How to change your Garmin settings to record in 1-second intervals

Not getting accurate Strava segments? It could be your Garmin settings.

Since racing is canceled due to Covid-19, we’ve been poking around Strava for new segments to ride. In fact, we even created one on Mt. Penn this week for mountain biking. But, we noticed that the Strava tracking files differed between three different tracking devices.

  • An iPhone 11 Pro using the Strava App
  • Garmin 520 with 1-second interval recording
  • Garmin 520 Plus with Smart Option Records

The Garmin 520 with 1-second intervals proved to be the most accurate based on looking at our data and versus what we experienced. Which got us thinking – what the heck are the other devices doing?

The Strava app and the Garmin 520 using Smart Options Records do their best to keep the file sizes small and use less data by only tracking whenever the devices detect a change in direction. When you’re on a straight road, your device may not record that you’ve passed a marker, like the yellow gate at the top of Mt. Penn.

We have a solution for Garmin users, and that’s to change your default tracking from Smart Option Records to 1-second intervals.

  1. On your Garmin 520 or related device, go to Menu > Settings > System > Data Recording
  2. Change Data Recording to 1-second from Smart

What’s the downside? Your file sizes will be larger, and your battery life may decrease. We have our devices set up to automatically sync and delete after a ride. If you don’t have that feature, you’ll have to plug in your device after a ride to load it through the Garmin Connect app.

This might not be the best solution for someone doing a bike touring or even something like Dirty Kanza because you could exceed your device’s memory or battery life. But, for a few hour session on Mt. Penn, Neversink, or Blue Marsh, it’s a nice way to keep your Strava account accurate so you can try to get your PR or even that elusive KOM/QOM.