I have recently changed back from Sportstracks to GarminConnect. While Sportstracks still holds a few features that are unique to it and is a more stable and faster tool due to the program being installed locally rather than online, GarminConnect now features enough useful features to make it an excellent and useful application for a hill runner.
The main thing benefit is the inclusion of MB Gravity which corrects the altitude measurements of the Garmin watch itself and gives you a realistic picture of how much elevation you took in during your route. This is as basic a metric for mountain runners as pace and distance would be for road runners as you only get the true picture of toughness with that.
But it doesn’t end there, after my negative review of the original incarnation of GarminConnect, I can now say that I am well done. The work that has been done in the meantime is extraordinary, let me just mention some of my favourite features:
The ability to instantly turn every table you look at into an editable version and that way make quick amendments to numerous activities is a godsend if you have a lot of activities and like to keep them properly updated.
Likewise the ability to enter a “manual activity” is great if you forget your watch yet would like to log your run based on some other measurement.
When you look at the details of an activity you get the best map in the business with Garmin Connect. All the usual features (Map, Terrain, and Satellite) are there but you can also select “Earth” bringing in the full functionality of the popular Google Earth.
The overall interface is now slick and easy to use. The amount of available graphs with information is impressive and looks well. Speed of the application seems much improved compared to the earlier version.
When you choose the Splits section you get the full amount of detail we used to have with Motionbased for each lap run which is great for analysing why parts of a course where particularly tough/slow and similar analysis.
The player is a thing of beauty and watching your progress move over the standard map and on the elevation chart at the same time is fascinating. My favourite feature shows I’m a bit of a nerd, however…
Every table in the Flash interface can be exported to CSV which means a raw data file for use with Excel that you can manipulate as you please. I’ve used this extensively and allows for some really powerful analysis where you can bring the full force of Excel to bear on the data.
Speaking of data, the Reports section of Garmin Connect can be good fun to use. You can select any time range you wish of your data and it will summarise your average distance, elevation etc. for that period. A handy way to see how much climb you did in a particular hill intensive week which is particularly useful for people who don’t track everything in Excel the way I would.
There are obviously features I would never use as well but all would be found useful by at least someone (such as the Goals tab which allows you to set simple time, distance, or frequency goals).