A faster half marathon – Last long run and more speed work A faster half marathon – Last long run and more speed work
A faster half marathon – Last long run and more speed work
A faster half marathon – Last long run and more speed work
A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs
A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs
A faster half marathon – Speed repeats and sunrise runs
A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan
A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan
A faster half marathon – Back to training, resuming the Garmin Coach plan
Best Garmin watches for running Best Garmin watches for running
Best Garmin watches for running
Best Garmin watches for running
A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan
A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan
A faster half marathon – More speed work and pausing the Coach plan

Garmin Coach – Which Coach do you choose?

Garmin Coach is an adaptive training plan introduced by Garmin in 2018. Based on your personal input and preferences it creates an adaptive training plan with workouts that can be synched to your Garmin watch. Garmin Coach will provide you with real feedback while you’re working through your training plan based on your performance. During the setup of Garmin Coach you’ll need to choose a coach. Which coach you choose determines what your training plan will look like, so it’s an important part of the process. Not sure yet? This article will help you guide you through your decision.

Introducing the Garmin Coaches

Garmin has selected three coaches for you to choose from, each with their own unique view of training for a certain distance. Below the descriptions Garmin provides about them:

Greg McMillan / Coach Greg: This runner, physiologist and online coach has the unique ability to combine the science of endurance performance with the art of real-world coaching.

“As an exercise physiologist I enjoy the science of running, whether it’s the proper form to prevent injury or the right food to fuel your training.”

Amy Parkerson-Mitchel / Coach Amy: An avid runner, physical therapist and certified coach, Amy focuses on the principles of biomechanics to prevent injury while running.

“I love watching runners catch the bug and become passionate about the sport”

Jeff Galloway / Coach Jeff: Olympian and best-selling author. More than a million runners and walkers have read Galloway’s books or joined his training programs. His methods help beginners start running with walk breaks to control fatigue.

“Running is my life and my passion and I love to teach others how endurance achievement doesn’t have to hurt”

The training plans

Below you’ll find an overview of the different workouts you may encounter during your training plan with each coach. Some of these workouts may only appear if you’re training for a specific distance. The plans also differ depending on if your goal is to complete the distance or if you have a time goal set.

Coach Greg

Greg will have you running 3 workouts a week with a completion goal and 4 or 5 workouts per week if you choose a time goal. He will give you timed runs and specific drills that will help you work on your speed and form and increase your distance. If you have a time goal, the workouts in which you’ll be doing some form of speed work can add up to three workouts per week. Many of his workouts will have an optional part you can skip without guilty feelings. Coach Greg’s plan is the only one with optional parts in the workouts.

  • Goal pace repeats, short or long intervals at goal pace followed by a recovery period.
  • Goal pace runs, block to be run at goal pace, usually directly followed by an additional, optional block. Several variations in duration possible.
  • Steady state run, multiple longer intervals at a slightly slower pace as your goal pace. This workout is only included in the 5K plan.
  • Stride repeats, multiple short intervals followed by a short recovery. This workout is focused on cadence and aimed at getting your legs used to moving at a quicker pace. The plans will repeat this workout several times with increasing cadence goals based on your earlier performance.
  • Tempo run, short run ran at a medium to hard pace, in between your 10K and half marathon pace.
  • Hill repeats, multiple short intervals up a hill. This workout is only included in the 5K plan.
  • Speed repeats, multiple short intervals faster as goal pace, followed by a walk/jog break focused on improving speed. Several variations in duration possible.
  • Easy run, short or long runs intended to add mileage and endurance.
  • Progressions run, similar to easy runs (short and long), but adds one or two 5-15 minute faster segments at the end of your run.

Depending on how well you perform and your goal, this program can have you running your goal distance before your 5K, 10K or half marathon race. The longest run of your half marathon plan will be 120 minutes.

Coach Amy

Amy provides you with 4 to 5 workouts per week. Her training runs are based on distance. Coach Amy’s focus is injury prevention through crosstraining, that might involve some strengthening or mobility exercises in addition to the running part of the plan. This workouts will be introduced through videos and are a recommended, but not mandatory, part of the plan.

