Garmin Race Screen

Most of us will have been in a race where our watch beeps become increasingly misaligned with the course distance markers, and trust in our pacing strategy and split times goes out the window.

If you’re racing to a specific time goal, or perhaps pacing a friend, then being able to understand whether you are ahead or behind schedule is pretty important. This isn’t too much of a problem on short races with few obstacles, but run in a big city event with tall buildings or tunnels and your reliable GPS now thinks you spent the last mile running down side roads or going in circles.

At the Berlin marathon my overall race distance on Strava came to 42.97 kilometres for a supposed 42.2 km race! This meant the average pace displayed on my default watch screens had me on a 2h55 finish. I actually finished 3 minutes slower, so could have really messed up and missed my time goals without some help installed on my Garmin. This help comes from a Connect IQ Data Field called Race Screen.

Race Screen in action

I’ve used this app pretty regularly in races after a Great East Run pacing bus where I crossed the 10 mile marker and noticed my watch wasn’t at 16.1 kilometres as I’d hoped, and then tried to calculate if that meant I was ahead or behind, and if so by how much!

Race Screen primarily does two things. Firstly, it gives you a screen where you can see key information for your race, including current pace, average pace and predicted finish time based on your average pace. There are other Data Fields that have this same functionality. What sets Race Screen apart though, is..

Secondly, it lets you use the lap key (the bottom right button on most Garmin watches) to round the distance and pace calculations on the Race Screen field up or down to the nearest kilometre or mile. Lets say half way through a 10 km race you run through a mile of tall buildings and your GPS suggests you’re at 4.1 miles when you cross the 4 mile marker – by pressing the lap button the Race Screen will reset your displayed distance to 4 mile, and recalculate your pace and predicted finish time based on this corrected distance.

Race Screen does this recalculation without changing your overall activity distance (what gets uploaded to Strava). It is only changing what is displayed on the field during the race. Note: to get proper results you should have turned off the ‘Auto Lap’ feature on your watch first.

There are various settings for Race Screen, which I’ll describe below.

Race Screen settings

Seconds used to calculate pace is defaulted at 10, although I personally tend to increase this for a more averaged number.

Round GPS distance on new lap button press is the key feature – set to yes!

Lap length (metres) gives an opportunity to handle distance markers that are different to the units you run in. If your watch is set to miles but you’re running a 5k race with known kilometre markers then set this to 1000. If you run in kilometres but are racing most UK or USA events with mile markers then set this to 1609. You can set to other distances if necessary – maybe 400 for a track race.

1 kilometre1 mile
10001609

Race distance (metres) how long is the event? Handy table below:

5k5m10k10mHM20mFM
500080471000016093210983218742195

Race target time (seconds) is for your time goal. The screen will change from white to black depending on whether you are ahead or behind your goal. This is actually the worst part of the app, as who knows how many seconds there are in a 1h59 Half Marathon goal? Again to help with this I’ve added a table below, containing times in seconds from 0h00 to 5h59 at regular intervals. Hours on the top, minutes down the side.

m\h012345
0036007200108001440018000
530039007500111001470018300
1060042007800114001500018600
1590045008100117001530018900
20120048008400120001560019200
25150051008700123001590019500
28168052808880124801608019680
29174053408940125401614019740
30180054009000126001620019800
35210057009300129001650020100
40240060009600132001680020400
45270063009900135001710020700
503000660010200138001740021000
553300690010500141001770021300
583480708010680142801788021480
593540714010740143401794021540

Base race time prediction on average pace is something I set to yes as I prefer to even split if possible, rather than speed up. If this is unchecked then it’ll base predictions on current pace.

Hope this information may help you meet your next race or pace objectives!


Note: for those with the very latest Garmin hardware (full list here) there is a new PacePro feature, that can be used to prepare a pace strategy for a known route and track progress against it. I have not yet had chance to try this feature, but will investigate further. The Race Screen app described above will work on both new and older watches, and where there isn’t chance to load the route in advance.

Thanks to Neil Catley for the reminder about PacePro.


Further reading?
Review of Race Screen by DC Rainmaker

Get the app?
Race Screen on Garmin Connect IQ

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