Garmin: Recovery Time Update – Key Changes to a Key Metric

Garmin fenix 6 specifications review
Shepperton Lake in happier times when we could swim

Garmin: Recovery Time Update

Garmin’s Recovery Time metric is one of the most useful and one that seems to be the most simple. I suspect that many of us knew it wasn’t exactly correct, that said, in my experience, it was often indicative of reality and therefore useful.

Well, Garmin has just gone and improved it, here’s how.

Old Recovery Time

Let’s not dwell on this too much, I’ve written about it here. The old method was EPOC-based and added the effect of your just-finished workout to the recovery time left on the watch.

Garmin Fenix 6 – Firstbeat Insights

New Recovery Time

Life is much more complicated than a straightforward formula. A bad night’s sleep delays recovery. A stressful day delays recovery and super-active day, in a non-sporty way, delays recovery too. You’re already ahead of me here and have probably guessed that the new recovery time calculation takes these lifestyle factors into account.


Sleep is the most important of those factors and for Garmin to factor it into your recovery you need to sleep with your watch. When Garmin decides you have woken up it evaluated your sleep quality and updates any outstanding recovery time too. Interestingly, a bad night’s sleep could, in theory at least, lead to a significantly increased recovery time of several hours and conversely the most awesome of nights’ sleep could further reduce the recovery time by a couple of extra hours.

I guess that’s what we would intuitively expect. It’s different, however, with Daily Activity as that can only increase recovery times. It’s also worth mentioning on this point that any recovery benefit achieved during an inactive day will be reflected in your 247 stress data in any case and the stress data is more of a ‘heads up’ that you are behaving sub-optimally rather than a call to action…well, a call to INaction 😉

Also new is an ABNORMAL RECOVERY ALERT. I’ve never seen one of these, yet a note should pop up on your Garmin to inform you if anything untoward has caused your recovery time to significantly change.

More Reading: Secret Firstbeat Metric – Adaptive Triathlon Training.

You can see your recovery time behind the recently revamped Training Status Widget on the watch (Forerunner 945, Forerunner 45, Fenix, etc). I like how these interfaces to the Firstbeat features are progressively morphing, particularly I’d say that Connect is getting ‘Good’. The watches still need a little more interface-love in my opinion.

Note: Possible improvements to the Garmin sleep algorithm are on the way. These will probably also impact on the accuracy of recovery time.


Deeper Motivations

Well, this was done simply to make it more correct and hence more actionable.

A deeper reason is that most of the Firstbeat Physiology metrics all mesh together at some point. You change one and it impacts another. For example, recovery time is a key input for the new Daily Workout Suggestions feature.

Moving forwards I suspect that Garmin sees their new Daily Workout Suggestions to be the kind of adaptive training/advice that most of us want, in the sense that most of us probably are not following a formal plan at any given time. Of course, the new Recovery Time directly inputs into this important new feature.

Read the following for MUCH more detail on ALL the other Firstbeat Metrics on your Forerunner

Garmin Forerunner – Firstbeat Insights

Take Out & Further Thoughts

I had not noticed any improvement to my recovery times but I’m sure the tweaks will be in there somewhere

I find Garmin’s approach here to be interesting as it is taking a simple training impulse/training load type approach (albeit EPOC) and moving it more towards an instantaneous measurement approach that some of us follow by using waking HRV as the key indicator on when and how to train.

Perversely I’ve recently been using my Apple Watch’s readiness-to-train feature (via an app) which is HRV-focussed and which takes periodic HRV readings through the day. I’m assuming it’s like Garmin’s body battery under the hood but I just get a prettier presentation with Apple. Also by using the Apple Watch in this way, I don’t have to wear the Apple Watch when I exercise, I can keep using it as my main ‘dress’ watch as the data for readiness-to-train is not dependent on the knowledge of my workout…unlike Garmin/Firstbeat. Which method is best? A: Both have their merits.

Apple Watch 6 | readiness-to-train with Training Today


Sleep Accuracy: Garmin loses, Fitbit wins in scientific study


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15 thoughts on “Garmin: Recovery Time Update – Key Changes to a Key Metric

  1. Is Recovery time really in GC? I’ve checked it just now on iOS and can’t see it anywhere in Performance Stats>Training Status.

    1. Yeah, I can only find the Recovery Advisor data in my Garmin device (235 in my case), nowhere in the app or in Garmin Connect. That’s kind of irritating, especially given the huge suite of information you can find in Connect. I suppose Garmin wants you to be wearing their device as much as possible.

  2. It is nice to combine sleep quality, daily stress and sports fatigue, the whole package. But garmin had problems in the past with sleep quality assessment. HR measured during the day depends on how you wear the watch, for some OHR work, for some does not. To handle the whole package, good data are neeeded, otherwise is just garbage in, garbage out. How can you be sure that measured data are good enough for the algorythm and proper evaluation can be done?

  3. This is good to know. Unfortunately sleep algorithm from Garmin is so bad it’s truly not to trust any of the other metrics. Unless this issue is finally addressed (has been discussed extensively in Garmin forums) like other brands have, there’s really little use of the stress/sleep metric.

    1. yes, the base measurements and base algorithms need to form the foundations for any company’s physiological claims…otherwise they run the risk of building a ‘House of Cards’ (easily blown over)

    2. Better sleep tracking is coming to the 245, 745 and 945.

      Garmin-Brooks 12 days ago
      Just wanted to get this update out there as there have been understandably a lot of questions about the sleep widget and when it is coming back. While preparing to release our new on-device sleep algorithm on Forerunner devices we found that some beta testers had more accurate results on the previous versions. As a result, we have removed the feature to further review results so our customers can ultimately have the best sleep algorithm experience. We are actively testing and verifying the algorithm on a wider audience and hope to release a public beta in the coming months. Thank you all for your patience as we continue to make improvements and listen to your feedback.”

      1. Not a word on why they released something that wasn’t ready for it. Because they didn’t want to come after competitors?? So sad………

  4. So what’s the difference between this enhanced recovery time thing and body battery? Or said in other words: Why does Garmin stay on 2 metrics instead of getting them together? I think the big amount of data and metrics should be bundled in one big picture!

  5. Unfortunately Garmin’s sleep evaluation is the worst of all watches I have ever used. The best in that regard is Polar. Garmin’s sleep evaluation is always at least 2 hours off. Putting sleep, as a variable in the recovery evaluation, would make that evaluation a lot more inaccurate, at least for me. I would rather stop wearing the watch during sleep.

    1. It doesn’t look like it. My Fenix 5 has recently been updated and I don’t see any signs of recovery time changing based on sleep etc.

  6. So, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like Garmin is trying to emulate Polar, but is Garmin’ing it up?

    And by that, I mean thrown the bare minimum into intuitive design, bank on user interpretation, and generally code it to be a mess for the better part of six months?

    You don’t have to correct me, I’m not wrong.

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