Ever heard the lame joke about the clueless forestry employee who had to cut down one tree per day with a chainsaw, but for some reason couldn’t ever get it right? Eventually, when he was fired from his job, a maintenance dude started up the chainsaw to check if it still worked, and the guy, looking on stunned, exclaimed: “Do that again?!” Believe me, many athletes are as much in the dark about the wonderful functions on their Garmin sportswatches and only use their abilities to a limited degree. This is a shame, as these sophisticated tools are designed specifically to meet very elaborate training needs and, by not using their functionality to the max, you’re losing out in a big way.

That said, here are five practical Garmin sportswatch configuration tips that stem from questions and issues I’ve picked up while training with other athletes. Implement the ones that work for you and your training sessions will become much less hassle.

1. The rest-screen on the pool swim app
One very much overlooked function is the superb rest-screen featured on the swim app. The thing is, you can’t train as disciplined as you should without it. I’ve come across many athletes that simply use the STOP button to pause for a rest between sets. For instance, say they want to do 6 sets of 250 m, with 30 seconds rest in between, they press the stop button to pause the watch – ending in erroneous lap counts and no perfectly timed rest periods! Well, Garmin replicated the big swim clock that you’ll find up against the wall at any training pool, and made it even better. The lap button is the pause button when in the pool swim activity, and by default you’ll see the Rest Screen when you press it.

The Rest Screen is a thing of beauty. For starters it counts your rest time, but since it allows for four data fields which you can customize, you can also check other stats during your rest time. A good selection would be interval pace (pace p/100m), interval time and interval distance. And, if you use a swim heart rate strap, you can even check interval HR/average, HR/max HR, as well as other info that give insight into your training. The Rest Screen also presents itself in inverted colours, meaning the background becomes black and the digits white, so you won’t have any confusion whether you’re on it or not.

2. The drill log
Just the other day someone posted how drills mess up his distance and pace during swim training. The drills screen has been around for years, and addresses that very issue. Whenever you switch to drills during a swim session, press the lap button to pause the watch and cursor down to the drill screen. Your watch now turns into nothing more than a timer with a manual lap-count ability. You can do your kicks, one-arm, catch-up or any other drill to your heart’s content, without it having any bearing on your swim pace or distance.

When you’ve finished your drill laps, press the lap button again. In its paused state the watch will ask you how many meters you’ve drilled. You’ll get distance options from which you select the correct one and press enter. At the end of your swim session, your pace will be reflected only in terms of the swimming lengths you did. The pace of your drills will also be excluded from your overall swim pace, but added in terms of overall distance. So you can relax, knowing your pace bragging rights will be intact!

3. The temperature widget
Very often, after a cold sea swim for instance, the first question people ask is what the water temperature was, and it inevitably ends up being a guessing game. This is because the minimum, maximum and average temperatures during the activity only get displayed once they have been uploaded on your Garmin Connect account. And temperature doesn’t show in the details of the activity on the watch itself.

This is where the temperature widget comes in handy. Once you’ve saved the activity, go to the temperature widget and the lowest and highest temperature will be visible as a graph on the screen, with a numerical value for the lowest and highest temperature.

4. Short-cut keys
Some athletes navigate down the entire menu to get to some or other setting they change regularly – at best it’s a cumbersome process. Garmin made life easy here, too. The start button and lap button act as short-cut keys on every watch from the Fenix 3 upwards, Garmin calls them Hot Keys. Assign the settings function you use most, or need to enable/disable in a split second, to a short-cut button. They all work in a “press-and-hold” manner.

Personally, I can’t be without the “lock watch” short-cut for triathlon racing. When the swim gun goes, I press the start button, and follow it up with a press-and-hold of the same button. One second, my watch is locked and accidental button presses during the swim are eliminated. My other favourite is the “flashlight” option. If you hold-and-press, your watch switches to a white screen that stays lit. It’s superb for finding stuff when you’re stuck in the dark. If you want to enable/disable Bluetooth regularly to save battery power, assign that function. Hot Keys can be assigned to save location, timer, stopwatch (also handy), phone, dual grid, MOB (man overboard), Auto lock/unlock, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more.

5. Extended Power Timeout
Have you ever waited on the start line for the gun to go, just to see that your watch has reverted back to its normal watch face? That’s because each activity is set by default to revert to normal watch face mode after 5 minutes to save power. To eliminate the chance of getting caught by the start gun with your watch having exited the app, go to the app settings and enable the Extended Power Timeout. Now your watch will only revert to the watch face after 25 minutes. This makes it the perfect setting for the wave start format for Ironmans, or any other waiting game come race day.

And there you have it – some tips and tricks you might or might not know. In a next article we’ll look at some others. If you have any watch configuration tips that make your life easy, please let us know. We would love to include them in a future article – and make sure you get the credit for it, naturally. Happy training! – (c) 2017 NavWorld

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