Workout description

An individual workout is designed to apply a particular training stress which is defined by the interaction between workout duration and workout intensity.

  • DURATION – how long – time or distance
  • INTENSITY – how hard – power, HR, pace, RPE

In order to achieve the desired training stress workouts are broken down into intervals with work intervals and recovery intervals.  Depending on the type of stress to be applied determines: the ratio between the work and recovery intervals; and the number of times the intervals need to be repeated (repetitions).

e.g a simple workout

  • 1 x 2hrs at heart rate zone 2 (no recovery interval)
  • 10 x 400m at 4:00/km (+1min jog/walk recovery)

Each workout needs to be specific to the sport for which you are training and the race you are training for to ensure the training stress is applied to the appropriate muscles.  To ensure that the specific pattern of joint and muscle coordination is achieved workouts include additional instructions on how to achieve the prescribed training stress.

e.g. detailed workouts

  • Run: 10 x 5min hill reps (4-6% slope) @ RPE 13 (+jog downhill recovery)
  • Bike: 4 x10min @ HR-Z3 – cadence 90-95rpm (+5min easy spin recovery)
  • Bike: 1 x 2hrs at HR-Z2 in TT position (no recovery interval)

Workouts can therefore be quite complicated with many different elements that need to be simultaneously managed, which in some cases can be difficult.  As such all workouts have a primary focus (this should be clear from the type of workout and/or the way in which the workout is written) and this should be managed above all else.

  • 1 x 2hrs at HR-Z2 in TT position cadence 90-95rpm (no recovery interval) – maintaining intensity of HR-Z2 for 2hrs is priority – maintaining TT position and/or cadence target must not compromise the primary aim of maintaining HR-Z2.

Workout Analysis

The first thing when reviewing a workout is to determine whether the specific workout has been completed as described.  Has the primary focus been achieved?  Have the secondary foci been achieved?  Once this has been established deeper analysis of the workout can take place.

The two key sources of information to analyse a workout are:

  • Post Activity Comments
  • Workout data

Post activity comments contain all subjective and observational feedback from the athlete and are invaluable in evaluating the workout.  The workout data is objective and provides the basis of assessing the training stress applied therefore capturing the data correctly improves both the accuracy and efficiency of the analysis.

Analysis of Workout Data

Below is a an example workout.

From the summary information it is not possible to determine if the workout was achieved as described – all we can tell is that the duration and intensity (pace) are close to what they should be but we need to delve deeper to see if the race pace intervals were achieved.

Looking at the graph we can see that there are some distinct intervals within the workout but the question is: were the intervals of the right duration and intensity?

To understand this we need to isolate the data for each interval and look at the metrics.  If during the workout laps have been created for each individual work and recovery interval then this process is simple.

When the data is uploaded from the device the lap data is also loaded into Training Peaks and you can therefore analyse each of the different intervals.

In the above screenshot the second work interval is selected – the duration is 9mins and the average pace for the interval is 3:57/km.  Checking the entire workout can then be achieved quickly by looking at the Graph and the Laps & Splits table.

If the lap data is not uploaded it is a time consuming and less accurate process to perform exactly the same analysis.

Recording Laps

Hitting the Lap Button

The easiest way to record intervals on the device is simply to use the lap button.  Ensure that the autolap feature is turned off before you start your session and then when you start a new interval simply press the lap button.

Creating a Garmin Workout

From here onwards a Garmin Workout will be referred to as a Workout (with an uppercase W).

The end result of completing a session for which you have created a Garmin Workout is a data file with laps automatically created for your intervals.

The added benefit of creating a Garmin Workout is that it will help control your session by providing audible alerts when one interval is about to end and the next one is to commence.  This means you can just focus on what you need to manage.  For example in the above example of repeats of 9min @ race pace with 1min jog walk recoveries if you were to use the lap button method not only do you need to monitor current lap time and pace and remember to press the lap button – with a Workout you just need to monitor pace.

A Workout can be created quickly and easily using Garmin Connect and this method will be described in more detail below.

On some devices you can create workouts manually on the device.  The principles behind creating a workout on the device are the same as for Garmin Connect.  Please refer to your device user manual for instructions on how to manually create a workout.  Click here for online Garmin manuals. 

 Garmin Connect Workout Example

The above is a screen shot of the Workout created in Garmin Connect for our previous example.  Once the Workout is created it can be transferred to the device.  Once on the device, this Workout appears in the Workout list from where it must be selected.  When you are ready to start the workout, press the device start button and the Workout will automatically progress through the programmed intervals as shown in the table below.

The method of transfer and how to access and start the Workout is device dependent so please refer to your user manual.

At the time of writing it is not possible to share workouts between different users of Garmin Connect


Lap Duration (mm:ss)

Elapsed Time (mm:ss)


Run 1




Recover 1




Run 2




Recover 2




Run 3




Recover 3




Run 4




Recover 4




Run 5




Recover 5




Run 6




Recover 6




Cool Down



Workout ends when Lap button is pressed

 The reason that the Cool Down does not have an automatic end is that you may still have some distance to go before you reach your finishing point.  In order to continue capturing the data the interval is not automatically ended but is manually ended by pressing the lap button.

 How to create a Garmin Workout

Workout notes

  • When creating a Workout in Garmin Connect keep it simple.
  • Use the Lap Button Press for flexibility over the duration of an interval, especially with Warm Ups and Cool Downs.
  • Use the Lap Button Press for intervals that occur at particular locations - e.g. top of hill, a run around the block.
  • GPS devices are highly inaccurate when used on a running track.  Track interval duration is usually distance and the track is clearly marked each 100m so use the Lap Button Press to accurately time a specific distance.  Note the GPS device will record an inaccurate distance unless used with a calibrated footpod.
  • Create an interval for each change of intensity / focus.
  • Utilise the Repeat to add repetitions
  • For each Interval or Recovery define Duration – either time or distance or use the Lap Button Press.
  • Do not add a Target to an interval the alerts will become annoying – ensure you set the display on the device so you can manage your effort to achieve the primary and secondary goals for each interval.

Run-Walk Example

Planned session
{9mE + 1mW} + 4x{9mM + 1mW} + {9mE + 1mW}

Run pace = E pace
Walk pace = W pace

This workout is essentially 6 repeats of 9min run + 1min walk and would be set us as follows: