The Garmin Fenix 5

12 mins read

I thought to write an article about the Garmin Fenix 5 I use since November 2017.

First of all, it’s not a payed post. Unfortunately, Legionstories isn’t that famous yet and I don’t think that it’s ever going to be. Either way, I wouldn’t sponsor anything I don’t know or don’t use.

The second thing I want to precise is that you don’t need a 500€ watch to pass the selections in the French Foreign Legion.

So why this post then?

Simply, because I love this watch and use almost as much as my phone and I think it’s super useful for a soldier.

At the beginning, I was thinking about to buy a smartwatch when I decided to diversify my training and started to swim in a lake. I was training during almost two hours per training with swimming flippers and a kickboard, but I didn’t know the distance I made. I’d like to have a Garmin Fenix 3, but finally I got a Garmin Fenix 5 model as a birthday gift from my family. Although I didn’t swim too many times in a lake since, I use this watch each day and not just because it has an alarm function.

Running

I think I was the worst runner in the platoon during the farm, the basic engineer training, BSM, BAM and even during the sergeant course. Okay, the sergeant course isn’t so relevant because I was much fitter than ever before. The only problem was that the others were incredibly good (I arrived before last one in the final 8km TAP test with 43”45’, which isn’t that bad).

Garmin connect stats for fenix 5
An interval running session

For the first time, I spot a significant increase in my physical fitness when I discovered how to use correctly my Fenix 5. I didn’t run for any special result before and honestly, I didn’t like running at all. I was good in pull-ups and swimming, but each time I went to run with my platoon I was suffering. Unfortunately (or not), running is the most common sport we practice as physical activity in most units. It’s simple, doesn’t require anything but a good pair of running shoes and some place. So once I had my watch, I started running progressively more and organize a running plan. At the beginning, I ran around 25-30km a week, but when I was training for a half-marathon, I reached 200-240 km in a month.

Garmin connect, not only for the Fenix 5

The phone application gives you a complete analysis of your performance and a useful indication about recovery. You can also create running workouts via the phone application. I use this especially for my interval running trainings, because you can chose a warm up phase you validate manually before passing to the workout.

Usually I do one interval running training a week. One with short intervals, like 30s sprint – 30s recovery and one the week after with long intervals like a 1km run (AFAP) and 500 meters recovery. You can plan this training in the app and transfer on the watch. When you launch the workout, the Fenix will switch the GPS on and you’ll have your track, speed, hearth rate and much more recorded during your training. If you have the necessary challenge spirit, you’ll want to beat your last result each time you train. That’s what happened with me. I’m still far from the bests, but I’m also very far from my poor performance of the beginning.

Swimming

Swimming is one of my favorite sports, but unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to practice as much as I want. I like to swim in the sea or in a lake, but I swim the most in the regiment’s pool. During a workout, I try to swim between 2000-2500 meters, but it mainly depends on my actual form how far I’ll go. The problem with swimming in a 25 meters pool is that you can easily forget to count the rounds you did.

Since I use the Fenix 5, I just create my own swimming workout on my phone and transfer to the watch. I can fully concentrate on my training, because it’s going to count the rounds in my place, with a ~95% precision. It vibrates on your wrist when you finish your 500 meters freestyle, but if you have 25 meters left, the stopper keeps going until you don’t push the lap button. It helps you to keep an exact result of your performance.

Workout

I’m a big fun of street workout, CrossFit, calisthenics, TRX and every sport that don’t need too much equipment. As a soldier, you don’t always have access to a bench press, a long pulley or a power cage. If you have a pull-up bar it’s already cool, but when you pass some weeks in the mountains, you don’t have anything.

fitness level monitoring garmin fenix 5
Fitness level monitoring

Since a while, I learned how to adapt my training to different circumstances, life situations and the Fenix 5 helps me a lot. I saved my workouts in my watch and can keep going on with my training plan even if I’m not in the regiment. My trainings became precise, because I always know how much repetitions I have to complete in each sets and the most important: the rest time. It allows me to control my progress, because I can do now 15×8 pull-ups with 90 seconds of rest between each sets, but not with 60 seconds. If I feel, that the trainings became too easy, I have three choices:

  • Increase the number of sets
  • Increase the number of reps
  • Decrease the rest time

With this method, my physical fitness develops faster than ever before. In a situation where I can’t do pull-ups during weeks, I just come back on a previous training and restart the process.

Stretching

Probably the most neglected exercises, but important to include in your program.

Stretching helps you to:

  • Increases your flexibility
  • Improves your performance in physical activities
  • Helps to heal and prevent back pain
  • Improves your posture
  • Increases your range of motion
  • Increases blood flow to your muscles

Before becoming a sergeant, stretching almost never made part of my training. Not even after a 16km long mountain jogging. Once we arrived back to the company, the sergeant or the lieutenant who organized the activity just said

“okay guys, you take a shower and stretch under the warm water”

I’ve never stretched under the shower…

You don’t need anything specific for stretching, but a plan or to know a few postures at least. Since I own a Fenix 5, I created a 15 minutes stretching plan I follow each time I finished a training.

The result: I don’t have to prepare the toilet paper before going for a crap, because now I’m able to catch it even while sitting on the toilet. And all this without breaking my spine.

Alpinism and other military activities

The utility of the Garmin Fenix 5 during military activities and trainings was something I didn’t expect.

 
The mountain is a place that brings together many constraints at the same time. Orientation is more difficult, the weather can change unpredictably and accidents arrive more frequently than during other type of trainings.

The Fenix 5 gives me a higher level of confidence when I’m guiding a team in the mountains, because once I launched my tracking, I have the coordinates in MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) and in WGS84 form. It allows me to give the exact data of my position to my chiefs and tell the member of my team how much clicks (or even elevation) we have to cover until the end of the mission.

The WGS84 form can be extremely useful in real trouble while we have to provide our exact position to a civilian rescue team. The trackback function permit to follow your path back to the starting point, which helped me out two times, while we were in a dense fog.

Summary

I can’t say anything bad of this smartwatch. The only thing I can do is to recommend for those who are frequently practicing multisport activities. Swimming, running, cycling, alpinism, any type of workouts or even indoor bike. The Fenix 5 from Garmin is a device, which gives you a real hand in your training and helps you to become better and better.

The good news is that if you buy the watch during an operation, you don’t pay taxes, so you can save a good amount of money.

Now, I only have to wait that someone buys me the latest version.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for this info as it all help out for potential Legionnaires there is also a Youtube channel of a US Special Forces operators who also recommended that watches can be useful for soldiers. I do look forward to hearing more stories from the Legion.

    • Honestly, I can’t imagine my trainings without this kind of watch anymore. It doesn’t only allow to track your performance but I can better program my longer rest phases and prepare more easily for harder physical challenges.

      If you can allow to buy one, don’t hesitate a second.

  2. Salut aron , suite aux actualité récente concernant les nazis ukrainiens dans la légion , ya t’il beaucoup de racisme caché a la légion malgré le règlement ?

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