If you’re anything like me, you might find it difficult to push yourself unless you are training for something specific. I find signing up to a race a great way to get myself motivated and challenge my running, rather than sticking to the same old routine. And with that in mind, I entered the Aviemore Half Marathon which takes place every year mid October, along with the Aviemore 10K.
The first challenge when training for a race, is choosing or creating the right training plan (and sticking to it). So I decided to use Garmin Coach.
Using Garmin Coach to help me reach my goal
For me, I mainly run as a way to keep me fit for sailing and as an escape to stop me from going stir crazy in the house. Therefore, I tend to do runs ranging from 5k-12k as I find them the easiest to fit in around my day to day commitments. However, I was looking for a challenge and so I thought why not try my hand at a longer distance, say a half marathon (21k)?
The Aviemore 10K was my first official race and holds a special place in my heart, so I thought it would be fitting for Aviemore to be my first half marathon.
Garmin offer a training feature in the Garmin Connect app called Garmin Coach which sends adaptive training plans to your Garmin device. And have created training plans for three running distances: 5k, 10k and half marathon. Garmin Coach is designed to help take the guesswork out of training for your next race or goal, offering custom training plans that adapt to help you meet your 5K, 10k or half marathon target. Garmin Coach plans can be synced to compatible watches through Garmin Connect and the Garmin Connect App. This meant I really had no excuse not to miss a workout (no matter how hard I may try).
A real coach on your wrist
With Garmin Coach, Garmin has selected three coaches for you to choose from, each with their own unique view of training for a certain distance. There is an introductory video from each coach explaining who they are and how their training plans are different. This allows you to choose the coach most suited to you, based on personality, the amount of workouts you’re able to do per week and how long you want your training plan to be.
That said, for the half marathon distance there was only a choice of two coaches, both were American and had very similar training plans. I went for Coach Greg!
A truly flexible training plan
Unlike other training plans that I have followed in the past this one adapts and changes as you progress through, using the selections you make at the end of each workout on how you found the that specific run went. So for example, if you found a workout difficult or the program felt that the data your watch collected from your run indicated that you were struggling, Coach Greg would change or alter the next run to be more suited to you.
Of course, this also meant that if you found a workout too easy Coach Greg would make the next one harder! I really enjoyed the adaptive nature of the plan, which ensures runs feel tailored and specific to you and the plan fluid, rather than rigid and restrictive.
Garmin Coach shows the runs planned for the coming week. Being someone who likes to plan ahead, I would have liked to see two weeks’ worth of training to make it easier to factor runs into my schedule. But that’s my only criticism. Garmin Coach does allow you to choose and flex the days that you want to complete your sessions on very easily.
A real love/hate relationship!
At the end of a workout Coach Greg tells me how he thought I did. If he felt that I did subpar job he would tell me, which helped as he didn’t just permanently tell you ‘good job’. However, it also meant at times, I wanted to throw my watch at the wall!
Throughout the training plan you go through a love/hate relationship with your coach and watch. For me, I loved the detail of the different workouts, but it was the beeping sound it would make at the end/start of sets on stride repeat runs (multiple short intervals at a set pace) that I dreaded. Not because I hated the noise, but because it meant I had to work harder!
A bit of trial and error
At the beginning, as is the case with any training plan, there was a bit of trial and error. I found that examining the workouts planned for the week in some detail, ahead of each run, benefited me greatly. I would review each workout overview step by step. Then often do a dry run – allowing the watch to go through the stages of each workout on its own, while I was making dinner or walking the dogs. This meant I could see what was required and what buttons I’d have to press when out running. Any dry or trial runs can be discarded so Garmin Coach doesn’t log or count them.
Following this training plan, I have seen a big improvement in my running ability and general fitness, which shows that it is doing exactly what it is supposed to. I'm really looking forward to seeing what I can achieve in Aviemore!