Garmin Fenix 3HR

Garmin Fenix 3HR

If you haven’t noticed already I’m a bit of a techy. So when I heard about smartwatches I’ve been all over them – trying to figure out the best watch to buy. However, with so many options and frequent new models being released, I held off for some time. But when we started our insane training regimen the choice became clear that Garmin was the leader of the pack in this category. I sprung for the Fenix 3 HR because there were a few things that were very important to me.

I wanted a watch that could:

  • measure my sleep
  • have a built in Heart Rate Monitor
  • count my steps
  • be waterproof and very rugged (for obvious reasons)
  • have GPS (because I love hiking)
  • have an altimeter (this was not a must have but since I do love hiking I did want this)
  • have golf course integration and mapping (because I also love to play golf)
  • have some notification ability from phone (phone calls, text messages, etc.)

As I mentioned above, I scoured the internet looking at different brands and different watches. The Garmin Fenix 3 HR was able to tick all the boxes for me. You may be thinking about how expensive this watch is and very hesitant about that…. just remember, this will be on your wrist 24/7/365 (assuming you wear it like I do – as your daily driver). I was able to justify the price because of that. It became a critical device for tracking statistics of every part of my day – not just of my workouts.

Things I love most about the Garmin Fenix 3 HR:

This watch is rugged as can be – it can take beating. It’s been through a lot of mud throughout the various OCRs I’ve done. It’s been caked in mud and sand and all sorts of nasty crud. This is typically what it looks like when I’m done with an OCR. It’s a thing of beauty. It always comes clean and since it has a sapphire face, it never scratches. I’ve hit my watch on door ways in my house and it’s funny because instead of the door leaving a mark on the watch it’s the other way around – the watch leaves a mark on the door.

Is it very customizable. You can swap out the watch bands – I purchased a set of 6 bands for like $35. The face of the watch can be changed to display different information based on what is important to you. There are multiple settings that are available on the standard watch face. Additionally you can download various watch faces in the Garmin IQ (which is Garmin’s App Store). There are plenty of widgets and applications that are available on Garmin IQ as well that allow you to customize your watch to suit your fancy.

I find it interesting to see track my sleep patterns. Garmin gives me my total sleep time which is broken out in to deep and light sleep. It also shows me on a graph how much I move during the night. I usually glance at this stat each morning but I use it most to look at trends to see how my sleep patterns are changing.

One night sleep snapshot (this is also a widget on my dashboard on Garmin Connect):

Past 12 Months sleep summary in Garmin Connect:

Tracking your resting heart rate (RHR) tells you a lot about how your body is doing. If you are getting sick, your RHR will increase. If you are training intensely, your RHR will increase. If you are overtraining your RHR will go way up.

The week in the screenshot below I trained Monday – Friday. So on Sunday and Monday you can see my RHR declined but during the training week my RHR increases steadily each day. You’ll start to notice these patterns and realize what is normal. Then when you see something vary from the pattern, you know you’re either over training or getting sick. I got an infection at the beginning of this year and I could easily tell from my RHR. It was elevated about 5 beats per minute and did not go down over the weekend as it normally does. It’s interesting to see this change in pattern because 1) sometimes you can spot these RHR changes before you notice a physiological change and 2) you can get verification of something you may be assuming. For example you may think you are overtraining but not know for sure. Seeing an elevated RHR for an extended period will give you that answer.

I’ll write another blog to discuss tracking running statistics in detail as there are too many to discuss here. In a nutshell I like to regularly track my:

  • Vo2 max
  • Average Heart Rate
  • Average Pace
  • Average Run Cadence
  • Average Speed
  • Average Vertical Ratio
  • Lactate Threshold
  • Max Heart Rate
  • Training Effect
  • Ground Contact Time*
  • Ground Contact Time Balance*
  • Vertical Oscillation*
  • Vertical Ratio*
  • Stride Length*

*Only available if paired with Garmin HRM (Heart Rate Monitor)

What I don’t like about this watch:

Really the only thing I can think of that I don’t like about this watch it how much it protrudes off my wrist. It’s a fairly bulky watch and the heart rate sensor on the underside of it sticks out a bit (which they changed on the Garmin Fenix 5 series). At times the Fenix 3 HR will get caught up on things like when I’m tucking in my shirt it will get caught on my pants or putting my backpack on it will get caught on the strap. Also, it took me a couple days to get used to wearing a watch while sleeping and the size didn’t help. However, I got used to it quickly. Surprisingly, it’s weird to sleep without it – I tried it once (can’t remember the reason) and I felt like something was missing and I woke up a couple times in the night thinking that.

All in all though, I wouldn’t ever return this watch because of that small dislike. The positives far outweigh the one negative and I recommend this watch to anyone who wants a serious fitness tracker. #beatyesterday

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