Fenix 7 Pro and Epix 2 Pro get Add Enhanced Hill Score as a Notable New Feature to Forerunner Watches

Garmin ENHANCED HILL SCORE – for runners

The new Fenix 7 Pro and Epix 2 Pro both get a new feature called Enhanced HILL SCORE. Here are some of the details I wrote about in March explaining what it is in some detail. Re-posted now as the F7/Epix 2 Pro are about to be released.

Garmin’s new HILL SCORE feature helps runners train for hilly events and track their hill running abilities over time. There appears to be a mini Garmin ecosystem being built for hill runners.

via @JohnW, thank you

image via @winfuture

If you already own a Fenix 7, Enduro 2 or Forerunner 965, you may have noticed Garmin’s improvements in hill and ultra-related activities in recent years. Garmin seems to be better at catering to new types of runners, with significant enhancements to battery life and VO2max calculations for off-road running.

I have quite a bit of information on HILL SCORE, but how it all links together remains a bit sketchy right now. Anyway, here’s the information I do have, along with some thoughts. If you think there’s a nuanced angle that Garmin is taking instead, please let me know in the comments below.

Q: How do I get a Garmin Hill score?

Garmin requires at least two weeks’ worth of workout data, and during that period, you must be running up hills. This means you must be outdoors and tracking your heart rate to produce valid VO2max estimates over hills on multiple runs.

new Garmin Fenix ​​7 Pro, new Elevate, new features, new Epix Pro

Q: What is Hill Score

At its simplest, it appears to be a numeric rating of your ability to run uphill. You can see your current score on your watch and track it over several months on either your watch or Garmin Connect. It has both strength and endurance components.

Q: What else is included?

Garmin assesses your performance and gives the following plain English feedback

  • Your current training regimen has a good blend of elevation gain and low-intensity hill workouts. Keep it up!
  • Your training is lacking in hill-specific training at this stage. Try adding more hills at low intensity.
  • Your hill training thus far has produced good muscle endurance to help you maintain intensity on climbs.
  • You’ve reached a high level of hill strength. Continue your training approach to maintain this level.
  • Your training could use more intensity on the hilly stretches of your runs to improve hill strength.
  • Your ability to maintain power on hills looks good. You can climb steeper uphill sections at a faster pace and intensity.
  • More consistent training over the last four weeks is paying off with increased endurance. Great job!
  • Your training has a nice balance of high- and low-intensity workouts, and this is making your great endurance score even better.
  • Your increase in VO2 max has also boosted your already-stellar endurance score. Nice work!
  • Your hill training is paying off. Remember to balance your training with recovery to continue to improve.
  • You can improve your hill endurance by adding more total ascent to your workouts and focusing on running uphill at low intensity.
  • Hills can definitely be challenging. Try running them at a lower intensity to build your uphill endurance.

Garmin digs deeper into your Hill abilities and provides additional rankings for Hill Endurance and Hill Strength

  • Hill Endurance measures how well you can sustain pace and performance when running uphill. It’s based on elevation gain and time spent on hills with low intensity.
  • Hill Strength measures your ability to maintain running power on hills. It’s based on higher-intensity hill efforts.

Garmin Fenix 7 – gets fairly major upgrade

Take Out

I wasn’t particularly expecting to see something like this for hill runners from Garmin at this stage. However, it shows that Garmin is continuously improving and adjusting its feature sets for different kinds of athletes and runners, including hill runners. It perhaps also shows that Garmin is scraping the barrel with its headline new feature for the new Fenix/Epix PRO watches – there’s always one new sports feature and this appears to be it. #Nice but #Unimpressed.

To me, this seems very much like a first-generation attempt with more to come. In the future, this might include performance analyses on specific hill grades or comparative analyses of your flat running abilities, as well as training plans and workouts to actively improve your training effectiveness.

