Before I start to gush about my Garmin Fenix 5x, I want to start this by saying I have no affiliation with Garmin, nor do they sponsor me in any way. I just love this watch.
Since buying my running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 310xt, at the New York marathon in 2011, I have become a serious Garmin Fanboy, making what feels like a very natural evolution to the 910xt, then the Fenix 3 and on to my current uber-watch, the Fenix 5x, which I talk about widely as one of the best pieces of technology I own.
On the cycling side, I am a big fan of the Garmin Edge 520 bike computer, which has pretty much all the functionality most cyclists would need, and the Garmin Varia radar, which integrates beautifully with the computer. Given the number of road deaths and the poor driving in general in South Africa, the Varia is a device I don’t think anyone in the country should cycle without. Basically, it’s a brilliant piece of tech which tells the cyclist when cars are approaching from about 300 metres behind, plots the car as it approaches and then moves past the cyclist. It’s brilliant for cyclist safety and something I recommend to everyone. And then the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 action camera, is as good as a GoPro and has the added benefit of integrating with other Garmin devices and a little bit gimmicky but fun, can even overlay performance data like heart rate, power (watts) from other devices into the video.
Back to the watch, I have sometimes questioned whether I need the next model, but every time Garmin seemed to tantalisingly solve the one minor issue / frustration with the current model which was enough to convince me to update to the next.
Two big evolutions for me, were:
- The removal of the need for a USB dongle to upload training files to Garmin connect. Functionality that enabled file uploads directly from the watch was a game changer.
- The wrist-based heart rate introduced in the Fenix 3 and other models across the range.
In the Fenix 5x, I feel I’ve reached the point where there are no longer any frustrations to solve. The watch uploads brilliant via mobile (just open the Garmin connect app) and even more brilliantly via wifi. If I walk into the house after a run, my phone pings a few second later to let me know the exercise file is already in Connect and Strava. The wrist-based heart is an absolute pleasure. Initially I kept running with a heart-rate strap for accuracy, but always got chafe / roasties in longer runs. Ditching it completely was one of the best and most comfortable decisions I’ve recently made.
A brilliant discovery earlier this year, was the Intervals training function in the watch. Rather than have to stare down at the watch and risk falling into a Joburg pothole while executing the interval, you just build a session with fairly simple repeats on the watch, or build more complex interval sessions in the Connect app and push them to the watch and voila – the watch guides you step by step through the session.
I know there is a wealth of functionality I’m not yet using. This watch has advanced GPS and mapping features I haven’t even started to master but there’s hopefully still a Sky Run 100 or other ultra-trail run in these tired bones that will require those in future.
The watch is pretty expensive by sports watch standards, but it’s my everyday watch now, fulfilling both the functions of a sports watch, and a daily watch. Before owning the Fenix, my 920 used to sit in a gym bag / drawer most of the time, requiring me to constantly change between it and my Seiko whenever I needed to train. Sometimes I’d forget the 920 at home and miss capturing my training data altogether and worse still – missing my Discovery points. Now I’m always ready to train.
The watch is a right-sexy looker too with the ability to change the watch face to suit any mood / setting, which makes it considerably easier to wear as an everyday watch.
I suppose if I were only running, I could probably opt for a running specific model like a Forerunner 235, but other forerunner models then clearly look like sports watches and don’t have the looks to function as an everyday watch. As I also swim and cycle, the watch has all the other advanced multisport features and functionality I need for those pursuits.
Considering all those elements together, the expense is far more palatable.
So I’ll be wearing it on Sunday and relying on it to feed me accurate data during the run. I think I’ll probably even program in some pacing and other guidelines to help me when my frazzled mind is battling with basic calculations 70km’s into the run.
If only I could have it carry me for a few kilometres. Now that would be a game changer.