The plan starts with gradually increasing the distance of your runs. Specific workouts to build speed, endurance and the ability to run while tired will be introduced as you progress through the plan.

  • Tempo run, 1 mile intervals at fast pace followed by a jog break.
  • Goal pace repeats, intervals at goal pace that increase in speed and decrease in recovery time while you progress in your plan.
  • Speed repeats, short intervals at a pace slightly faster as goal pace, increasing in duration as your training progresses while the recovery period stays the same.
  • Steady state run, long run increasing in distance with a large goal pace segment.
  • Negative splits, long run increasing in speed in multiple segments.
  • Easy run, short or long run intended to add mileage and endurance.
  • Tired run, short or longer run with no pace goal to get your legs used to running on tired legs. Only shows up on the half marathon plan.
  • Hill repeats, short intervals up a hill to build strength and to help you tackle the hills on your race course.
  • Superset workout, to teach your body to run at goal pace when fatigued. It starts with a 200 meter sprint, 600 meter at fast pace and ends with 1 mile at goal pace. As your training progresses, repeated sets are possible.
  • Time trials, to check your current level of fitness at any given point during training. This data will be used to calculate your personalized training paces. Run hard, but at a pace you can maintain for the duration of the trial.

Depending on how well you perform and your goal this program can have you running your goal distance before the race.

Coach Jeff

Jeff will have you doing 3 workouts per week. The Galloway Method or Run-Walk-Run is a well known technique that uses walk breaks to improve performance. As expected this method of training and running is an important part of Coach Jeff’s training plan. You can follow the plan without using the run-walk-run method, but that’s not how the plan is intended.

It’s also important to realize that the run-walk-run segments aren’t actually supported by alerts in the training plan. Even if your watch supports run/walk alerts or any type of alerts, these alerts are all turned off automatically during the Garmin Coach training. You’ll need to keep track of when to run and when to walk yourself, either with an interval app on your phone or through an external device such as the Gymboss (affiliate link, read more in the Affiliate Disclaimer).

  • Speed workouts, intended to push your pace for a set distance.
  • Hill workouts, to improve strength while learning efficient hill running technique. Find a hill with a gentle grade. Short uphill intervals, followed by a downhill run and a walk recovery. Focus on your stride and running form. The number of hill repeats increase while you advance in the training plan.
  • Cadence drills focus on proper form, to help you run smoother and injury free. This workout is focused on cadence and aimed at getting your legs used to moving at a quicker pace. The plan will repeat this workout several times with increasing cadence goals.
  • Acceleration glider drills, teach you how to transition smoothly between running and walking while maintaining your speed form components at highest level. Seamlessly move from a walk into a run and glide back into another walk break.
  • Magic Mile or Magic Half-Mile, a time trial used to predict your running pace at longer distances. You start with a warm-up and some drills after which you run hard, but at a pace you can maintain for a (half) mile.
  • Long run, intended to increase endurance and meant to be done using a run/walk ratio that is a bit slower as your goal pace.
  • Goal pace run, similar to the long runs as the distance of these workouts increase, but you should run these at your race goal’s run/walk ratio.
With Coach Jeff you’ll be doing 3 workouts a week of which 2 of them will be relatively short. Keep in mind that the long runs can become very long, very early. You are likely to be covering the race distance or more before your race, even with the half marathon plan.

Which Garmin Coach do you choose?

Which coach will work best for you will come down to personal preference, the amount of workouts you’re able to do per week and how long you want your training plan to be. Read the above, watch the introduction video’s provided by Garmin and make your choice. Your choice is not definitive, you can change your coach throughout your training plan if you need to.

Whatever coach you choose, listen closely to your body and while you should trust to process and the training plan, keep in mind that this is just a tool to help you reach your goal. You have to do it on your own and you should always keep listening to your body. 

For more information on Garmin Coach, check out these links below: 

38 thoughts on “Garmin Coach – Which Coach do you choose?”

  1. I am currently trying out Greg’s coaching plan for Halv marathon. I put in a fictional race by the beginning of April, with a time goal, and on my week 6 I am so far satisfied with the challenges! I suppose it will get more difficult as I go along, but I’ll take it for what it is 🙂 Thank you for a very good and nice blog! /A frequent reader.

