Garmin Connect without a Garmin device

It’s not because you don’t own a Garmin device that you can’t wish to use Garmin Connect to store your workouts. Garmin Connect is a great app that can store and display lots of metrics in easily readable and colorful metrics. Let’s see if you can use it with a wearable not made by Garmin.

Can you use Garmin Connect without a Garmin device?

Garmin doesn’t allow third-party devices to connect to Garmin Connect. Only Garmin devices can. However, it is possible to upload manually a file or use ‘RunGap’ app as a link to Garmin Connect.

So to use Garmin Connect with a device from another brand, you can’t directly connect to Garmin Connect. You need to extract/obtain a .FIT file from your recording device and then either:

If you want to record your activities with an Apple Watch and sync your data to Garmin Connect, I have already written a dedicated article for it. Just follow the link below to find out how to do it:

Are there any limitations to the information that can be synced to Garmin Connect?

Only workouts that can be exported as a .FIT file can be synced to Garmin Connect. This means that it is not possible to sync the following types of data: steps, floors, sleep, all-day heart rate data…

How to manually upload activities to Garmin Connect?

Garmin Connect accepts manual file uploads on its website. So, one solution is to export the data from your recording device into a file that’s compatible with Garmin Connect, and then drop it into the “import data” menu in the top right corner of the website.

Import data menu from Garmin Connect Website

Please note this action is only available on the Garmin Connect Website, not on the mobile application.

Where to obtain your .FIT file?

This will depend on your device. Most sports watch brands have a dedicated app where you can see your workout stats and export data.

For instance:

If you own a Suunto device:

You can export the .FIT file on Suunto app by following these steps:

  • Go to “Calendar”
  • Select the activity of your choice
  • Press the upper right menu (3 vertical dots)
  • Select “download FIT file” to start the download

If you own a Coros device:

With Coros app, you can export a .FIT file with the following steps:

  • Select the activity of your choice to view the detailed workout page
  • Open the settings (top right corner)
  • Select ‘ExportData’
  • Choose the .FIT format
  • Choose how you wish to send the file

If you own an Apple watch:

You cannot directly export a .FIT file with an Apple watch, but some way around exists. I explain the steps in detail in this article.

If your own a Polar device:

With Polar, you can’t directly export a .FIT file from their app. An easy way is to use RunGap app free version to auto sync your activities to it and manually extract the .FIT files of your choice. See the process in the next paragraph.

Exporting your .FIT file with RunGap (for free)

RunGap allows you to export freely a .FIT file. You just need to set it up to import your activities from your device, select the activity, and click “Share” in the top right menu (“…” button). Choose “.fit file” when you are prompted to select a file extension. Once the file is extracted and saved, you can now upload it manually onto the Garmin Connect website.

If you go to the trouble of using RunGap, I recommend you read till the end of this article. There is an alternative solution within this app to automatically sync the data to Garmin Connect. Much easier 🙂
Please note that RunGap exists only on iOS unfortunately.

How to use RunGap to upload activities to Garmin Connect?

To sync your data automatically from a non-Garmin device to Garmin Connect, a solution is to use RunGap iOS app. RunGap is a central workout data manager that can connect to several services, including Garmin Connect, where it can import and export data.

Is RunGap free to use to sync with Garmin Connect?

RunGap is free to use as a central workout data manager. But if you wish to export workouts to Garmin Connect, you will need to buy the “Swag Bag”. It’s only $11 a year and it doesn’t renew on its own. So it’s quite cheap for the added benefits.

Please see below a screenshot from the app that details the added benefits of buying a swag bag.

RunGap description of the Swag Bag paid option

How to setup RunGap to export to Garmin Connect

  1. Download RunGap app from the Apple Store.
  2. Open the app.
  3. Go to the menu icon (top left).
  4. In Tools, click on “Accounts & Settings”.
  5. Choose the name of your device’s native app
  6. Click on “enable importing” and follow the steps.
  7. In “Garmin Connect”, enter your account details and press “login”.
    Do not choose “update” when prompted as this will sync all your activity from Garmin to RunGap.
  8. Ensure Garmin Connect is set up to “export”.
    You need to buy the “swag bag” to access this functionality. Go back to the main menu to find the swag bag option and purchase the plan of your choice.

RunGap is now set up correctly. The workouts from your sports applications will now be transferred to RunGap. You should see them on the home page of the app. We have also set up your Garmin Connect account in the app and made sure it allows exports to it. So it’s ready to use.

Read the next paragraph to understand how to launch the syncing with Garmin Connect.

How to sync workouts from RunGap to Garmin Connect

You have now 3 options to sync your activities (now auto-syncing to RunGap) into Garmin Connect:

1. Upload manually a single activity to Garmin Connect

  • Select an activity of your choice in RunGap from the activity list
  • Tap the “…” button in the upper right corner
  • Select “Share”
  • Select Garmin Connect from the pop-up menu

If the activity has already been uploaded to Garmin Connect, it won’t duplicate it. It will just update the title and activity type and not modify anything else.

2. Upload all activities directly to Garmin Connect

  • In the upper left menu, choose “Share & Export”
  • Select “Garmin Connect” from the icons

All missing activities will be uploaded onto Garmin Connect, any activity already on Garmin will be skipped. So if you have several activities on your list to share with Garmin Connect, it can take a long time to upload. But if you do it regularly, it should be quick.

With this option, you need to click the “Share & Export” button from time to time to upload your activities that come from your device to Garmin, else it will remain in RunGap.

3. Use “auto-sharing” functionality to upload the workouts as they appear in RunGap

  • In the upper left menu, select “Accounts & Settings”
  • Choose your device’s native app
  • Select “Advanced Settings”
  • Tick “Use As Source”
  • Go back to “Accounts & Settings”
  • Choose “Garmin Connect”
  • Select “Advanced Settings”
  • Tick “Use As Destination”
  • Go back to “Accounts & Settings”
  • Scroll down to the bottom to reach “Additional Settings”
  • Select “Auto Sharing”
  • Specify the number of days to look back when searching for new workouts to share
  • Enable “Background Refresh” from the same menu

It is now configured! New activities will upload automatically to Garmin Connect without having to open RunGap. Enjoy!

What if I use multiple devices with RunGap?

If you use different fitness devices with RunGap, like a watch and a GPS bike computer, for instance, there is no risk of duplicating data in Garmin Connect. RunGap always checks before uploading activities if it is already present or not.

To use different devices and make sure they upload where you want, it’s important to properly define the source and destination of the data in the app settings. You should also make sure to define in each source if you want to import or export the data. For all providers, it’s not always possible to export, but it’s fine with Garmin Connect.

Things you need with your smart tra...
Things you need with your smart trainer

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