Though the Forerunner 235 is a great watch, it has suited me for running and OCRs, it does not have the facility to upload a route to follow. I like to do this as I don’t like getting lost and it allows me to plan out where I want to go, and how long the route is going to be. Previously I’ve done this by following the route on my phone, but this means I have to stop, take the phone out unlock it, find where I am etc…
I plot all my route using the ViewRanger website, or occasionally the app, this allows me to use OS maps to plan out my training runs (this will be covered in another post). Once the route is planned out, I can easily output a .gpx file, but how do I get this onto my Garmin? After searching for a while on Google, I came across a reddit feed that discussed the FREE dwMap app available from the Garmin IQ Store.
Once downloaded onto the watch you go through a setup process, they have an excellent guide on the companion website to detail this. Once the watch is paired with the website you can upload your .gpx file, dwMap recognises the points and creates a route, I recommend you name it so you can find it again later.
Select the active route (the clock icon on the left) then the next part takes place on the watch. You need to be online, with your watch and phone together so that it has internet access for the route to download. When the app is fired up it automatically refreshes the ‘active’ route onto the watch, however when loaded you no longer need to be online.
Actually running the route is fairly straight forward, instead of using the standard ‘Run’ activity on the watch, use the dwMap app instead. You’ll see an overview of the route and maybe ‘waiting for GPS’. Once the GPS lock is established its as simple as hitting the go button and start running.
Whilst running I did find that the app wasn’t very responsive, but I put this down to my watch being an older model and I was asking a lot for it to be tracking me with the GPS and constantly updating my position on the trail. However you can see above that you get a good solid line to follow, with a dotted black line behind you to show where you have been. There are also limited data fields on the map screen. You can scroll to other data screens however I found that these took a long time to switch to; so not much use for a quick glance whilst running.
At the end of the run there are no complicated screens, you simply pause and stop with the usual button, and then press back to exit. There is no option to discard the run, so you cannot accidentally lose it, so the run is saved and sync’d back to connect when you’re back online. All the usual metrics are recorded, so there is nothing lost in using an app instead of the built in ‘Run’ function.
dwMap also has a premium version, for a fee, which allows actual maps to be viewed on the screen at the same time as the track, however this requires a more high-spec watch than mine so have not had the opportunity to try it.