I want to improve my running paces and I’ve decided to start a training plan. Read more on my struggles so far here. I’m starting the Garmin Coach 5K plan to see if I’m able to improve my 5K time. I will be writing about my experience and progress on a weekly basis, so check back frequently!
I own a Garmin running watch, which is a requirement to be able to use these training plans. Check out my review on my Vivoactive 3 here. Garmin provides several options while setting up the plan. The first choice is whether you want the basis of your training to be run/walk, run or run with a time goal. As I have no issues with running 5K I decided to go with run with a time goal. The obvious next step is to set your time goal. Based on my current fastest 5K (I can’t find the exact time but it’s somewhere between 42 and 45 minutes) I decided on 35 minutes. Next up, which coach did I want to guide me through this process? There are three options: Jeff Galloway, Greg McMillan and Amy Parkerson-Mitchell. If I remember correctly the coaches are linked to how many days a week you want to train and for this reason I went with Coach Greg as his plan works with 3 or 4 days of training per week.
I have 4 workouts a week and on April 6th (12 weeks after I started) I should be able to run a 5K in 35 minutes (7:00 min/km). Coach Greg has a plan and I’ve got work to do!
If you’d like to know more about Garmin Coach, check out my Garmin Coach Tips.
The first planned workout was a benchmark run which will determine the next workouts. The workout in my Garmin Connect app showed a 2 minute warmup, 5 minute run and 2 minute cooldown. I had some trouble going out to run for 9 minutes only, so I decided to add a 30 minute easy run to it in a separate workout. This is not taken into account for the training plan.
I started my benchmark run, did the warmup and then my watch told me to “Run strong. Walk if you need to.”. I’ve been reading in forums on Garmin Coach that I was not the only one who was slightly confused by what kind of pace Garmin was expecting of me here. I decided to focus on the ‘run strong’ part and ran as fast as I was able to keep a pace for 5 minutes straight. This resulted in an average pace of 7:15 min/km, which was very close to my goal pace. So far, so good I guess. At the end of the 9 minute workout I was asked how I experienced the run from very easy to very hard (but with cute smileys). I marked it as ‘hard’ and went on with the second part of my run.
Training 1 – Easy Run
The first real training was an easy run that was divided into a 5 minute warmup, 20 minute easy run, optional 10 minute easy run and a 5 minute cooling down. It did not specifically state at which pace to run, which I found comforting as my easy is probably not the same as anyone else’s easy. I ran the 20 + 10 minutes at an average pace of 8:20 min/km.
Training 2 – Goal Pace Repeats
Coach Greg is testing me, he wants me to run six intervals of 400m at my goal pace which seems impossible for me at this time. The plan is 10 minute warmup, 6 times 400m at goal pace vs 6 times 200m recovery and 10 minute cooling down.
I messed up a little as I just blindly started running fast as soon as my watch buzzed for the next part of the workout after I finished the warmup. If I had looked at my watch I probably would’ve noticed that it asked me to tap the watch to start the first interval. As I was running I was asking myself “Can 400m really be this long?” “Am I there yet?” “Why doesn’t the watch show how much longer??”. After almost 1km I realized my mistake, slowed down to catch my breath and finally tapped the watch to run my first interval. This small mistake may have made the training a bit harder. But, in the end, I ran 3 out of 6 intervals within the goal pace, 2 were too fast and 1 was too slow. I’ve got some work to do on pacing, but it was not so impossible after all.
It’s also interesting to note that I smashed most of my Garmin records during this run. It was my fastest 1K ever (or since I started using my Garmin Vivoactive 3 in December 2017): 7:17, my fastest 1 mile: 12:16 and my fastest 5K: 41:27. I could probably have done better if the weather conditions would’ve been better and I wasn’t trying to avoid the many ice spots on the road. The results so far are interesting, this training plan seems to be pushing me harder than I was able to push myself.
Training 3 – Easy Run
Another easy run, 5 minute warmup, 20 minute easy run, optional 10 minute easy run and a 5 minute cooling down. Again the 20 + 10 minutes were done at an average of 8:20 min/km.
Summary Week 1
So far I’m loving how easy the training plan makes planning my workouts. There is no need to think about what type of training I’ll be doing today: Coach Greg has a plan and I just need to put my shoes on, roughly plan the route and go out the door. I also like the confidence bar which shows an indication if you are still on schedule to reach your goal in time. So far so good!
One issue I had with the plan Coach Greg has made for me is that he didn’t ask me when I would like to have the long runs or any other specifics. The only question the Garmin Coach asked me was how often I wanted to run and on which days, it seems that it doesn’t take into account any consecutive days you may have in your training plan. In my plan I had easy runs on Thursdays followed by harder interval runs on Fridays. To avoid overtraining and injuries I prefer to turn this around. Luckily the app has an easy (but hidden) option to reschedule the workouts within the Garmin Connect app. As of (somewhere) next week I’ll be doing my long runs on Sundays instead of Tuesdays, followed by an easy run on Tuesday, interval training on Thursday and another easy run on Friday.
Below information comes directly from Garmin and I’ll be adding this to every weekly overview. According to this I am in my third week, because I took the screenshot after the second week ended, but it was before the first workout of the third week. Week 1 is completely empty as I originally postponed my Benchmark Run.
Curious about my progress? Check out my post on week 2.