PackYourRunningShoes

Sudden End of Two-Year Long Relationship

Goodbye Fitbit Surge. Hello Garmin Fenix 5S.

When I first started running it was with my iPod Nano, you know, that tiny square one with a touch screen. It had my music and Nike Run... all I needed at the time. I was just training for my first 10km race and wasn't even sure how long my running craze is going to last. Sadly it wasn't built to survive those sweaty runs and one day just stopped... I lost all the data and was stuck with a phone to count my steps and kilometres.

Seeing that struggle with technology my husband bought me Fitbit Charge HR for my birthday. I was over the moon. Now I could not only see how many steps I made, kilometres run, but also check my heart rate and calories burned. I fell in love with its clear, simple, and just beautiful App (don't blame me, I seriously love it and yes, teal is my favourite colour). It got me through my first 2 half-marathons and a 15km race.

App

Soon however, as I was running more and more, I realised that it is still not enough. I wanted more, I wanted GPS tracking to see maps of my runs.
3 months later I found a brand new Fitbit Surge under the Christmas tree. It had all I was dreaming of and still the same simple and beautiful App. Together we've done countless short and long runs, 4 half marathons and my first 2 full marathons including the longest, hardest and hottest so far - Singapore Marathon. And then, just like that, without any warning and 2 weeks after its 1 year warranty has expired the screen shattered. It was still in one piece, but with that spider web-like pattern inside. And I didn't even hit it with anything. I could still see something through the cracked glass, but the touch screen didn't work any more. I was in tears, however I really shouldn't be. The Fitbit customer service was the best customer service I have ever experienced. Quick email, they asked me for a couple of photos and soon I got a brand new replacement. Off for a run again... I mean 3 marathons 2 half marathons, three 15 km races, many kilometres and hours of training and all of that in just 7 months...

...until I got more and more annoyed, because my beloved Fitbit:

  • wasn't waterproof, and that is really an obstacle when you're running in tropics and want to just pour water all over yourself all the time,
  • the touch screen that I previously loved so much just ended a couple of my runs midway... and those were the long runs, that I really wanted to keep a proper record of,
  • the rubbery wristband started to peel off and there was no replacement option,
  • sometimes it took ages to get GPS signal,
  • it always felt a bit too big for my slim wrist, and wasn't really 100% comfortable to wear all day, but still, I was wearing it all day, every day...
  • except for the shower, bath, in the rain or swimming, because... again, wasn't waterproof.

So I started dreaming about a device that would do it all and more. Something reliable, something I could take on a run in the pouring rain or through those refreshing sprinkler tunnels they set up during marathons in tropics.

And when I've done my research there was really just one device that stood up to the challenge, the new Garmin Fenix 5S, because:

  • It is small (for a sports watch).
  • It is waterproof!!!
  • Has pretty good GPS and Glonass tracking.
  • It looks and feels sturdy enough to withstand me being clumsy.
  • Feels like it's going to last long.
  • Has replaceable wristbands.
  • Gives tons of stats, graphs, updates, suggestions, notifications for any possible sport and activity... including golf and yoga?! Not that I need it, but hey, good to know.
  • Calculates your heart rate, VO2 Max, training load, calories burned, keeps track of your sleep and much, much more.
  • Does not have a touch screen that you have to lock, unlock or it will play tricks on you.

Well, it also has a few minor drawbacks - mostly not a very user-friendly the App... and the price.

The App. No more clean teal backgrounds, cute icons, intuitive, simple and easy navigation. Garmin's Connect app is nothing like that, it's heavy looking and heavy in data, graphs, stats, page after page, it takes a really long time to find something that you're looking for and you can access some things only through their website e.g. to add events to that worst looking calendar ever. There is also no final number of km shown on the map like it is on Fitbit. Quite annoying while posting your training updates on social media.

The price tag. Garmin Fenix 5s is not cheap, currently AUD750 while Fitbit Surge AUD320. That's why I was sure Garmin will rather remain in my dreams, because for this amount of money I could run a marathon in some exotic place, including flights and accommodation. I was however seriously considering starting saving for it.

Then again... my husband... just two days after his own birthday presented me with a brand new Garmin Fenix 5s Sapphire.

running with Garmin

Now, after a few months of owning it I can say I really like it.

  • It's comfortable and convenient once you learn what's where; during the day and on the run, and believe me, I tested it in 2 marathons, couple of short races, weekly long and short runs in all conditions and temperatures from 0C to almost 40C, rain and shine.

  • I barely feel that I'm wearing it.

  • The battery holds FOREVER (I mean about a week!). Even after a marathon there is about 50% charge left!

  • I got addicted to checking my VO2 Max and teasing my husband that I'm as fit as 20 y/o.

  • I could go for a swim in the ocean on holidays and swim in the pool when it was counting my laps.

VO2 Max

In conclusion I still think Fitbit is just great for runners. It's easy and convenient to use, it's App is user friendly and provides just enough data to keep you on track to your half or full marathon or just to stay fit and healthy.

It is however not enough for those of us who dare running 4-5 marathons a year and train in all possible and impossible conditions. They are more likely to enjoy the new Garmin Fenix.

If you'd like to read more specific reviews of Garmin Fenix 5S there are plenty on the Internet. Here's an example:
www.theverge.com - 'The Fitness Watch I don't Want to Take Off'

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Melbourne