  2. I did a steady pace run yesterday, hit the time needed easily, yet got the feedback ‘room to grow’, when all mother runs were good job! What does the room to grow feedback mean?

    1. Hi Dawn! Hard to say, normally it gives you that feedback when you didn’t hit the target pace. Maybe it didn’t register properly, you accidentally pressed the lap button. Treadmill runs done without a foot pod also often give you “Room to grow”. If you ran it right, don’t worry about it and continue with the plan. The training is done!

  3. Hi, I have a hill repeat session tomorrow in my 10km plan (week 3), but it doesn’t say how long the hill should be? Is it 100m, 200m, or more??

    1. Hi Fiona! That can be different for different coaches. Does it have a time indication instead of distance? You could use that as guidance. There might also be more information in the videos or articles provided in Garmin Coach.

  4. Christina Stritzinger

    Mine usually gives me a time to run for – and the rest/recovery time is recommended to be downhill anyway, so I found that what works best is a long grade (like an exit-ramp type length) where you can keep going for a couple minutes. At my local park, there’s a long path up to the parking lot that I use. Using the same hill really shows you your progress and increases in strength too (you’ll get farther “up” the hill you’ve been using, which is a great confidence booster).

  5. Hi there. This year i was back to running after 3 years during which i had injuries (calf) and last year I had plantar fasciitis. I was never good aerobically, so i decided to start with the shortest distance (5K) to prevent fascitis from coming back.

    I chose coach Greg, and it worked very well. My first 12 weeks I improved greatly and managed to beat my target time by 1:30 minute. I even lost 5 kg in the process.
    Then I decided to have another 12 wk with coach Greg, and chose a target time 2 minutes faster.
    I think that when setting up the program I probably didn’t chose the right average pace, because all the “easy runs” my HR was higher than I expected, and not all of them felt that easy, while not taxing anyway.

    Today I run the 5K, and it was worse than the previous.

    That highlights the importance of chosing an adequate “average pace”. Which is not easy, in part, because Garmin does not explain what it really is.
    Regards

  6. Hi, I’ve just signed up to the Garmin Coach programme and keen to see where it takes me! Am I missing something as I can’t see anywhere on the app that lists the total length of a workout? I could add up each segment but thinking that the total time must be easily accessible? Really need this to help plan when to fit in runs?

    1. Hi Karen! Some coaches mention the total distance, some the total time and when a workout is both distance and time based, it won’t tell you anything. It’s definitely a point that could be improved in my opinion. Good luck with your training plan!

  7. I have used Jeff’s 5 and 10K plans, last year I tried Amy’s half marathon I took over 20 minutes off my time with her plan. I just started Amy’s half marathon plan with a two-hour time gold. We’ll see how it goes. I am only into it three weeks so far so good.

  8. I am using Amy’s HM plan. Not convinced by the tired run taking place after a rest day and just before speed repeats day. Some guidance on pace for tired run would be helpful as my legs are not tired after a rest day. I decided to do the tired run after the long run day and have a rest day before speed repeats. Makes more sense to me and the speed repeats are easier to achieve.

    1. Hi Tim! I agree, the tired run should be directly after the long run to be most effective. I think it should be renamed to just recovery run, as that’s what it is to me. You solved it well!

  9. Hi, thanks for a real good summary on this topic. I am happy that I find it after a long time googling:-)

    I am running with Jeffs 10k plan, now in the 12th week. The plan become brutal in this stage. The Speed Repeats are up to 18x800m and Long Easy Run at 24 km. So I don’t really agree with “you’ll be doing 3 workouts a week of which 2 of them will be relatively short”. That is a very hard and long training for 10k. Next week it will be 20x800m for the Speed Repeats and it is a real challenge to find time to do that in a weekday. But as I have been following the plan very exactly so far, I will give it a try and finish it whatever it happens in the last three weeks.

    Have you gone through all workouts in Jeffs plan? I am a bit worrying about if it will really help. As I can’t see that I have improved my speed. The 800m at 4.11min/km pace feels still the same as in the begining. The endurance must be better now. Would it come work out on longer intervals than 800m in the last weeks? The 800m interval is always followed with a 3min walking, that is some thing I never did before I started with Jeffs plan. At this stage I would rather prefer to have 2, 3 and 5km interval instead of 800m.

