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Should You Use the Auto-Pause Feature on Your Garmin Bike Computer

by | Jun 12, 2024 | Training

Let The Timer Run!

When you’re out on a ride, it can be tempting to use every feature your Garmin bike computer offers, including the Auto-Pause function. After all, it sounds convenient—automatically stopping the timer when you stop moving and starting it again when you do. However, using Auto-Pause is not be the best strategy for your training and overall cycling experience. Here’s why you should leave Auto-Pause off and count all the minutes you are out on the ride instead.

Accuracy in Training Data

Auto-Pause might seem like a good idea to keep your average speed or average power up, but it can distort the reality of your training session. Your body doesn’t pause when you stop at a red light or take a quick break; it’s still working, recovering, and adapting. By pausing the timer, you lose track of the actual elapsed time, which is crucial for endurance training and understanding your true performance.

Importantly, most training software uses ‘elapsed time’ so there is no pausing or cheating the timer. In fact, Training Peaks recommends NOT using auto-pause to avoid issues with data validity and analysis.

Reflecting Real-World Conditions

Rides in the real world are rarely uninterrupted. You have to deal with traffic lights, stop signs, and other delays. Recording the entire ride, including these stops, gives a more realistic picture of your cycling environment. This might be a cue to adjust your planned routes or ride partners, or at the very least reflect the time you are spending on a ride.

For many athletes who ride off-road the auto-pause ends up stealing some of your hardest moments where you are working on steep uphills, around switchbacks, recovering from an interval set (with a high Heart rate) or even practicing skills. As they say, chamois-time is training time!

Planning Routes to Match Training Goals

Instead of relying on Auto-Pause, plan your routes to minimize unnecessary stops and interruptions. Choose quieter roads or trails where you can maintain a steady pace. This approach ensures that your training session matches the goals of the day, whether it’s endurance, intervals, or a recovery ride. This also helps build your skills like navigation and reading the environment and reacting quickly with a change in your position, direction, pressure or by using your controls (brakes/gears/dropper/lockouts!)

Alternative to Auto-Pause: Start Notice

If you do need to stop, for example, to grab a coffee or take a bathroom break and you really want the timer to reflect your ride time, then you can turn on the ‘Start Notice’ feature. This function will remind you to restart the timer if you manually paused it. This way, you can track your ride time more accurately and ensure that you don’t accidentally leave your computer paused for too long. More on Start Notice here.

Turn Auto-Pause Off

While the Auto-Pause feature on your Garmin bike computer may seem useful, it can lead to inaccurate data and a distorted view of your ride. By turning off Auto-Pause and planning routes that align with your training goals, you can ensure a more accurate and beneficial training session. And for those necessary breaks, the ‘Start Notice’ feature is a helpful alternative to keep your ride data precise. Embrace the full reality of your ride, and you’ll become a stronger, more prepared cyclist.

Need Help setting up your Garmin or figuring out your best training plan? Book a Consultation!

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