Garmin Coach Plans

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Apr 2020
12:29pm, 7 Apr 2020
3,902 posts
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Have you used Gamin coach? Thoughts?

(The video is a random one I found on youtube that gives a decent overview.

My Review of the Greg McMillan 5K Plan:

I have just completed an 11 week 5K adaptive plan from Greg McMillan to run 5KM in the fastest available option of 22:00 minutes.

There are 5K 10K and 1/2 marathon adaptive plans available up to 7 minute mile goal target. Adaptive plans are supposed to adjust schedules based on feedback from the watch. I have no idea how. It would be excellent if it used stress data the new watches collect but I think it may be more basic and go on manual ratings on workouts (hard / moderate / easy) and how you perform on speed sessions or fast benchmark runs.

Caveats with this plan is that due to knee pain, I had not really done much running for the last year or more. I have been cycling (commuting) between 100 - 250 miles a week but that fitness doesn't not seem to carry over. I didn't know what run shape I was in so choosing a target was hard.

I had not run a 5K at effort before starting this plan but estimate that I was probably in about 26 - 27 minute shape.

The plan had me run 4 times a week and started off with low time and distance (1st run was less than 10 minutes!). I liked this as it seemed to keep my knee happy and stop any new niggles or over use injuries creeping in.

The plan would mix in easy runs with speed sessions that would be race pace efforts for 1KM with jog (or walk) recoveries and sessions with faster than race pace efforts that were shorter. In the last weeks I was running up to 40KM a week.

The Garmin watch gives you a screen like a speedometer dial to help pacing at a glance. Based on where the needle is, you can see if you are too fast, too slow or just right.

At the end of the 11 weeks we were in lockdown, so I used a local lake as my flat 5K course. Resulting time was 12:12.2 - so 23:13.
A bit disappointing be so far from target.

So what went wrong, was it the plan? No.

On race day, the helpful pacing screen was not there. My pacing is pretty terrible and I went off too fast and blew up at 2.5KM. To run 22 minutes, I need to run 4:24min/km - my splits were:

1 = 3:58
2 = 4:18
3 = 5:07
4 = 4:54
5 = 4:53

I think if I try again, with a pacing assistant on the watch, I could hit the target or get a lot closer. This pacing was user error but I do feel that either consistency in training and race watch screens would help along with perhaps a few sessions in the plan at longer threshold efforts to get me used to holding race pace. (I used to be able to pace quite well my feel alone 15 years ago but that was a practice thing, which perhaps a lot using these plans wont have)

Would I Recommend Greg's 5K Plan?
Yes, Overall the plan was quite well balanced and kept my interest, got me out in the rain and crucially did not injure me.

What Next?
I've used garmin watches for years but never programmed a plan into the garmin connect / watch but now that I have, I quite like it. I am currently trying to decide between using Jack Daniels VDOT RED general fitness plan (from the book) or Garmin's Greg McMillan 1/2 marathon plan. My main aim is to get faster at 5K with the dream of a sub-20. However, the covid lockdown (and not having any garden) means I want to make my outdoor exercise time count, so am favouring plans with runs closer to 60 minutes.


-- there are paid alternatives from Training Peaks, Final Surge, Train As One, VDOT or you can input manual plans from another source
Apr 2020
1:02pm, 7 Apr 2020
2,129 posts
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It is good to read about your experience. If you got you the end of the 11 week program with a happy knee, that is a reason for celebration. As you note, pacing was an issue, but without much recent racing experience, that is not surprising.
Apr 2020
10:09pm, 7 Apr 2020
14,811 posts
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Funnily enough I am just starting a Garmin coach plan - it's a heart rate based one from Full Potential, Get Fitter - 12 weeks.
Apr 2020
10:23pm, 7 Apr 2020
26,143 posts
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Wriggling Snake
That is a good effort for a first 5k, and yes a more consistent pace would really help. Practicing racing helps too. The more you do something the better you will get.
Apr 2020
7:35pm, 8 Apr 2020
3,904 posts
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@Canute - yeah, i'm going to try the 5K loop again later this week with even pacing guide on my watch and see how i get on.

@Autumnleaves - I had glance - looks good. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts particularly when you get to intervals. I find heart rate lags the effort a bit so I might any guidance for effort for me is easier with pace based rather than heart rate.

Did you follow a plan before or is this your first?


@Wriggling Snake - thanks. It's not quite my first 5K- I have a good number of parkruns but most of those were in 2005 - 2007. Given such a big gap, it may as well be my first 5K though. The plan stopped my mind trying to write cheques the body can't cash which often leads to disappointment.


I've decided to move forward with Jack Daniels training - his 5K plans start at 40 miles a week and I'm only doing about 20 miles a week at the moment, so I chose the beginner "red" plan for general fitness. His VDOT system gives me paces for easy, interval, repetition runs that I can then put in manually in garmin or via the vdot website. Both methods are the same in use but display differently in the calendar.
Apr 2020
7:54pm, 8 Apr 2020
14,814 posts
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@Kieren - interval run done tonight. As you say, heart rate lags behind the effort - I usually use pace as my guide and aim for consistency, so this was really challenging! I was spent by the end and my legs felt incredibly heavy!
I have used various training plans before but this is the first time I've had sessions sent to my Garmin, and used heart rate rather than time or pace. I like the simplicity - just load up the calendar and go.
Apr 2020
6:37pm, 28 Apr 2020
3,913 posts
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@Autumleaves - how is the plan panning out - 3rd week in?

JD red plan is going quite well. I am starting the 4th week of phase 1: I have 2 quality sessions a week with the rest easy + a longer run that is about 10KM steady. The quality sessions are either 3x 1 mile at threshold or 6x 1KM at threshold. Phase 2 is broadly similar but introduces 2 mile threshold repeats.

I have been programming these into the watch and set the interval to start after a lap button press, rather than immediately after the 10 minute warm-up ends. Lap button makes it much easier to ensure the route ahead is clear (local football fields are my choice to be able to socially distance on the run).

I really like the pacing speedometer graphic the watch gives. I have no idea on pacing these days so it is really useful.
Apr 2020
7:07pm, 28 Apr 2020
14,921 posts
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I am getting on OK. The intervals are the most challenging session to get right! Four runs a week seems right for me at the moment - this week is a bit of a cut back - although the intervals are still quite daunting! 2 easy short runs, and a shorter Sunday run. I like having everything in the watch - and I like that it beeps at me if I am not in the right zone :)

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Maintained by Kieren

Have you used Gamin coach? Thoughts?

(The video i...

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