Please feel free to comment below asking if this feature will be added to an infeasibly old Garmin watch. You can as questions like “Will this be added to my Garmin Forerunner 305?”, in fact, there may even be a prize for the wittiest answer, although not a very good one. Garmin is here to make money and you’ll be lucky if it gets added to watches released last year. (actually, you will get it…but probably not for ones older than that).  955, Fenix 7, Fenix 7x, Fenix 7s, Enduro 2?…yes, yes, yessity yes yes. Garmin 305?…*NO*.



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10 thoughts on “Fenix 7 Pro and Epix 2 Pro get Add Enhanced Hill Score as a Notable New Feature to Forerunner Watches

  1. Thanks a lot for that alao for the information… i have question please, now I’m thinking to buy fenix 7x or epix, do you think i should wait so the new fenix 7 pro will be released soon?

    Thanks again

  2. Some people are into this kind of workout gamification but Garmin usually does it in a way that becomes irritating rather than fun.

    – Move! (turned that off)
    – Unproductive. Unproductive. Peaking. Detraining. (thank god they finally put a way to turn that off)
    – Bleep! Performance Condition: 5 or -1 (this is useless. what does this even mean? Off)
    – Suggested workout! [do this impossible thing based on no concept of what I’m training for] (no thanks)
    – VO2max = frustratingly unreliable number so show it after every workout (off)
    – body battery never quite goes to 0 (because then you are dead?)
    – stamina however can go to 0 hours before you sleep in a long event.

    Some of this stuff is clearly more of a toy than real sports science.

    Don’t get me wrong I actually love my Garmin. I use it more than daily for workouts and wear it 24×7 and enjoy the morning report and body battery and HRV stuff.

    I just don’t take the robot coaching stuff with any degree of seriousness.

    ClimbPro: thumbs up
    GAP support: thumbs up
    ClimbScore: sounds like probable BS, but cool with a whizzy graphic

    1. I´m testing (playing with AI Endurance) and I realized, that Performance condition seems to be HRV related. Because each time (in AI Endurance) when I got Power Ra (readiness)/Power Da (durability)/Pace Ra (readiness)/Pace Da (durability) in “GOOD” values, then my Garmin Performance conditon was also above zero and ends at -1 at most for that workout. So If I got large negative values of Performance condition in the beginning of training, it could be an indicator that I´m not recovered/ready for this training and should do something easier.
      But I agree with You, that many of these functions are odd and they are only for make people feel good :-)).

      1. It may have changed but performance condition was originally implemented long before HRV. 1 point of performance condition was supposed to be equivalent to 1% of the current instantaneous VO2max relative to baseline.

        However I find it is extremely sensitive to intensity. So if I were to go out on a group run where we are pushing the pace from the jump then I would see +8 or something, but if I start with a slow warmup then some small number or maybe negative. I think there is a built-in assumption for performance condition that you are doing a constant effort around zone 3 or 4.

        The other thing is what difference does a random early value to performance condition make that they bleep you with it? If you look at the performance condition graph over a workout it usually starts high and trends down but sometimes it is the reverse. Sometimes when doing threshold intervals it looks a bit like a sine wave. (Because it is sensitive to intensity.)

        Because it is ultimately derivative of a noisy and kind of dubious metric, it is a noisy and kind of dubious metric also.

    2. the thing your two lists of features share in common is whether they are physiology or not.
      garmin struggles with getting its take on physiology universally correct

    3. The move alert might be the most important warning your garmin gives.

      Sitting all day isn’t that healthy and you cannot compensate a day at your desk with a hour run at the end. It’s better to move around a bit every hour, or so.

      Unfortunately garmins implementation is a bit rubbish. Yes, you get the alerts, but at the end of the day you cannot see how many alerts or how many hours without an alert.

      Apple does a better job, but if you find the move alert gamification, you probable won’t like Apple’s take on prevention.

  3. I would be awesome if Garmin would be able to incorporate the hill score for treadmills too, maybe by using your phone to measure changes in ascent or with a manual input (even though you couldn’t change it during your run).

  4. Since it sounds like it takes power into account, will this not work if you’re using Stryd instead of Garmin’s power?

    Asking for a friend. 🙂

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