Virtual Run, this is what Garmin is preparing


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Last week Garmin released two beta versions for the Forerunner 945 and Forerunner 245 with a number of interesting features:

  • Added Widget Glances as in Fenix 6 (by default it's off)
  • New Virtual Run profile to send pace, cadence and heart rate data to applications like Zwift (that's what this post is about)
  • Low heart rate alert
  • Improved battery performance
  • Other improvements and bug fixes

This is common to both models, and points the way to what is to come for all watches in the future. If the widget display option has arrived on the FR245, it is no longer something that will be reserved exclusively for the higher-end models (it first arrived with the Fenix 6).

It's simply a matter of viewing the widgets in a more compressed form by default (rather than one per screen), which means that you don't have to scroll as much to see any specific option.

Widget Glance - Garmin Forerunner 245

But if there's one thing that stands out, it's the new sports profile that Garmin has called Virtual Run.

Virtual Run, this is what Garmin is preparing 1

What is Virtual Run?

Virtual Run is not your typical sports profile, its main function is to deliver data from the watch sensors to external apps. And by external apps I mean Zwift. Once you have selected the profile, a screen will appear asking you to connect the app with the new sensors that are available through a Bluetooth connection.

We will receive data from three sensors:

  • Heart rate from the optical sensor
  • Running pack, thanks to the accelerometer in the watch
  • Running cadence, also through the accelerometer

So we can have that data in Zwift without having to buy any other accessory, but we could go even further and that is that if we connect an external sensor through ANT+ (for example, a HR band), that will be the data we will transmit through the watch as a bridge between one and the other. This is useful if you only have a sensor that works exclusively with ANT+, because if it is dual you could connect it directly with Zwift without any problem (if the platform you are using does not support ANT+, that would also be possible).

In Zwift, after opening the application you can select the option to run, and the first thing it will ask you is to connect a sensor that shows the pace.


Garmin Virtual Run

Until today it was only possible to connect specific external sensors such as a footpod, Stryd or sensors installed on the treadmill. But now we can also select the watch itself.

Garmin Virtual Run

The process of adding the rest of the sensors is the same, doing the search and selecting the watch on the screen that shows up.

Virtual Run, this is what Garmin is preparing 2

And with all the sensors connected we can now go into normal Zwift mode. When we start running the application will be fed with the data we are sending.

Garmin Virtual Run

On the watch you can choose to start the activity (to record the training data) or simply leave it on the sensor connection screen and make the recording via Zwift and then export it to your platforms of your choice.

This new sport profile will please some, but of course also Zwift (because it offers the possibility for users to enter the platform without any other external accessory).

If something hasn't changed recently, Zwift Run is still in "beta" and is free for any user. Not that it's really in beta mode, it's just open at no cost for you to get to know it and get hooked, they'll charge you later. So if this winter the weather forces you to run on a treadmill or you usually do it in hotels for business trips, download the beta update for the watch and start using it.

In terms of data reliability is somewhat more inaccurate than when we are running outdoors with the use of GPS, yet the calculation algorithms have improved considerably in recent years and of course their information will be more accurate than the treadmill itself (they are not known for its reliable pace data).

And with that... thanks for reading!

Eduardo Mateos

I've been surrounded by electronic devices of all kinds for more than 25 years. Using them, testing them, taking them apart and dissecting them. Long distance triathlete: I swim, run and cycle for a long time. Maybe too much.

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  1. Good morning Eduardo, thanks for this information, it is very useful to make the most of the data recorded by the clock, in my case a Vivoactive 3, which I hope will soon have this application.
    On the other hand, I wanted to ask if it's something generalized or something punctual for my case, that with the last update of the Iphones, that are presenting problems with the Garmin Connet application, because many times it doesn't receive the data, it doesn't synchronize, sometimes it is necessary to install again and with all the data from zero, in general, it presents several failures.
    Can anything be done?
    Is there another non-Garmin application for this synchronization?
    Thank you for your help.

    1. I doubt very much that it will be available on Vivoactive 3... It will hopefully be available on 4 because it is one of the new ones, but I rule out the old ones completely.

      I use iPhone and I don't have the problems you mentioned. If there is a time when the connection is not made, but I simply deactivate and activate the Bluetooth again. This is not something exclusive to Garmin, it happens to me with more brands.

  2. Good morning, thanks for the review. The Garmin Fenix 5 or the Forerruner 645, are compatible with Zwift without any other accessories?

  3. I almost don't know what Zwift is, because I just found out. The first thing I did was to see if it works with VR helmets or glasses like Occulus Rift or so, but I haven't seen anything that makes it clear to me (yet).
    Do you know if this will be so? Running over the tape watching TV is not bad, but the VR experience can be brutal.
    And I reiterate the pregnuta above (although I can imagine the answer), the Fenix5 will come to see Zwift?)

    Thank you 🙂

    1. There's no compatibility for virtual reality. And given the cases of dizziness using VR, I doubt very much that you'll see anything similar.

  4. How do I best hold my phone to see Zwift and not run into obstacles on the street? Can you recommend a hat mount?

  5. I love it, I think it is practical and with the addition of Zwift for the software functionalities it will be very efficient for runners. Good article Eduardo, keep it up!

  6. Hello good I have a Garmin Fenix six Pro and I can not connect it with my iPhone 11 would you know tell me why greetings ....

    1. Well I did not explain well I can connect it with the Garmin Connect, but it does not detect the watch with the zwift app.

        1. So even if the "virtual race" mode comes out on My garmin fénix 6 pro, you mean it is not compatible with the app?

          1. You are right. I was checking what's new in the updates but Garmin did not specify at any point in the changelog that it had been added.

            It should appear in the Zwift connection screen directly. Select running, then "running speed" and your watch should appear in the device list.

  7. Well I can't get it I've been trying since yesterday but it must be some technical problem no se....

  8. What kind of application name at garmin connect IQ must to install for get the virtual run apps for watch don't have virtual run activity

  9. Hi, Eduardo,

    I have a Garmin 945 and it connects fast with Virtual Run and Zwift.
    The problem arises when I've been running for a while on the treadmill, loses signal, on the zwift screen disappears pulsations and rhythm and the wristband stops running even if I'm running on the treadmill; I look at the watch and the 3 signs appear gray (they are green when it is well connected). And it happens quite often which is quite annoying....
    I don't think it's a wifi problem because there is a good signal.

    1. The connection is made via Bluetooth between the watch and the device. When that happens to you check in the connected devices to see if the connection source has changed. Anyway, what device are you using to put Zwift on? If it's Android, it's notorious for having problems like that with Bluetooth connectivity for quite some time now.

      1. No no, I use IOS, an iPad. Where should I look to see the connection source?
        Thank you very much.

  10. It is not going to be valid for the foreruner 235? It would be commendable on the part of Garmin and Zwift that you can with more clocks.

  11. Good afternoon Eduardo!!! I just bought the garmin 245 and I do not get the virtual run option as is done to have it that I have to do thank you very much!!!!

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