A look at Garmin Auto Lap by position for track and circuit loop use

Many of you probably use the most common version of auto lap today for your runs and rides, with it automatically marking laps based on a predefined distance such as every mile or kilometer.  But if you’re doing a course/route where you repeat the same point over and over again, there may actually a better option.  See Garmin devices can not only can create laps automatically by distance – but also by position.

What does by position mean? Well, in short it allows you to set a given location as the defined ‘lap’ point such that anytime you pass that point it’ll trigger a lap marking.  It’s just like normal Auto Lap where the unit does it without human intervention, you’ll never touch a button.

So how do you use it? The menu’s will vary slightly based on which Garmin you have, but the general process involves you specifying that you want Auto Lap enabled (in Settings), and that you then want to Auto Lap by position (in Auto Lap settings).

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing some cycling at a nearby park that has a 1.25 mile loop.  If I were to configure a standard Auto Lap using distance, it might not trigger a lap at exactly the same point (or tree in my case) each time.  That’s because depending on variations with my line each lap I might be at +/- .02-.03 miles.  But with auto lap by position, that’s all ignored as once I hit that tree – it sets a lap. Well, not hit the tree per se, but rather the point near the tree.

To put this in perspective, you can see below in the photo where I’ve stopped on the road to configure the auto lap position.  This is the point that when I pass I want a lap created.

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Then each time I pass this point from here on forward it’ll automatically create a lap. You can see this below on the Edge 800 (left) where as I passed this point on the map it triggered a lap.  On the Edge 200 to the right (slightly harder to see because of my photography while riding), you can see the dark text along the bottom, indicating a lap was triggered. Both are within 1-second of each other for the lap time.

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But, this is much easier to understand in a short video.  So I took a few clips during my 20+ laps that I did last Wednesday to show you want it looks like as you approach the lap point and then continue on.  It’s cool to see both Edge units fire at the exact same second.  Here ya go!

Garmin Auto Lap by Position: Edge 200 and Edge 800

Neat stuff, huh?

So what’s the best use for this? Well, typically routes that aren’t an exact distance (such as 1.28 miles) – or loops you repeat often.  For me that’d be a cycling route like the one above where I’m doing a ton (or a crapton) of repeats and want to be able to compare each lap on the varied terrain course.  And in the case of cycling, it’s even more ideal in that you don’t have to manually hit the button each time. Which is perfect if your racing in a crit and may not want to remove your hands from the handlebar at that exact moment.

It can also be used on a running track as well, though the use there would mean that you’d be marking laps every 400 meters – whether you wanted to or not.  For me, I have enough variation on the track within my workouts that I don’t use it there because it would be illogically breaking up my longer sets into 400m chunks that I don’t always want.

Auto Lap by position can be configured on virtually all of the Garmin cycling and running units. Even the trusty old FR305 – check it out:

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Just as well as the new FR610:

IMG_3030

Of course the general goal here is to be able to view lap information afterwards online in a training log or program.  In the case of my cycling route, you can easily see how Garmin Connect provides information for each and every lap, under the ‘Splits’ view.  And virtually every other 3rd party training program will do the same.

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And of course the route map is still displayed as normal:

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So go forth and Auto Lap your way via position through your next mindlessly repeating looped course.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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30 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Clearly you are a professional. I live close to Fort Hunt Park but after about five laps my mind numbs over and I get the desire to crash into a runner on the Mount Vernon Trail.

    Reply
  2. I really like this feature. On the Edge 705 (and I’m sure the others), you can also set multiple auto lap points.

    There’s a hill near where I live that has two routes to the top, both ending at the same point. I set the first lap point at the bottom on one side, the second at the top and the the third at the bottom on the other side. It then auto laps whenever I pass the starts on either side and again when I get to the top.

    Reply
  3. Does anybody know what is the tolerance? I mean – how far can you miss the marked point and still have a lap. I tried opposite side of the road (running) and it did the lap. Just curious.

    Reply
  4. great tip!! this is something I will try out.
    Great for upcoming track workouts plus
    I have an 10 mile loop I cycle and I ususally just hit lap but this will be much easier and more accuate to boot!

    Reply
  5. Will have to try this out (but skeptical).

    When I look at the map of my 200m track workout – its clearly messy sometimes.

    But it sounds like good possibilities – ie courses, races, pre-determined laps

    Reply
  6. drussell

    Thanks for bringing this up Ray! I’ll second Advid’s question about the tolerance. I’ve tried using a course on my G500, and was within what I thought was a reasonable range of a point (let’s say a turnaround), only to find that the unit doesn’t just jump to the next point if it figures out you’re on the way home. The entire second half of the ride was spent with it telling me i was getting further and further and further off course. Thoughts? Cheers!

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Any way to configure this via firmware update to automatically lap AND switch modes at a predetermined point? Say, for example, my bike rack in transition?

    Reply
  8. Great post, as always.

    I am guessing from the first comment that the park you are talking about is Fort Hunt Park. Is that right? If not, which park is it?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  9. I use that all the time for my Tuesday night criterium workouts. Works great!

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

    Reply
  11. Yet another excellent post, thanks.

