How to survive the Great Garmin Connect Outage of 2020

Garmin watch waiting to connect to app with the Ordinary Runner logo overlaid

What’s the problem?

Message on Garmin Connect advising of the site being down
The first signs of trouble

On the 24th of July 2020, social media was mobbed with “is anyone else having problems uploading to Garmin Connect?”

Days later, Garmin users across the world remain deprived of stats.

Rumours abound of a ransomware attack.

Garmin have been tight-lipped. Non-Garmin users are feeling smug. And Strava are probably pleased that no one’s talking about their subscription changes anymore.

But, what about you, dear Garmin user? You’re suddenly bereft of your familiar stats. You can’t share runs with your long-suffering social media buddies. Maybe, you’re not sure that your run even happened. After all, if it’s not on Strava…

It might feel like the end of the world. But fear not. I’m here as a fellow Garmin Outage Outrage Sufferer (GOOS), to help you through this remarkably first world problem.

Survival Tips

1. Run Naked

People painted as tigers running naked around London Zoo
Don’t do this, unless you’re taking part in ZSL’s annual Streak for Tigers
Warning, the link contains images of naked folk (mostly painted as tigers).

No, don’t strip off and head out with wobbly bits flopping about. You know that’s not what I mean, don’t pretend otherwise. If you’re arrested for running around in the nude, that’s on you.

What I mean is, leave your Garmin at home.

There was a time when GPS watches didn’t exist. Back then, we all ran “naked”. Just because we’ve bitten the apple, doesn’t mean we can’t now experience the innocence of a watch-free run.

Cast off the watch, lace up your trainers and run for the love of it. The data won’t exist, but the benefits definitely will.

If you’re worried about tracking distance, you can always look back over your years of accumulated data, pick a route, and run it.

2. Mapmyrun

Let’s imagine for a moment that you don’t mind option one, but you can’t access your old routes. There are, probably, people out there who haven’t yet linked Garmin Connect to Strava.

If that’s you, welcome to mapymyrun.

BG (before Garmin), this is how I tracked all my runs. Painstakingly pre-mapped routes were followed religiously and recorded retrospectively. I even used to time them on my phone, believe it or not.

Not so challenging for a 5K, longer runs proved more difficult to recall. Half marathon training involved many smaller laps. Luckily, back then I lived near enough to Bushy Park that those smaller laps were large enough, and interesting enough, to still be enjoyable.

3. Use your phone

Ok, so not everyone’s ready to leap into the murky waters of stat-free running. Others might find mapmyrun too fiddly or frustrating – and who could blame them. It takes a certain type of person to plan runs that way.

If you are the mapmyrun kind of person, I’m not judging you – I’m one of you! But, let’s be honest, it’s not for everyone. For some, option two is no option at all.

But fear not. Your smart phone can record runs directly into Strava. Indeed, many people only record their runs this way. It may be hard to believe, but you don’t necessarily even need that expensive GPS watch.

Some would argue that the phone isn’t as accurate. And I agree with them. But, for the remainder of the outage, you can put up with a little less accuracy. Can’t you?

4. Upload directly to Strava

If you can’t cope with your phone’s inferior GPS tracker, don’t worry, there’s a workaround.

For the sake of perspective, it’s worth remembering that your watch isn’t 100% accurate either. Especially if you run among tall buildings or through dense woodland.

However, you can upload data directly into Strava from your watch. It requires a computer with a USB port. And a little bit of patience.

Simply follow these steps:

1. Connect your Garmin charger cable to your computer’s USB port

2. Open File Explorer (or the Apple equivalent, if that’s your thing)

3. Find your Garmin – it will, eventually, appear as a drive

4. Within the Garmin drive, open the folder titled “GARMIN”

5. Then the folder titled “ACTIVITY”

6. Sort files by “Date modified”

7. Find the most recent .fit file(s) and copy it (them) onto your PC. Maybe pop them into a folder on your desktop, so they’re easy to find.

8. Login to Strava

9. Click the little orange ‘cross in a circle’ icon (just there, on the right, next to your profile picture) and select “Upload activity”

10. Choose “File”, then “Choose Files”

11. Choose file(s) from the folder you created in step seven

12. Click “Open” and marvel as your activity magically appears on Strava.

You can edit, add pictures, make notes and do all the things you could do via Gamin Connect.

The only thing you can’t do, of course, is review the activity in Garmin Connect. But you know that already.

5. Be patient

If that’s all a bit too complicated or you don’t use Strava, you could just wait.

It sounds mad, I know. But your runs are safely tucked away inside your watch, waiting to leap onto Garmin Connect as soon as it’s back to normal.

If you’re worried about mischievous data gremlins stealing files from your watch, you could always just follow up to step seven, above. That way you have a back up until Garmin pay the ransom or fix the server or find out which plug has accidentally been removed.

What’s more, you can always take a photo of the activity summary on your watch and share that on social media. You can even incorporate a sweaty wrist in the shot, offering your admiring followers further evidence of your efforts.

First world problems

Garmin Connect will be back (possibly before I finish this blog) and all this will be forgotten. Until then, remember, there are bigger problems.

If you can still get out there and run, then get out there and run.

If you’re not sure which option is best, I’d recommend either option one or option five.

Personally, I took option four.

I may be an Ordinary Runner. I’m not a normal person.

Marked safe despite the Garmin Connect outage
The Social Media meme factory in full effect