Garmin Coach Half Marathon Training Plan

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An ongoing description of my experience with the Garmin Coach Half Marathon plan by Jeff Gallloway.

Choosing and Setting up the Plan

Garmin Coach Plans are currently available for 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon. I chose a Half Marathon plan, coached by Jeff Galloway. Setting up the plan involves picking a target goal, choosing the number of workouts/week, available days for workouts, picking your preferred “long run” day, and possibly and target race or date. I set up the plan for a 2:00:00 time goal, 3 workouts/week, available every day but Monday, long run on Sunday, and a target race of the Outer Banks Half Marathon on November 9th.

Benchmark Run

Each of the programs apparently begin with a “Benchmark Run” that is used to set the parameters for the first week’s workouts. The baseline run for this program was a simple 9 minute run consisting of a 2 minute warm up, 5 minutes of “run hard”, and a 2 minute cool down. Even though the East Coast was in the midst of a sweltering heat wave, I figured even I could survive 9 minutes so I went out and did a rather moderate run with the 5 minute segment at about 9:00 min/mile.

Week 1

Based on the results of the Benchmark Run, the plan then created the 3 workouts for Week 1. Wednesday’s workout was called “Goal Pace Repeats” and consisted of a couple minutes of Cadence Drills and Acceleration/Glider Drills with the core of the workout being 5 times 800 meters at goal pace followed by a 3 minute recovery. Challenging, but not too bad. In addition to the “Run Walk Run” approach which is such an integral part of Jeff Galloway’s methodology, he incorporates these additional drills into many of the prescribed workouts as well.

Friday’s workout was Hill Repeats, again consisting of the same drills but with 4 hill repeats of 15 seconds up, 1 minute recovery, and 15 seconds down. Still in the midst of 100 degree heat wave, I did this workout on the treadmill which obviously doesn’t allow for any downhill work. Plus, coordinating the incline and pace for such short duration intervals will require a bit of practice.

As you would expect, the weekend gets your “Long Easy Run”. I was quite surprised to find a 7 mile run on the first week of a 17 week plan. Due to the continued heat (a heat index of 113 degrees), this was also done on the treadmill. Starting at the bottom of Zone 1, I ran the first 5 miles by increasing the pace by 0.1 mph every half mile. By about the 5 mile point, I was starting to hit Zone 3 so I took a short walk break, got the heart rate back down around 120, and restarted with a slightly more aggressive ramp up. At about 6.5 miles I took another short walk and then finished up the 7 miles with a slightly more aggressive ramp up.

In addition to the 3 prescribed workouts for the week, Garmin Connect will also throw in a few short videos from Jeff Galloway describing the technique and value of the various drills and some written material such as “Planning your Run Walk Run® Strategy”.

With week 1 completed, the plan then provides the workouts for the following week. Looks like there’s another “Goal Pace Repeats”, something called the “Magic Mile”, and another long run called “Run Walk Run®”.

Thanks for reading and check back for a recap of Week 2.

Take Two…

Life, or to be completely accurate, death got in the way and I had to bail out of the Jeff Galloway plan. Having spent most of the previous month living at the hospital supporting a very close friend who eventually succumbed to cancer, there were just too many skipped workouts. Although I eventually tried pausing and resuming the plan, I decided to just bail on this one and start up again once I was ready to get back in the training groove. Additionally, I was never particularly crazy about the Jeff Galloway plan so this would be an opportunity to switch to one of the other two coaches.

So, now it’s time to get my butt back in motion and see if I can be ready for one or two local half marathons this Fall. I’m registered for a local half marathon on November 17th as well as a 10K in late October. I chose the Greg McMillan plan which, at 13 weeks, still culminates a bit beyond my November race but should be close enough to be somewhat ready for the event. We’ll see.

As with all the plans, the first step is a Benchmark Run. I started the plan on a Wednesday, did the Benchmark Run, and it immediately scheduled runs for Thursday (40 minutes), Friday (30 minutes), and Sunday (1 hour, 20 minutes). These runs were labeled “Easy Runs”, were basically within Zone 1 and 2 and, unlike the Jeff Galloway workouts, were simple warm-up/run/cool-down workouts (no strides or cadence drills). Each workout did, however, include an optional interval at the end that was shown as “Lap if you want to end early or keep going if you’re feeling good.” that would add additional 10 to 20 minutes if desired.

The plan calls for 5 runs per week so we’ll see how the schedule looks next week. Stay tuned…

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