Create Garmin Running Course from GMaps

I went for a 9K run several nights ago and had the task of being in charge of leading the route within my pace group.

Forerunner 305 Watch by GarminUnfortunately, I ran out of time at the office and did not have the ability to study the exact route I was running. even had I dont this the route was so complicated to add in the hills we are using to improve our endurance during this training phase for the Chilly.

I was very kindly given the route on a piece of paper from the group leader and given it was night time I very quickly found how difficult this task really is while still running.

I decided during that run that this is an unnecessary impediment to Running Samadhi so I made plans to use my Garmin Forerunner 305 as a course guide. It is very easy to create courses in the Forerunner or the Garmin Training Centre if you have already run the course, but not so easy if you have not. Being part of a running group the route usually changes for every run so this was not an option.

This task was easier said then done. I spent several hours scouring the internet to find a way to do this as easily as possible.  After many false starts I finally figured out how this can be done with relative ease compared to manually editing an XML file. I wanted to share these steps developed for any other runner needing to create courses from a Google map (gmaps) before running the actual course.

Step #1: Draw the map with Gmaps Pedometer:

There are various sites that can create a map but the one that seems to be the easiest is Gmaps Pedometer. After you have drawn the map it should look like this.

Gmaps Pedometer

Step #2: Convert the data to an exportable GPX format. To do this you need to use a tool called GmapsToGPX.

As  a Firefox user this was quite simple to add to the browser by just dragging the GmapsToGPX yellow box up to the tool bar as shown below (click to enlarge).

How to install in Firefox

Once you have the tool installed then go back to your Gmaps Pedometer screen and click the GMapToGPX option you just added and select all the text in the box provided. Once you have the text copied into the clipboard then paste it into a Notepad and save the file as myrunningmap.gpx (or some other name).

Display GmapstoGPX Code

You should now have a GPX file of the map created in Gmaps Pedometer saved on your computer and ready to be converted to a Garmin Training Centre  course.

The fine people at GpSies will now do the hard part :). Please visit their Convert Tool developed using the link provided and upload the GPX file you just created to their site. So click Browse on their site, locate the file you just created and it should now show up in the white box as being selected. Change the convert to option labeled “Track” drop down box to Garmin Course TCX.

GPSies Convert Tool to create Garmin Course File

Click the “Show Options” button to set the title of your new course and the speed you plan to run it.  Please ignore the fact that it says MPH if you have your Forerunner and  Garmin Training Centre  Software using metric. I found that it will use Kilometres per hour if you use Metric units or Miles per hour if you use Statute units despite what the GPSies screen says. If you plan to run 11 km/h then just out that into the box provided as per my example. It is important to set this appropriately as it will be used for the course settings.

GPSies Convert Tool Options

You are almost there! After you click the convert button if all went well you should now be offered to save the Garmin Course TCX File.  Simply save this file onto your computer and you are now ready to load it into the Garmin Training Centre to upload to the Forerunner GPS or use it elsewhere.

Pick “File – Import – Courses” in the Training centre and select the file. Voila! you now have a new course. Sync the program with your GPS with the “Send to Device” option and get running.

I hope this guide has been helpful for other people looking to create courses for their Garmin Forerunner GPS watch.

I started with the requirement of converting the GMaps Pedometer to a Forerunner 305 Course. If you use tools on MapMyRun to generate the map instead of Gmaps Pedometer then there is an option within the site to convert the map plotted to a course. This is much easier to do but it all depends on where the map is first created.

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10 Comments on "Create Garmin Running Course from GMaps"

  1. Tim
    20/02/2010 at 9:04 am Permalink

    Thanks for the tip, worked great! Excellent instructions.

  2. Anders
    07/03/2010 at 4:52 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the tip. I just cant believe why course planning is not possible straight from the Garmin Connect site. It should be the simplest thing for Garmin to do. Did I miss something?

  3. runningsamadhi
    08/03/2010 at 10:22 am Permalink

    I agree with you Anders. I thought the same thing when I was trying to do this. It is super easy to add a course when you have already run the path in their software. I did find that Map My Run has a bit easier way to create the course file (after I created this guide). Perhaps give this a try to see if this works better for you? I find mapping on their site a bit easier as well.

  4. Patrick
    24/04/2010 at 1:37 am Permalink

    Hi – thanks for the instructions. Trying to do the same thing, I found that this site http://www.gpsies.com allows you to create your course and export direct to your forerunner.

  5. Sean
    02/05/2010 at 12:45 am Permalink

    Thank you for the useful instructions, runningsamadhi.
    A lot of people seems to have hard time handling technical issues with these watches. It’s easy, you just need to know how to do it.
    Very nice tutorial I’m gonna take advantage of.

  6. morey000
    08/12/2010 at 6:28 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the tips. I just tried it, and MapMyRun will export a TCX file directly- so that saves some steps. Looking forward to seeing how this works for our 20mi run through town, (with a lot of turns) this weekend.

    I’ve been amazed at how well the 405 guided me through a complicated 24 step track workout with an easy to build custom workout. Complete with pacing, rest times, and constantly changing interval distances. It’s an amazing watch. Can’t believe I ran without one for so long.

    Not only is it great for cycling as well, but skiing!

  7. runningsamadhi
    12/01/2011 at 10:21 am Permalink

    Hey thanks for your recommendation Morey! I have created a new tutorial for MapMyRun as I too find this a bit easier to do

    http://www.runningsamadhi.com/gps-running-tool-and-tips/create-garmin-forerunner-course-from-mapmyrun/

    I am also enjoying the workout features a fair amount lately.

    I had the same perspective as you did once I got the watch and I asked myself why I did not get it sooner?

    I recently added the foot pod to track cadence and I am really liking having that data to be able to track my steps per minute during the entire run.

  8. Ed
    01/08/2011 at 5:20 pm Permalink

    Thanks! Worked perfect. Was trying to find a way to import maps to my forerunner and you solved the problem!

    Edward

  9. Sareybabes
    20/11/2011 at 9:33 am Permalink

    The newest updates to Garmin Connect allow you to make your own courses and save and/upload them to your device. I still prefer to use Biketoaster for this, but it is all there if you want it.

    What I have not discovered how to do is to load a course which has been designed elsewhere in to Connect – perhaps they have done this on purpose to encourage you to use their own software but it is a shame if this is not possible – just because the mapping Connect uses is not as detailed as the stuff other sites (especially biketoaster) use.

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