    What do you think?

    1. Hi Hasse! I think you are right and I think I need to change that about the two short runs. I’ve read more people say that it can be two really long runs. Honestly, I haven’t done any of Jeff’s plans. I’ve done a few with Greg and am currently on an HM plan with Amy. I do know many people have had great success with his plans through the Garmin Coach Runners Community on Facebook. It seems that Jeff knows what he’s doing. I would suggest to trust the plan and see where it brings you! Good luck on your last weeks and please come back to share your experience!

  10. I tried Coach Amy’s 1/2 plan but it seems to increase the mileage too quickly. My long runs were 6, 8, 6, 8, 10. I feel a 2 mile increase is risking injury and 4 miles in 2 weeks is fast. Anyone else experience this? I’m thinking of starting over and trying Greg.

    1. Hi Paul! If the build up is too fast, I recommend switching to a completion goal. That way you’ll slowly build up to your distance goal. The plan assumes you can already comfortable run the distance you are training for when you select a time goal, that’s why the build up is so fast. It works the same way for each coach.

  11. I do triathlon training so although I can’t swim right now due to covid I still need to work in time for cycling and gym. I’m working at improving my 10km pace for now so I started Greg’s plan but I’m struggling to do multiple speed sessions in a week and still have energy for my other sports. Would you recommend Amy’s instead? Is her cross-training pre-set or can you choose?
    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Nicky, the cross-training with Coach Amy are just videos that show you exercises and you are encouraged to do them. It’s not a planned workout. I can imagine Greg’s speedwork might be too much with other activities, Amy usually gives me only one speed workout per week. Give it a try!

  12. I’m a week into Coach Amy’s HM plan and I’ve got two questions…
    1. Is there a way you can see the rough plan for the whole training plan? Or do you just know that you’ve got 4 workouts week to week? Is there even a way to find out how long roughly each workout will take in advance? It’s annoying not being able to plan your time…
    2. Does the plan incorporate cross-training/strength exercises? I’m thinking about supplementing in some of my own but I’m also trying to follow her advice with rest days. These are some of the workouts I’m thinking of adding in: https://www.runnersworldonline.com.au/9-essential-weight-training-exercises-runners/ and https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20805692/10-essential-strength-exercises-for-runners/

    This is a great article though! Thanks!
    Emma

    1. Hi Emma,

      1. No, unfortunately there isn’t. You can roughly expect the speed repeats to increase in sessions and duration and the long run will of course increase as well. Amy’s plan is distance based and therefore you don’t see the expected duration (that is a miss in my opinion). Coach Greg’s plan is time based, so there you do see the expected duration, but not the expected distance.
      2. Amy has a few suggestions for additional exercises that will come up as videos. But, extra strength training is definitely still a good idea!

  13. Hi, first time half-marathon runner, I just started Coach Jeff`s plan, I am in week 2 of 17 (to Completion), I am enjoying his program so far, but I could already run a 4 to 5k without stopping, so I`m finding the first few runs easy – yes, I know they will get harder. My question is, should I force myself into the run/walk pace on the “Drill workout” even though I don’t need the walks? The Drill Workouts have a 10 min warmup (which I jog light), then “Other – Lap Button Press” which is just time for me to run/jog/walk any amount of time – so I usually run for another 10 minutes then press the Lap Button on my watch, which starts the Cadence Drill (30 sec run / 30 sec recovery (repeat X3) – which I do as required). Next is another “Other Lap Button Press” which I use to jog again for another 10 minutes (today I did 15 min, it was a nice day), then is my next drill – Acceleration Glider Drill which is three AG 30 second runs (up down) – which I also do as required. Then the last part is a 10 minute cool down, which again, I just jog lightly.

    I’m not sure what I should be doing during the “Other – Lap Button Press” drills, I am basically just jogging at the same pace for the warm up, the Other’s, and the Cool down with some drills in the middle. Is that right? When is the run/walk part? Thanks for any help at all!!! I don’t want to burn out, I know longer and harder distances are coming. Kelly

    1. Hi Kelly! If you haven’t already, please join the Garmin Coach Runner’s Community on Facebook. I don’t have enough experience with Coach Jeff to help you out. I do know that the lap button press is just meant to make sure you’re ready for the next part and the indeed, longer distances are surely coming!

