Getting turn notifications on your Garmin Instinct courses

It turns out the Garmin Instinct supports notifying you that a turn in your course is coming up. Like this:

It took considerable fiddling to work out how to make this happen consistently and Garmin doesn’t provide any instructions, so I figured I’d explain here.

TLDR: Use a 3rd party service to create the course, export it as a TCX file and then import into Garmin Connect.

If you create the course with Garmin Connect, these turn notifications don’t show up. Instead, you need to create the course in another service and then export it as a TCX file. If you don’t want the notifications (they can be annoying on trails with lots of switchbacks, or if you already know the area well), then use a GPX file instead.

Here are examples of exporting a TCX file from Strava (free version), AllTrails (paid version), and RideWithGPS (paid version)

The final steps are to import it to Garmin Connect. You can either do this by opening the TCX file on your phone and selecting the app, or by importing it in the web version.

Finally, to actually get it onto your watch you need to select the course in the app and choose “Send to Device”

It’s a bit of a confusing process to learn, but having these turn directions is really useful when running or biking in a new location. One thing I haven’t worked out is if there is any way to silence these notifications from your watch. Sometimes if the trail is windy they can get annoying. Let me know if you’ve got an answer to that!