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How To Use Your Garmin Forerunner 220 Indoors

use your forerunner 220 indoors

Have you ever been tempted to skip a run because it was too hot, rainy or ice outside? Do you believe that a run un-tracked is worse than no run at all? (I can answer yes to both!) If you have a Garmin Forerunner 220, here’s a quick trick that will let you run indoors or on a treadmill while still capturing data — almost like you’re running outside!

How does it work? The watch includes an internal accelerometer which measures both pace and cadence, which means you don’t need a separate foot pod. (This is also helpful if you’re running through a tunnel outside.) It involves a few steps but it’s quick and easy once you get a hang of it!

How to use your Garmin Forerunner 220 Indoors:

1. Turn your watch on – your Garmin might lock on to the satellite while you’re indoors, but if you want an accurate recording of your run, keep following these steps! 

2. Press the down arrow on the left side of the watch to navigate to Settings. Press the purple ‘running man’ button to select.

forerunner 220 indoors settings
3. Scroll down to System (shortcut: press the up button once instead!) and press select:

forerunner 220 indoors system
4. Scroll down to GPS (or get distracted and explore Theme Colors, like I did) and press select:

forerunner 220 indoors GPS
5. Press the down arrow once and select ‘off’. This is what switches your Forerunner from outdoors mode to accelerometer only mode. Now you’re ready to run inside! Just a few more steps to get you back to the home screen.

forerunner 220 indoors GPS ON
6. Click the lap button (bottom right) 4 times to return to your main screen. My watch beeps and buzzes when I get ‘home’. You can see the satellite symbol now has a red line through it, which lets you know you’re no longer using GPS.

forerunner 220 indoors Main - GPS Off
7. When you’re ready to run, hit that running man button and your watch will begin recording your workout, just like normal:

forerunner 220 indoors Distance - Pace

A few tips for using your Forerunner 220 Indoors:

  • This won’t be quite as perfect as using GPS outside, but if you like to have as much data as possible it’s a great option.
  • The watch functions as normal when using it this way — you can still use alerts for pace, run/walk intervals, or laps.
  • You’ll get the best results after the internal accelerometer has auto-calibrated with outdoor runs using the GPS (so don’t expect this to be 100% accurate right out of the box).
  • Your watch is measuring cadence based on your wrist (not a footpod), so it may be impacted by things like drinking from a bottle or tying your hair up in a ponytail. If your wrist isn’t moving along with your body, you may see inaccuracies in your data.
  • This is also compatible with a footpod, which will give you even more accurate cadence and pace data

Here’s an example of a run I did on the treadmill a few weeks ago:forerunner 220 indoors example

You can see the pace isn’t quite as smooth or pretty as it would be while running outside. You can also see the increased cadence where I upped the treadmill’s speed around the 2.5 mile mark. While the data isn’t smooth, the average pace matched the treadmill’s average right on the mark.

If you want to learn more about the Forerunner 220 and see some in-depth analysis of the watch performance when it comes to treadmill running, check out this post from DC Rainmaker.

Do you ever run on the treadmill? I try to get outside whenever possible, but sometimes the weather has other plans in mind!

12 comments… add one

  • Carly January 12, 2016, 1:43 pm

    Thanks for this! I was wondering why my treadmill runs were recording a ridiculously low distance compared to what I had done! Going to try this out tonight!

  • Mister Christopher (in Atlanta!) March 7, 2016, 8:34 pm

    Hey Natalie. I ended up returning a Garmin Vivoactive, opting instead for the Forerunner 220. I’m going to be doing a LOT of treadmill running in the near term, so this is most helpful.

    I’ll let you know how it goes!

  • David April 6, 2016, 10:32 pm

    OMG. Thank you! My step daughter and I live in Phoenix and run inside if we choose to sleep in. I just texted my SD and she is so excited. Thank you so much for posting this great information. I really appreciate it!!!

  • rpahael June 24, 2016, 3:25 pm

    very helpful information, thank you

  • Nikki July 12, 2016, 7:50 am

    Wow! Very easy directions – thank you!

  • Kira July 20, 2016, 6:13 pm

    Thank you so much. I just got a treadmill and I was nervous about losing data.

  • dave August 20, 2016, 12:13 pm

    thx real mystery why I can’t find this in the directions included in the box

  • Abel Fuchslocher August 23, 2016, 6:23 pm

    Thank You!

  • Jennifer Donohue September 8, 2016, 1:01 pm

    THANK YOU!! My husband bought me the 220 for my birthday 6 months ago and since that time, I have read the manual over and over and contacted Garmin support for help at least half a dozen times because I couldn’t get my watch to record any distance indoors. I finally came across your post last week and recorded successfully for the first time today. It was the last step that was critical – nowhere does Garmin tell you that you have to exit out to the beginning before running after turning the GPS off. It was so frustrating that it wouldn’t work! Anyway, thanks!!

  • Mandy January 10, 2017, 3:54 pm

    I’m having issues pairing my Forerunner 220 with Garmin Connect. Says it can’t find the device. Any ideas?

  • Moema Monteiro Batista April 12, 2017, 5:31 am

    Thank you so much. It was really helpfull

  • Belinda May 28, 2017, 6:52 am

    Thank you so much for this info. I was also confused by the funky treadmill/Garmin readings.

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