GPX vs TCX

Welcome to the wonderful world of using a GPS to track your workout. Right now you either are trying to download a course route file or trying to export your workout, and you are wondering which format you should be using.

Here it is: If you have the Forerunner or Edge from Garmin, you will want to use TCX. There are two types of TCX files. You have the route file and the history file. The History file will have all of your stored workout data such as heart rate and speed. The Route file is the course information that you can upload to your local bike club’s Facebook page if you want to share your course with others.

The history file can be nice since you can overlay it on your current ride and have prompts that push you to “race yourself” and encourage you as you attempt to beat your earlier record.

As with the TCX, The GPX also has two files: the GPX track and the GPX route. The GPX route only has your cue sheet entries. This can cause a problem if you are trying to export from Google Earth. The GPS unit will take those entries and map a new route based on them. It is very likely that your painstakingly chosen, bike-friendly, route will be erased and exchanged for a more time-efficient one.

If you are going to use a GPX file, you will want to use the GPX track file which contains all of the points required to draw the map. This feature can let you transfer your maps from one GPS to another.

Now, if you don’t have the workout-specific Forerunner or Edge units, it won’t be able to process the TCX files. In those cases, you will have to use the GPX track file to share route information.
Ok, here is the rationale.

KML files are another one that you will run across. This file type is only used for exporting for viewing on Google earth. However, it is not usable for navigation (i.e., you cannot export from Google earth in KML file type and have it work on your GPS.

Even with all of the bells and whistles, it is nice to have a simple unit that can track speed and distance. Check out my list of bike cycleometers.

Posted in GPS