never be supported (hello CL).

    Reply
  10. Hi Chris-

    Yes, you can 'merge' the two together. In fact, my girlfriend does this today with two similiar sources, a Garmin 305 and Computrainer data files. However, you can't do it on Garmin's site, it does require you to use some other piece of software, such as Training Peaks (which does it), or Sport Tracks, which I believe can do it.

    Reply
  11. jwm

    Great post!

    What do you think of pre-loading the course into the Garmin? It has occurred to me, but I haven't yet tried it. I believe one can (in some devices) load up the course @ a goal pace and compare against it. I'll have to dig in a bit more.

    Reply
  12. Hello Rainmaker
    as as usal you blog is excelent.
    i do have a Question which i could not find out,
    I use the 310 XT but I use it as well for my stationary bike (when I am traveling) and on my mountainbike, so i found out that you can configue 3 bikes , which is great but i could not foind a way to configre the datafields different for each bike..
    As i do have the powertap only on my tribike it does not make sense to see it on the mountain or stationary and so on.
    do you know how to configue the datafields for each bike?

    marc
    marc@steingrand.com

    Reply
  13. Andrey

    Hello

    You wrote
    >>> And last but not least, the virtual partner screen. I can tweak the default target pace on the fly if I’m trying to maintain a different pace.

    I have Garmin 305 but cann't find this feature. How do you do this setup?

    Reply
  14. You should be able to hold down the up/down arrows on the right side for a second or two and it'll change.

    Reply
  15. Andrey

    >>> You should be able to hold down the up/down arrows on the right side for a second or two and it'll change.

    If I do this, my 305 VP screen has just changed to another screen (I did this in started Quick workout mode).
    Could you, please, explain more detail how can I do this right?

    Reply
  16. Ken

    Great post. That's a great idea using both the Power 30s and 3s fields to keep you honest and get quick feedback. Hadn't thought of that myself. Now I just need to see if the 800 has both those fields.

    Reply
  17. I think Lap Pace (or whatever it's called) is a much better option than the current (or what I call "instantaneous") Pace. The current Pace display tends to float around a lot because it's calculated based on only the last few location samples, and is highly susceptible to GPS error (Pace is Time/Distance, and when the distance sample is small, GPS error (±10m) becomes significant and the result can be unstable). I realize you can do some smoothing, but it's still too jumpy for me.

    Lap Pace, on the other hand, settles in to a very stable value after the first minute or so of the given lap. If you're 1/2 mile into the current lap, and you've taken 4 minutes, you're going at 8:00/mile, and at that point, GPS error is insignificant in that calculation.

    So for me, I have AutoLap turned on for every mile, and I display Lap Pace. You could make your AutoLaps shorter if you're really concerned about detecting changes in your pace, but I think that's overkill.

    Reply
  18. Tibo2004

    Hi,
    On the 910xt I have pretty much the same fields selected but in a different order.
    - First screen is the "general" one: Total time, total distance and calories
    - Second is "Last lap recap": Last lap time / distance / pace / cadence
    - Third and fourth are "current lap"
    - Lap time / Lap distance / Lape cadence (with only three fields I have Lap time in big)
    - Lap pace / Instant pace / heart rate / Cadence
    (I have the food pod so current pace is pretty accurate I think)
    - Last is virtual partner.

    What I like is that the last two screen (current pace) are close to VR so i navigate easily between them when i run and I can see all the info I need. The first two are less useful (except in interval training where I can quickly see how my last lap was).

    Reply
  19. Kelvin

    I have the same question as Marc if you could give me tha answer i would appreciate it

    Regards

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Hello-

      Unfortunately, there's not a way to configure different data fields for different bikes. Fwiw, they did add this in the Edge 510/810.

      Reply
  20. Emma Wild

    Hi I have just had a Garmin 410 and want to see the partner to a specific pace but can't find how to adjust it and I want it to show completed mileage on the screen whilst I'm running can you help ? Thanks Emma

    Reply
  21. oskars

    Hi,

    just bought forerunner 310xt. At the moment im setting data fields and am wondering why there is no such option as hear rate average last lap. So is there any hint how to get that info from 310xt ?

    This data would be important for me to see if im still ok to speed up or i will crash if i try to put out more speed.

    I can not use power meter because im inline skater.

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Are you on the latest firmware? If so, I suspect that's all they did there unfortunately (don't have a unit charged up handy at the moment).

      Reply
  22. Reli

    Thanks! great info!
    highly appreciated.

    Reply
  23. Reli

    Thanks, great info, I appreciate it!

    Reply
  24. Teresa

    Great information. My question is the best data field for avg pace for the current lap. I have the 305. For example if I'm running 3 x 1 mile repeat at marathon pace (8:30) with 2 min. recoveries. I can use avg. pace for the first mile, but the 2 min. recovery then messes up the 2nd mile. If I use pace, it's all over the page. I'm going to try lap - pace to see if that works.

    So maybe garmin can add "current lap- avg. pace".

    Reply
  25. joubex

    Hello
    Concerning the Garmin forerunner 220, is there a way outdoor to have speed/pace with GPS and cadence with footpod: ie that footpod doesn't override GPS when GPS is on?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      That's the way it works. When outdoor GPS will override pace/distance unless GPS speed = zero (i.e. in a tunnel).

      And cadence will still come from footpod.

      Reply
  26. Brett

    Thanks for all the detail! This was very helpful in setting up my device to show the screens I want. I do want to point out that you said: "Note, it’s funny that on the 310XT there’s Total Ascent, but not Total Descent…which the Edge has". This is no longer true, as my brand new 310XT (Merry Christmas) has a Total Descent.

    Again many thanks.

    Reply
  27. Manuel

    Hello Ray

    Do you still use the same screen layouts on the newer edge 810/1000 ?

    Reply
  28. Greg Hyde

    Hi,
    New to the Garmin 800.
    How do you set the unit up to record splits of say, every 5 miles when you are out riding an 80 mille circular route?
    Thanks
    Greg
    by the way really helpful stuff......

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      You can setup auto-lap to automatically create a lap every 5 miles.

      Reply
    • Greg Hyde replied

      Thanks. I hadn't realised that laps meant splits.
      Different terminology. Set up and done.
      Thanks for the help.

      Reply
  29. Frederic

    Where can I find the formula garmin uses for those data fields?
    Last weekend I added to my display Pwr - IF on garmin500 and realized that it is for the whole activity so no use for me. I tried also Pwr Zone but was wondering about the decimal i.e. is zone 3.7 so am i still in zone 3? I'll figure it out next time I'm on the trainer.
    Next I'll try Pwr % of FTP and would like to know if it's using Pwr instant, 3sec, 10sec, 30sec... per of last lap?

    I typically pace using Pwr-10sec. I'm looking for same short term feedback without doing math. I noticed halfway in a 180km bike ride my ability to do division diminishes...

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      3.7 would still be in zone 3 (7/10ths of the way through Zone 3).

      Power % of FTP is instant power.

      Reply
  30. Frederic

    Is there a way to get Pwr 10sec % FTP ?

    I find that instant Pwr & Pwr 3secs are too jittery. If I use those to pace during multi hours rides, I tend to overshoot up/down.
    I typically use Pwr 10sec as I found i can avoid the overshooting issue.
    It would be interesting to understand the use of respective Pwr value for pacing.
    Example: watching Pwr 3sec is preferable when climbing steep hills ...

    Reply

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