Tech for your connected self

​Charged Up: A love letter to my (nearly) lost Garmin Fenix 5

You just don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

A slightly different tact for this week's Charged Up – rather than berate the state of the wearable tech industry, I wanted to muse over what was nearly a grave personal tech tragedy.

Last week I nearly lost my Fenix 5. Thanks to my wife putting it "safely" in a shoe box, which was subsequently chucked into the back of a car, I was without my Fenix for 48 hours. Missing presumed dead. Gone forever.

Essential reading: How to understand and increase VO2 Max

I went through all the stages of grief – denial and uncontrollable sobbing, a brief period pretending it was fine – then settled into the worst stage of all: never wanting to go for a run ever again.

So wedded have I become to the Garmin and the data it churns out, the thought of training without Garmin's metrics was just intolerable. While the Fenix 2 and Fenix 3 were both great training companions – before losing their place on my wrist to the Apple Watch Series 2 – the Fenix 5 has proved immovable.

And it's not just me who feels that way:

Added, post workout data such as Training Effect, which offers an insight into the effectiveness of each workout, are an indispensable part of my post-workout data sampling.

I have watched my VO2 Max score soar (ok, stutteringly rise) as I embarked on my training plan in January – and is a huge motivator to keep pushing on. VO2 Max is in my opinion, the best measure of physical fitness, and Garmin uses it best.

And likewise, Training Status is the biggest miss of all using software algorithms to examine changes in your VO2 Max fitness level and your current training load to determine whether your current regime is beneficial.

Charged up: A love letter to my (nearly) lost Fenix 5

I now live by the single word displayed on my Fenix. If my watch isn't saying "Productive" – meaning that my workouts are improving my fitness, I'm not happy. "Maintaining" and "recovery" aren't good enough. Don't even talk to me about "Unproductive" and the dreaded "Detraining."

These biometric insights have got under my skin. And for 48 hours, they were all gone and with it my motivation. How could I head out to the running track to bust out a grueling interval session and not know that it was adding to my stats?

It was evidence, if it was ever needed, that fitness tech now plays an essential role in my fitness – but in a way that wasn't necessarily so obvious. It's a huge motivational factor for me now, I just hadn't realised how much.


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