Garmin has just added a key Apple Watch Ultra feature to the software of some of its watches, including the Garmin Fenix 7. It’s running power, available as part of Garmin’s Beta programme, which lets you download beta and alpha watch software with features not quite ready for prime time yet.
“Added wrist-based run power support” is among the fairly long list of changes in the alpha 10.33 update’s release notes. It’s available for the Garmin Epix 2, Fenix 7, Fenix 7X, Fenix 7S and Garmin Enduro 2. You have to download and install it manually from Garmin’s website, though, as it’s an “alpha” rather than a beta release.
Your first reaction to this may well be: Garmin is chasing Apple. Maybe it is. Apple made a big fuss over running power at the Watch Ultra’s launch event. However, watch-only running power readings have actually been around for a while — in 2020’s Coros Pace 2, for example.
While we’re yet to see how Garmin’s “wrist-based” running power pans out, it will certainly rely on Firstbeat Analytics’s work. This company was acquired by Garmin in 2020 and is responsible for many of the smarter things the best Garmin watches can do — as well as a lot of the best analytics calculation work in the entire industry.
How do you work out running power?
Some of the concepts behind calculating running power on a watch are pretty easy to understand. If you run uphill, your running power will be higher than doing so on a flat at the same speed. And watches can work out your current incline using either GPS data or a barometric altimeter.
You can go further by accounting for wind and using the accelerometer and gyroscopes to estimate the forces involved in your footfalls — which is what dedicated footpads deal in. Running power has been available to Garmin watches before now, but you needed either a Garmin HRM Pro strap or the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod to get it working.
The 10.33 alpha software also adds another feature we did know was coming, Morning Report. This was introduced in the Garmin Forerunner 955 and Garmin Forerunner 255 and acts as a neat, approachable and efficient way to see how you slept the night before.
We don’t yet know when wrist-based running power and Morning Report will migrate to the standard Garmin software release — not one limited to beta programme members. But we’re keen to try the former out.
For more info, check out this forum on Garmin's website.