How to set up a Garmin device for Intervals

How to set up a Garmin device for Intervals

Garmin setup for cycling intervals

Whenever I’m training on the bike, and also when I run or hike, I use Garmin devices and my trusty Edge 810 still serves me well. I am considering an upgrade to this one though! 

Anyhow, like most others, I have dedicated pages set up to show different metrics for different types of training.

In this quick post, I’ll show you the fields I have set up for my cycling training, and specifically my interval page. If you’re struggling with knowing what metrics to look at during your hard efforts, this post should help.

Requirements for an interval page

I have a few things I want to know when performing intervals.

The first is what I’m currently doing, both internally and externally. That means I want to see my current heart rate (input of effort) and current power (what that effort is yielding), with power being the most important of the two.

I also want to know for that “lap” or interval, how long I have been riding hard for, so that I can see at a very quick glance the current elapsed time and how much more suffering I have to endure.

Finally, I want some way to pace the interval, and for this I again use power. Power is near-instantaneous, and so the average power for the interval is very accurate. This is in contrast to heart rate, which can take minutes to reach the right level to match the RPE or Rating of Perceived Exertion. To allow me to pace the interval correctly then, I use an average power field on the page.

How it looks

So here’s my interval page setup. 

Garmin setup for cycling interval training

You can see I have current power atop the page, which is the metric I’ll be looking at most. This is set to 1-sec power, as I am quite experienced with training this way. If you’re new to a power meter, you might want to try 3-sec average to smooth things out.

I then have current lap time, which is the second most important metric to me when training this way. With these two metrics alone, I could pace intervals quite well.

However, the average power field sitting third in the stack really helps me to see if I am on track with the numbers I want to hit. If, for example, the average power is 10 watts higher than I want at the half way stage of an effort, I know I can dial it back to bring that number down a little.

This is how I’m able to pace intervals to within 1-2 watts of each other, as you can see here:

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I also include my current heart rate at the bottom of the screen, which I will glance at a few times during the interval. Whilst power is essentially all I need for intervals, I want to check on the heart rate to make sure it’s normal for the effort I’m performing.

If for instance I see that the heart rate is not rising high enough during a VO2Max session to stimulate that system, I’m alerted to the fact I may need more rest and can make adjustments to the workout on the fly.

Having both power and heart rate data vastly improves the quality of both, and by knowing what heart rates correspond to what power numbers (and vice versa) I can make very informed decisions on my ability to train and complete the session I have planned.

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I hope that helps some of you that are looking for ways to improve your pacing and interval training. Let me know if there are other metrics that you use and how they benefit your training!

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