Garmin calls me Elite – misleading or motivating?

Garmin Endurance Score calls me Elite – misleading or motivating?

Garmin’s Endurance Score is a relatively new measure, released in May 2023. It’s a fairly useful one too. It tracks your general ability to sustain physical activity for an extended period.


how Endurance Score (likely) works

All activities contribute to the score, but longer aerobic activities in any sport will have the biggest impact. The top three impacting sports are running, cycling and swimming. Garmin caveats that if you cycle a lot, gains from cycling do not fully transfer to running endurance abilities. Fair enough.

We don’t know the details of the algorithm; however, it is known to be multi-factorial, taking into account the following to varying degrees and where available: activity duration, activity intensity, speed, power, VO2 max, age, gender, BMI (weight, sex & height), and activity level.

More: Edge 1050 Confirmed


A quick Opinion

It’s another ‘made up’ composite metric. Garmin is not unique in the industry for using made-up composite metrics. It almost certainly is not scientifically validated at the composite level but will include various bits of science in the constituent variables. If you understand that and take it as a bit of fun, it might, just might, also be useful.

new Strava Upload limit – #annoying

My Problem

My annoyance, or problem, is that Garmin is saying I’m ‘elite’ in my endurance Score. Look at the image above, it’s literally written in black and white! My score was even higher around this time last year (8137) as I cranked up some decent base cycling miles.

However, I’m just not an elite athlete. I don’t perform at an elite level, maybe 10 years ago my age-adjusted performance levels under a favourable classification regime based on the winning time for an ITU final might have snuck me into some form of elite classification for Duathlon.

So, what is an elite athlete? I guess you can use Google as well as me. It will give you various criteria but the key performance ones that we can compare ourselves to include these

  • Elite Male Marathoner: sub 2:10 (pretty sure I can’t do that!)
  • Good for Age Boston Qualifier (2024) for a 40-year-old – 3:10. I’m pretty sure I could hit the required qualification standard for my age group next year BUT I would have to train for it.
  • 100m qualification time for Paris: 10 seconds (wow!)
  • 5k qualification time for Paris: 13:05.00 (also wow!)

The 100m qualifying time is just over 4% slower than Bolt’s world record and I’m certain that lots of elite runners don’t qualify for Paris. So let’s say that the definition of elite performance is between 105% and 110% of the best time for that age group.

Elite Endurance Score

I’ve recently put in a lot of cycling base miles with several hundred milers (two at the weekend, for example).  Elite cyclists on the pro teams will do WAY WAY WAY more miles than I do.

I’m training for Ride London (100 miles) next Sunday. But even amongst my group of cycling buddies, some do AT LEAST twice the volume I do. They’re not elite either!! Even if adjusted for age.

FYI: Ride London 100 miles: I’ll probably do 4:15-4:30 and one of those buddies is going for sub4…but it’s all drafted and not that hard. sub 4 is hard tho.

I also wrote a few months back that I re-acheived an 80% age-graded 5k time (non-track). That’s excellent in the eyes of an average runner…but probably average in the eyes of an excellent 5k runner! #Shrug.

So what exactly is an elite endurance score?

I don’t know what exact criteria Garmin is using. But I strongly suspect it isn’t elite by any fair measure.

Don’t get me wrong, it still represents ‘good’ or ‘good for age’ or something along those lines.

But is that misleading or is it motivating?

A: Yes. To both!!

I guess Garmin intend it to have a motivational aspect or that it gets used in conversation and indirectly boosts its brand awareness. However, I’m just the kind of person who likes to have an objective assessment, ideally based on science or an official classification system…maybe it’s just me?


Anyway, I’ll take you out for a beer and tell you I’m an elite athlete if you like. We’ll probably both feel all the better for it. (I mean, I also had 5 beers at the weekend along with the 200 miles of cycling…elite athletes do not do that for sure)


Garmin will add ENDURANCE SCORE + ACTIVITY IMPACT to Fenix 7 PRO and Epix 2 PRO

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24 thoughts on “Garmin calls me Elite – misleading or motivating?

    1. Hahahahah, you are right!
      Zillions of data points and pseudo science…
      People love to lie themselves.

  1. Funny that you and Ray both post quirky articles about Endurance Score in the same timeframe.

    I am also “Elite” according to Garmin but I am quite far from that – I do roughly 3-4 hours of running a week, and recently about the same for cycling. I also walk a mile 1-2 times a day, and strength train for maybe 2 hours a week. All that adds up I guess.

    Lumping all semi-serious endurance athletes (if you are at all serious about your training, what I describe above is probably bare minimum) into this Elite category is a little bit like Garmin doing what Strava does with “Local Legend” awards – it’s finding something equivalent to a participation award to its users.

  2. I don’t know if perhaps I’m being a little too literal but it’s not calling you an elite athlete nor an elite cyclist, it’s giving you an elite endurance score. I personally understand that as: based on your age, gender, vo2 max, etc etc, you are able to sustain a high training load with impressive consistency.
    Either way, kudos! I work out in one way or another every day and walk extensively yet can’t get my endurance score above 5600 ;D

    1. ty
      yeah i guess its not saying i’m an elite athlete.
      i’m not training at elite levels tho
      none of my parameters are elite. though many are good for age…maybe Very good..good…whatever…just not elite
      i guess i’m jsut arguing about the word used.

  3. Garmin do not restrict wearable sales to athletes or cyclists. They market to the general population, so, self-evidently, elite is relative to that general population.

    1. Garmins are definitely used by elite athletes and I assume some of its sponsored athletes are at the elite level.
      true elite atheltes are, by definition, elite compared to the general population.

  4. I’m also of the opinion that it’s an elite score, not placing you in a category of an elite athlete.

    Real elite athletes aren’t relying on Garmin’s daily suggested workouts. They have tailored programs by coaches, using more invasive lactate threshold testing. So Garmin isn’t marketing to them, instead to me, a almost 40 year old desk jocky with a toddler who’s score may or may not convince me to go out for a run this evening, after work, after I put my kid to bed. And if I think my score will improve, I may just go out for a run in the rain and dark later

    1. but it’s not an elite score either!
      by defintion an elite athelte would score an even higher score. which would presumably be truly elite or, as garmin would call it, “Super Elite” or maybe “Mega Elite”

  5. Yet I run ultras and put in around 10+ of running per week. It’s giving me a “Well-Trained” score 😄

    Honestly that seems about right.

  6. Hey, @tfk do you know when Instinct 3 will arrive? It was supposed to be announced in march and now it is almost June. Please give me some info

  7. Garmin does like to inflate some of their descriptions, I guess in the interest of keeping users engaged.
    But there is then a disconnect between “Elite Endurance” and your likely “Good Club Level” race predictions.

  8. As BrianTR told , this is just another Garmin sponsored article to make some buzz and create chit-chat…

  9. I’m afraid there are far more sheep than everybody thinks! Even worse!! Of these everybody’s many are sheep without them realizing it……..

    1. Garmin “Insights” uses %ile as a comparison to the Garmin population. I wonder if that’s a better metric in this Endurance score.

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