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.
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.
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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