Image source: Garmin

Garmin’s new wrist based Running Dynamics metrics explained

The newly released Forerunner 965 and 265 have some features that are not yet available on other Garmin watches. Wrist based or native Running Dynamics are one of these. Here’s everything you need to know.

The 965 and 265 are essentially AMOLED versions of the 955 and 255 Forerunners. However, you do get some extras at the moment which includes Load Ratio and native Running Dynamics. The good news for owners of other Garmin watches is that these features will be ported over to the Fenix and Epix 2, as well as high-end Forerunners, via a future firmware refresh. Probably in the next quarterly update.

Running Dynamics are not new

Running Dynamics are not new. They’ve been around for a while now along with Run Power. What is new with the 965 and 265 are wrist-based Running Dynamics.

Previously you needed a pod-like gadget called the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod in order to collect this type of data. The other option was to opt for one of the company’s heart rate chest straps such as the HRM-PRO, HRM-RUN or HRM-TRI.

Essential reading: Garmin Forerunner 965 vs 265 vs Epix 2 – comparison feature

But just like Run Power was enabled from the wrist a few months ago, now we are getting the same for Running Dynamics. No doubt, the introduction of the Apple Watch Series 8 and its ability to gather this type of data from the wrist influenced Garmin to do the same.

The data includes 6 separate metrics

Checking on Running Dynamics metrics on the watch allows you to tweak your form while you are in motion. There is no sort of setup that is involved, apart from tweaking the running watch data screens as per your preference.

Here’s the type of info that you get:

  • Cadence, which is defined as the number of steps per minute.
  • Vertical oscillation, which refers to the amount of bounce in your running motion.
  • Ground contact time: How long each foot spends on the ground with each step.
  • Ground contact time balance: The balance of ground contact time to the left and right.
  • Stride length: The distance between each footfall in your stride.
  • Vertical ratio: The vertical oscillation to stride length ratio.
Garmin Running Dynamics

Cadence and stride length are already included in most Garmin watches. So there isn’t anything new there. You’ve probably noticed this info when checking your running stats in Garmin Connect.

However, you now receive information on Ground Contact Time, Vertical Oscillation, and Vertical Ratio. The figures from the wrist will be similar, but not identical, to those from a Garmin accessory. Meaning they are comparable, but for more precise data, you should go with the Running Dynamics Pod or heart rate chest strap.

All the Running Dynamics info is accessible via the Garmin Connect mobile app as well as the web dashboard. And on the watch in real time.

After the run, the data can be separated into laps and segments. As a result, detailed running dynamics metrics can be obtained for each part of your run which is useful if you are exercising on changing terrain. Or to see if your form deteriorates the longer you run.

Long-term charts show how the data changes over time.

Ground Contact Time Balance is missing

Interestingly, Garmin left out one Running Dynamics metric from the set that can be obtained from the wrist. This is known as Ground Contact Balance. However, it should come as no surprise given that the symmetry is measured by the balance of left and right ground contact time. It would be nearly impossible to measure this with a device sitting on one of your wrists.

The bad news is that this is actually one of the most useful metrics for Running Dynamics. For example, if you’ve been injured or had surgery on your knee, the left/right ground contact time balance can be beneficial in your recovery. It can help flag up improper training. If it things start to go wrong with the data, it’s a sign that you should slow down or perhaps work on core strength.

Making sense of the data

Running Dynamics metrics alone have limited utility. Most people will glance at the statistics a few times before losing interest.

The issue is that Garmin does not provide any actual insights into the data. As a result, you are left to draw your own conclusions and convert the statistics into meaningful info.

Having said that, when viewing any particular Running Dynamics metric, you can use the “Help” button. This provides a brief explanation as well as “ideal” range to strive for. Which is useful.

For example, for cadence aim for a high figure, for vertical oscillation aim for a lower number, and for ground contact time aim for short time spent on ground. In our Running Dynamics Pod review, we go over all of this and more.

Overall, this is a welcome addition to Garmin’s already extensive set of running performance metrics. Any new data will be appreciated by serious runners. The additional information has the potential to improve your running mechanics, efficiency, and avoid injury.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

4 thoughts on “Garmin’s new wrist based Running Dynamics metrics explained

  • Is garmin fr 955 going to get wristband running dynamics measure?

    • Yes, the Fenix 7 just received it in an Alpha version of the software. 955 will probably be next.

  • Good review and I have a related question. I am moved from a Fenix 3 with HRM strap where I found the Running Dynamics data very useful to an Epix 2. As it has an optical HR sensor, I’d rather than use the HRM strap and was considering the RD Pod as ground contact time is a good data point. The info on compatibility between the two on Garmin sites is not great – do you know if the RD Pod works with the Epix 2 and if all dara is available? Thanks

    • I’m using the RD pod with my Foreruner 955 and it works just fine.


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