How To Navigate Using Your Watch…

13 April 2018 - By James Blackshaw

How To Navigate Using Your Watch…

When you go for a run, and then upload the activity to Strava/Garmin, a file is created which plots the X & Y coordinates of of your run, and also the times you were at these coordinates. This is how Strava plots the map of your activity, and knows how fast you were running. The file it creates to do this is called a GPX file. These files can also be made manually using Garmin Connect, Strava, DW Maps, etc, in order that they can be followed later.

Cyclist have been plotting their riding routes with GPX files for years, but for runners it seems to be a relatively new thing, and hence not a lot of people seem to know how to do it. Many races now, such ultra marathons, trail marathons and LDWA Events, do not have route markings, and instead rely on either written trail notes, or they provide a GPX file which can be loaded onto your watch, and allows you to follow a ‘breadcrumb’ trail to keep you on track.

The first prerequisite is that you need a device that supports navigation capabilities. Some watches, such as the Garmin Fenix or the Garmin 735, already have the function built in, where as others, such as the Garmin 230, do not, but can support navigation very successfully by downloading 3rd party app such as DW Maps, through the Garmin Connect IQ store.

Here is a step-by-step guide to get a route onto your watch, if it already has navigation functionality:

***If you want to try this out, but don’t have a GPX file to use, you can always create the GPX file from one of your previous Strava activities. If you look at the map of your activity in Strava, there should be a ‘GPX’ button in the right hand corner. Press this to download the route. ***

  • Download and save the GPX file somewhere on your computer.
  • Log into Garmin Connect using your normal log in details. Garmin Connect
  • Hover over the black menu on the left, and then click on ‘Training’, and then ‘Courses’.
  • A map should appear, along with a function box on the left. In that box, click the ‘Import’ button which is just below the ‘Create a Course’ button.
  • A new window appears, and you can either drag the GPX file into this (by opening the saved location of the GPX file on your PC and dragging it in), or press the ‘Browse’ button to go and find the GPX file.
  • Click ‘Get Started’, and then select the course type (probably ‘Running’ or ‘Trail Running’), and now click ‘Continue’.
  • You should now have a screen that displays your route on a map, and large box on the left that shows the elevation profile and an few other bits.
  • In that box on the left, click the little grey pencil in the top right, and this will allow you to name your route.
  • Click the ‘Save New Course’ button on the bottom of the box.
  • Open the Garmin Connect app on your phone.
  • Press ‘More’ in the bottom right, and then ‘Courses’.
  • You should now see the route you have just created. Press the route, and then press the symbol in the top right. (look like an arrow pointing towards a smart phone)
  • Press the ‘My Day’ button, and then hit the sync symbol.
  • Now go to the main menu on your watch, and go to Navigation, then Courses, and then find the course you’ve just created, hit the start button, and you’re off!

If your device doesn’t have the navigation function built in, then you’ll need to download DW maps from Garmin Connect IQ, and then take a look at this website, which gives a great step-by-step guide on how to create and import a GPX file and get it on your watch.

If you need to any further advice or help, please feel free to contact me through the website or FB.



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