Buy any Garmin device and you can tap into a comprehensive software ecosystem. But there are other options that can be used for additional insights.
Apple owns the smartwatch market currently while Garmin tops the sports watch market. Fitbit probably offers the best of both worlds solution. Of course, you do have other options which represent viable alternatives.
But for the moment, for anyone religious about their athletes pursuits – Garmin manufactured devices are the most popular. Not only do you get a quality product with (for the most part) accurate metrics, but you also get a rich software platform. This consists of the Garmin Connect smartphone app and the even more comprehensive website dashboard.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
In this article we’ve pulled together a few other software options you might want to try out. All of these can be set up to automatically sync with Garmin connect. Plus they are free, although some do have premium paid subscription options. Give them a try, you won’t need to fork out any money.
It is worth mentioning that these are our favourites. But there are other options such as Myfitnesspal, Runkeeper and more. As with so many other things – it is a matter of personal preference. Let us know in the comments below if you feel strongly that we’ve missed out on any great options.
For those who run often, Runalyze offers rich insights into your Garmin data. For now there is no app, so you will have to make do with the website dashboard. Simply connect your Garmin account and follow the stats.
This takes the analysis of your runs to a whole different level. In fact, there are so many options and so much analysis – that you probably will end up not using most of it. You will get more analytics that you need.
Everything from hystograms, trend analysis, complex VO2Max analysis, running tables and more is there. Recently, the platform was extended to enable detailed tracking of other sports. This includes cycling, swimming, flexibility training and strength training.
In addition to Garmin, you can connent the service to Polar, Suunto, Fitbit, Coros, Wahoo, Withings and other accounts. It really is one of the best run analysis platforms out there. It is actually the one I refer to most often in addition to Garmin Connect.
Another interesting free option is called Intervals.icu. It has support for runs, bikes and swims (with and without power). Launched in mid-2018, Intervals.icu has so far attracted over 40,000 users.
Once again, you get a very comprehensive software platform that can be linked to pull your Garmin account activity. There are basic and advanced analytics, along with a novel fitness/form/fatique chart. This is in addition to a nice calendar view for keeping tabs on activities. And let’s not forget the workout library which can be used to help take your training to the next level.
Another benefit of using this platform is the addition of a social aspect. You can link up and follow your friends, track their progress, coach each other and communicate with the built-in chat function.
This list would not be complete without the good old Strava. Much has already been written about this service so if you are a serious runner or cyclist, you will already be well aware of it.
This is one of the most popular services out there. Some 50 million athletes across the globe use Strava. This is mostly runners and cyclists with Garmin, Fitbit or Apple watches. Strava says it gets one million new users each month.
Whatever stat you are looking for, dig deep enough and you’ll probably find it in Strava. In addition to the comprehensive dashboard, you can also download the accompanying smartphone app.
You can access the service through your smartphone or the even more detailed website dashboard.
Part of the reason Strava is so popular is this vast user-base. Many people open an account for the social aspect. You can link up to follow feeds of others, chear them on, and compare your performance to other users. It helps to motivate you to push further and harder. The social aspect of the platform really is excellent.
Need some extra motivation? You can even follow professional athletes and see how they are doing. That should really give you something to aim for.
Beyond that there is rich analysis of your performance. This includes features such as a training calendar, heart rate and power data analysis.
Finally, let’s say you do the unthinkable and decide to sell your Garmin watch. Because this is a device manufacturer independent platform, it will retain your workouts. That means you will have a nice historical account of all your past efforts, regardless of the device that you use.
If you have not already done so, check out our detailed guide on how to connect Garmin to Strava.
Smashrun is a lesser known app than some of the others listed in this article. But don’t let that fool you.
What I really like about Smashrun is its originality. It really does offer interesting insights that will enrich your Garmin running running data. And these are the types of insights you will not get from most other platforms.
Smashrun is mostly comprised of dashboards of time periods. All you have to do is switch between the different time periods for new insights to appear.
While apps such as Runalyze delve deep into your individual run statistics, Smashrun provides more of a top down overview. It is designed to give a context for your performance.
For example, the software will figure your personal bests for other distances that Garmin doesn’t pick up on. This includes 3K, 4 mile, etc. I had no idea that I did 92% of my runs in the afternoon. Or that I least often run on a Friday and most often on Sundays. But not in 2022. I most often ran this year on a Monday. I didn’t know that my longest running streak was 6 days. And my longest break from running was 25 days. Or that my latest 5K run burned the equivalent calories of eating a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit.
That’s just a small sample. The list of unique insights goes on and on.
Interested in viewing all your 5K runs – ranked by time? Its there. How about the same for 10K, half-marathon, etc. My average running pace in 2022? 5:31 per km. Two years ago it was 5:58 per km. In September 2022 it was 5:14.
You get the idea.
What’s more, the software compares you with others so that you can see how you stand. And there’s an area where you can view badges earned if that sort of thing motivates you.
It is definitely worth trying out. I was skeptical going in but ended up loving the software. It helps to give you a sense of accomplishment – a bit like a video game.
It is not something I use after each run. But it is something I use once in a while.
Apple Health is not just for those with an Apple Watch. The software platform syncs with other devices, including those made by Garmin. You can check out our detailed article on how to sync up your Garmin account to Apple Health. It is not very difficult. Once the connection is made, it works quietly in the background.
The obvious question is – why would you want to sync up Garmin Connect to Apple’s service? What’s the point?
Well, if you own an iPhone, you already have the Apple Health app sitting on your phone. Syncing the data will not affect in any way what is in Garmin Connect. But you will also have some of this data in Apple Health.
Apple’s software has the advantage in that it offers support for many other devices. In a sense, it is designed to act as a repository for all your health and fitness data. It is not there yet, but this is the direction it is going in. You may as well get in early. Sooner or later there will be a central software platform keeping tabs on all your health data. And it would surprise few if it came from Apple.
Unlike some of the other options mentioned in this article, Apple Health does not have a web dashboard. Or an iPad app, for that matter. It only works on iPhones.
From late 2018 the ability to sync Garmin and Cardiogram was introduced. It is estimated that some 100,000 use the Cardiogram app every day. We don’t know if that’s accurate but the software is clearly popular.
The benefit of using Cardiogram is that it does a deep dive into your heart rate data to provide you with more detailed insights and historical trends. The Timeline tab shows your heart rate each day, with a detailed view for workouts and a special interface to track spikes related to stress, diet, or exercise.
The company has also partnered with certain medical institutions on algorithms that are used to detect more serious health conditions. This includes atrial fibrillation, sleep apnea, hypertension and diabetes. Link up your Garmin account to get in on this.
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