    Reply
  12. Been doing this on http://www.strava.com for awhile now. If the lap or climb isn’t already created, you can create the segment and compare every time you have ever done the segment or lap. You also compete against everybody who has done that segment (KOM or QOM). You can also mark the ride “private”. It really is an awesome site and they have recently added filters like age, weight and gender. They also have Iphone and Android apps which are good for the shorter rides and upload automatically to your profile.

    Reply
  13. Any chance that Garmin will be including an Auto Lap by time feature in future firmware updates? For example, a lap every 30 minutes during a long bike ride?

    Reply
  14. I would like to know if it’s possible to set multiples mark on a trip. I didn’t turn around a tree, but ride from home to work. I would like to put multiples marks at specifics points.
    Yesterday evening I’tried to mark, but this morning nothing appears.
    I think I’ll stay with lap by distance (5km).
    Maybe the position lap is specific for a trip where you turn around something.

    Reply
  15. Great reviews and I love your site. Does the FR210 have the auto lap by position capability? NOTE – I’m just too lazy to look in the manual.

    Reply
  16. Great idea for getting comments. THanks for posting. I think we have about 3 weeks left of nice weather, so its still summer for me

    Reply
  17. @2100: yes it will support multiple lap points.

    I use this feature a lot while skiing. I will set a lap point just at the bottom and top of each list which allows me to isolate my uphill laps and downhill laps.

    Of course this means that you need to be diligent at remembering to set your initial lap points the first time you ride each lift.

    @ray: a feedback point for Garmin. It would be really nice to be able to pre-set e lap points in a Course. This would basically allow something akin to creating geofences in your course files.

    Reply
  18. Great review! A friend of mine turned me onto your site just yesterday and I am jealous of all the things you’ve accomplished. You are a great motivator for the rest of us. I’ll be visiting your site often for motivation and tips.

    Reply
  19. Auto lap is VERY useful. Even last week I was on a criterium race in a auto racing race track and the pace was furious, so no time to look at watch and press buttons.

    Reply
  20. This also might be good for swimming in a pool (except for the water-resistance issue of certain models).

    Reply
  21. This is great information, thank you. I am trying to figure out how to “pre-program” some autolap triggers when plotting a Course. I.E. I’d like to trigger a new lap at the bottom and top of significant hills on a ride I am planning, so a new lap will automatically start when I get to that point on the ride. Is this possible?

    Reply
  22. Relict

    Hi I’m also interested in a lap within a practice; uphill repeated fro 10 times in the middle of a cource. thanks.

    Reply
  23. Alon Lehrer

    Any way to delete auto lap points? I want to change the position in the lap it resets (and not have two points triggering laps)
    Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Asís

    Very useful. Do you think it will work well of a olympic track (400m)? I ask you this because I train once a week on such track, and when I run let’s say series of 1000m, the autolap by distance is set to 1 km, but it always beeps around 20m before the finish line. That means that I have to press lap when I cross the finish line, and then at home add the time the first lap (suppossed to be 1000m) plus the time of the next one (around 20 meters). I have the feeling that for some reason the precision is bad when running in a track. (My device is a Forerunner 305).
    Another question about autolap. Yesterday I ran a 10km race and the previous day I had disabled the autolap feature, so I have no split times by km they way I like. Do you know if there is some software to edit the race and add 1km marks with all its split times, pace, gained and lost altitude, etc?

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Technically, it’ll work, but the results might vary slightly. Meaning, it might be 410m or 385m depending on the GPS at that point.

      For editing afterwards to add in splits, I like Sport Tracks for that – really easy to do.

      Reply
    • Asís replied

      Thanks for the quick reply! I will try tomorrow the autolap by position and if there is any relevant finding I’ll post again.

      About sportracks, you are right I have been able to import the tcx into it, define splits every km, but I cannot upload it to garmin connect. I exported it from sporttracks 3 to .gpx and imported it in garmin connect, but there is no lap information. Do you have a clue on this?

      Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      Yeah, getting it to Garmin Connect is trickier. I believe there’s a plug-in for that, but I’m not 100% certain.

      Reply
    • Aaron replied

      @Asis GPX will not have any lap info.

      You’ll want to install this FREE plugin to export as a TCX, which will contain all your lap data:

      link to zonefivesoftware.com

      Reply
    • Asís replied

      @Aaron: I tried with that plugin, but when uploading the tcx file to garmin connect, the lap data that I can see on sporttracks are not there…it seems as if they remain within the local sporttracks database, and not in track itself
      @Rainmaker: 1: Autolap by position accuracy is quite good. I tested it while running on the grass lane just outside the track, and laps bipped nearly at the exact same spot every time, let’s +- 2 or 3 meters. The only thing is that when I started to run series on lane 1, I tapped lap to set a new position, but it no longer worked: Maybe because it kept on looking for the initial position on the grass lane (The autolap option chosen was “lap press only”) ? Maybe I should have reset the FR305.
      2: The garmin plugin does import but not export…I wont bother anymore with this.

      Thank you both guys!! It was very helpful and interesting.

      Reply
  25. Marco

    I have been looking for this autolap function in the FR620 but unfortunately it’s not in there yet. I used this before in my FR410 and I do miss it, does anybody know if this feature will be added in any future update of the FR620?

    Reply

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