With technology advancing seemingly faster and faster each year, as consumers we must accept that we can no longer own the latest and greatest. Unless of course, you have the inclination to spend fortunes each year on ensuring that you do have the latest there is to offer.
Two technology giants have proved this in the past few weeks, with Apple announcing their latest phone range less than two years after their last, along with further new offerings in their wearable and tablet ranges. With more relevance to this site, the other technology giant I speak of is Garmin, who recently announced an updated range to their own host of wearables. There are new versions of the Vivoactive and Vivomove (the Vivomove Style looks very smart!), along with a brand new watch called the Venu. They also recently announced a new version of their flagship model, the Fenix.
I bought my Fenix 5X in 2017 and, just two years later, there have been a further two models released, with the 5+ series and now the 6. I understand that, to stay competitive in the market, companies such as Garmin need to regularly update their models as new technology becomes available, but it is rather frustrating that you can spend over £650 on a watch that is then two models old just two years down the line. That being said, there’s not too many features on the newer versions that make me want to go out and upgrade.
The improvements on the F5X+ compared to the F5X were things like Garmin Pay (not particularly interested, I’ve never even used Apple Pay), on board music (I’ve never ran with music), better battery life (Not an issue for me, my biggest run has ‘only’ been 18 miles) and a pulse oximeter (nope, not interested in that either). So, there was no desire to upgrade here.
The Fenix 6 however, is more of an upgrade, with plenty of new features, although many that the average runner still doesn’t really need (PulseOx anyone?). There was one new feature that got my attention though, and that’s PacePro, which claims to help you pace a course (likely a race) depending on the terrain.
Flicking through my Garmin Connect account recently, I noticed a tab for PacePro Pacing Strategies. Intrigued, I went through the process of setting up my own PacePro Strategy to get an idea of what it offered. I then tried sending the result to my device, but I was told, expectedly, that I did not have a compatible device associated with my Garmin Connect account.
Upon going through the process of setting up the strategy, you must first select a course that you have already created with your Connect account. I created the Coventry Half marathon route as I know that is a good example of an undulating course. You then select your target finish time, followed by two adjustable sliders for running a positive/negative split and your preferred effort on the hills (easier/harder).
You also select splits based on either each mile or each kilometre and then the AI provides you with an optimal time for each split along that course, depending on your decision with regards to positive/negative and the elevation gain/loss for each individual split. In this case, it is therefore beneficial to opt for each km as opposed to each mile. This is due to a km taking a smaller sample size of the course and therefore providing a more accurate assessment of the split. As the elevation gain/loss is averaged across the length of a split, you could start with a short but sharp uphill but then finish with a long sweeping downhill. Your target for that split could be for a fast one due to the average being more negative than positive gain. The image below shows the output given the above inputs.
In principle, it looks great, and exactly what I’ve been looking for for a while. I’ve often found it hard to gauge effort and pace throughout a race that contains significant ups and downs. This is the reason that I’ve been considering a Stryd power meter, although I just cannot justify the price. I do run with Garmin Running Power, although I rarely use it due to the inaccuracies of the Garmin footpod over varying paces. PacePro though, looks perfect, if only I had a compatible device, and I’m not spending another small fortune on the F6 just for this.
One way around the device compatibility would be to take the results of the above and create a workout within Garmin Connect, which you can then send to a host of devices (I wanted to say all, but I believe some of the lower end watches do not support workouts). As I haven’t used it, I’m not sure how PacePro works exactly, but given the screenshots above, it doesn’t look any more complicated than giving you a target pace for each split. This could easily be replicated with a workout.
For now, my F5X does everything I need it to, and more. I’m either not interested in the new features offered on the new watches, or not interested enough to warrant another big purchase. This may change with the introduction of the Fenix 7 (next year?!) but I’m planning on sticking with my trusty F5X until the battery starts playing up and it no longer lasts as long as I need it to. It may not be perfect, but it works for me.
As for Garmin, I wish they would divert some of their efforts to releasing a new footpod that offers greater accuracy over their current, now old, model. Supposedly there is one imminent, but there doesn’t appear to be any signs of one being released this side of Christmas. That would be an upgrade that I would be interested in making.