Running on trails and choosing Trail run or Run in Garmin and how that may impact programming?

Hi. Brand new to Athletica.

I’m lucky enough to live near some trails. Nothing extreme, but probably a little slower than if I was running on a road or sidewalk.

As I understand it, Garmin more or less disregards Trail Runs in calculating it’s various performance measures as it can’t know how well you are actually performing given the terrain could be much slower.

Athletica pushes the run workouts to my Garmin as, well, “Run” workouts. Naturally.

I suspect I’m overthinking it, but I wonder if I use the Run option but run on the trails, will Athletica think I’m slower/less fit than I actually am and that throws off my programming? My hard packed trails probably aren’t much slower than asphalt, but the winding nature may throw off the GPS and make the distance off ever slow slightly.

Hello Jimbo and welcome to Athletica! Are you using a heart rate device? If so, I suspect Garmin will mostly use that for your runs. It will see that you’re working equally hard on the trails rather than the pavement!

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Yes, I use a strap HR monitor with a Garmin watch.

Today calls for a simple one-hour L2 run. There are pacing suggestions but I reckon as long as my HR stays in the proper zone then Athletica will log that as a successful run. I’m not that concerned about covering slightly less ground in the 60 minutes than if I had been on a road.

My concern is that over time Athletica will look at slower pace (either due to terrain or the Garmin GPS smoothing out the curves and think I covered less ground), and perceive me to be less fit than I actually am. (I think that’s why Garmin doesn’t use Trail Runs in some of its internal fitness calculations. When I do a regular ‘run’ with the Garmin, in the first few minutes it will tell me how I’m performing against my baseline, presumably based on HR and speed. It doesn’t do that in Trail Run mode. )

I’m inclined to think I’m worrying too much about it. On faster or test runs I would choose the road just in case the AI is using that behind the scenes to calculate metrics. For L2 runs, I can’t imagine it mattering too much.

Anyway, I’m just getting started with Athletica on a mid-volume triathlon plan and really like it. I’ll be subscribing.

Thanks for the reply.


Hey @jimboG,
Thanks for your comments and support.

When we assess your load for running, we use your Normalised Graded Pace (NGP), which is an approximation of the equivalent pace had your run been done on flat terrain. Therefore, when you eyeball a running session on your plan, make duration, ‘feel’ and HR your key targets and worry less about distance per se.

I highlight the area that is used to calculate your training load on your session analysis. That takes elevation gain and loss into account.



Thank you both. I appreciate it.