  14. Hi all,
    I have chosen the Jeff Galloway half marathon program and I am in week 8 (from 18).

    Is it “normal” that 2 out of 3 trainings in the week are cadance and glider exercices & that the total number of drills didn’t change (still series of 4 with 30 sec of walking (cadance) followed 4 series of glider)?

    Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge,

    Michaël

    1. Hi Michaël,
      I haven’t done a plan with Jeff myself, but from what I’ve gathered from the Garmin Coach Runner’s Community on Facebook is that it’s indeed 2 drill exercises and 1 long run. At least one of those drill exercises should increase though. You could try forcing a recalculation by pausing and resuming the plan.

  15. Hello,

    Yes, I have also found Jeff’s plan very repetitive. I was at week 6 and I’ve just quit and switched over to Amy’s plan. Here’s hoping it’s a bit more interesting.

  16. I’ve started Coach Greg’s 10k plan, did my benchmark run and the first Easy Run (30 mins with an optional extra 10 mins, which I did no problem), was told ‘good job’ for both, but I’ve just looked at next week’s runs and they’re all only 10 mins with an optional extra 10 mins! Have I done something wrong somewhere? Why is it going backwards?

    1. Hi Sophie, could just be fluctuations during the week, stick with it a little longer. Are you doing a completion plan or do you have a time goal? Build up will be slower with a completion goal.

  17. Thanks for the reply. Yes it’s a completion goal. I will stick with it – might just do longer runs anyway, feels hardly worth getting my trainers on just for 10 mins

  18. I’ve chosen coach Jeff since I know him personally and is the only plan with 3 trainings per week. I’m currently doing the HM plan, but still don’t understand why “Easy Runs” are so long; next Sunday the plan proposes me a whopping 30 Km. (!) easy run and I’m doubtful whether to run it completely or not. Moreover I do not understand why such a long distance for a Half Marathon plan.
    Nice blog, by the way! I’ll surf through it a little bit more 🙂
    Happy new (running) year

    1. Jeff’s long runs can get really long. Keep in mind though that Jeff’s plan is supposed to be done with his run-walk-run method. I personally wouldn’t do the 30k completely, cut it short wherever you need to.

  19. I am following the Garmin Coach 10K training with Amy but there are no hills where I live.
    How can I replace the hill training and by what?

  20. I did Amy’s 10km plan starting in April & surpassed my time goal by a lot! Plan was varied and interesting. To switch things around I tried Greg’s plan and I’m hating it. Super boring. Doesn’t have long enough runs to go beyond 10km. Finishing it today and for sure I’m running slower and less distance with less pleasure on his plan.

  21. I am following Amy’s 5k plan with a time goal and am a little confused by a couple of aspects. I’m now into week 5 and nothing has changed at all – it’s beginning to get quite repetitive. Keep expecting next week to change and then am disappointed to find that I’m on the same workouts. I wonder if it’s because I haven’t completed them satisfactorily? I have been running for the past month on snow and ice so hopefully will get a lot faster now the thaw has come, but I still wouldn’t expect to be stuck in the same phase of training for so long, since I was getting a bit faster in spite of the snow.

    Also, one of the runs is listed as just ‘run continuously’ for 1.61m and I’ve never been sure what pace that recommends, because the others specify, goal pace, long run steady state and easy run. I tend to take it as a speed session and aim for goal race pace, but it seems so strange that this is not specified and that it’s the same distance as the ‘Tempo Run’. It has for the first time so far changed in next week’s session to a distance of 4.02 km which seems to suggest it’s not a speed session. How do you interpret to plain old ‘Run’ sessions?

    1. It’s normal for Amy’s plan to start up slow with mostly base building. I’ve only done Amy’s HM plan, that had a “Run” activity that was the long run, but did give a target pace. It also had a “Tired run” the day after the long run with the description “best effort on tired legs”, that can be confusing, but should be seen as a recovery run.
      I would guess you’d need to run the workout slow.

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