Garmin Connect Training Plans
Our coaching team put the training plans together that are show on Garmin Connect.
We answer some common questions asked about the plans here, explain our coaching philosophy and provide further reading so you can make the most of your training.
Our purpose is to inspire and educate runners of all abilities to believe and enjoy their training. We provide various levels of support to enable athletes to train smarter and more efficiently. Our training plans have been developed from years of experience, beginning with our founder, Keith Anderson training and racing at an elite level, and refining his training through research and results. Our plans are always developing but we stick to our core principle of making the plans effective and enjoyable for the runners following them.
There are thousands of training plans out there, some are great, others not so good, but there isn’t a one size fits all model. Each athlete is different and will respond to different training sessions in different ways at different rates.
Good endurance running is all about consistent training, running well week on week. A lot of runners become frustrated with their training because they focus on the wrong numbers. To avoid this, run to effort level (or heart rate zone) and time not distance.
When considering effort level over pace, it’s important to understand how you feel when you’re running. A lack of this understanding is why many people race poorly and don’t get the best race performance.
Pace and performance on any given day will be affected by so many factors, some within and some out of your control. Here are a few; terrain, hills, hydration levels, sleep, weather, altitude, energy levels and fatigue from training. All of these factors and others can affect you and, if you’re particularly unlucky, all of these factors could affect you at the same time. Instead of slogging yourself to hit a specific pace, and running too hard, we suggest running to perceived effort or to specific heart rate zones, if you know them (but don’t worry about that too much at the moment!)
If you train too hard you are more likely to injure yourself, by pushing your body too hard.
Running to time rather than distance allows us to control your training volume. It also takes away that focus on how many miles you are doing a week (which is an incredibly arbitrary figure) and encourages you to focus on the quality of your training. A 10k run has a world of difference in meaning for a 32 minute 10k runner, compared to a 70 minute 10k runner. We want you to be training for an effective amount of time for your ability level and your goal.
Within the Garmin plans there are HR plans and no HR plans. The difference is that the HR plans set you zones to run in, and the watch beeps at you if you are outside this zone.
This is great but you need accurate HR data to make this work, otherwise you are running to the wrong effort level. Using 220 - age or anything similar to work out your maximum heart rate is reliable and will only be accurate for a small percentage of the population. We have an article here about how to set your own training zones, and also one here on the importance of Heart Rate Training. We do offer a lactate threshold testing service in London for those interested. Newer Garmin models have a lactate threshold feature on them, which will tell you your lactate threshold heart rate zone and you can work your training zones out with them. We are waiting to see more validation on them before commenting any further.
There are many ways to work out your heart rate `ones, using %Max HR, %HRR (Heart Rate Reserve) or %LT (Lactate Threshold). This is discussed in more detail in this article.
To make sure you are running to the right effort levels we have developed a Talk Test
Garmin Connect Training Plan FAQ's
What happens if there are two runs scheduled for one day?
On the more advanced plans, you will see two runs planned. You can do these runs in any order you like. One is a recovery / easy run and the other will be one of your key sessions for the week. If you can't do both runs, prioritise the key session.
Are there any errors with the plans?
There have been a few errors that have been highlighted to us about the plans. We are unfortunately unable to make any changes to the plans on the Garmin website but do drop us a line if you aren't sure what is meant to be in the plan.
What are the right Heart Rate Zones for me?
What is Zone 1?
Zone 1 is your Warm Up / Recovery Zone. You can speak in complete sentences, almost as if you arent running! You should feel better at the end of this effort level than you do at the beginning.
What is Zone 2?
This is your easy running zone. You can speak in complete sentences, totally conversational, you’re running relaxed, enjoying it and not worrying about the watch
What is Zone 3?
Zone 3 is your steady effort level running zone. You can speak in short sentences but have a slight pause on your breath. It does play an important part of marathon training, but this can be ‘no man’s land’ in training terms if this is all you do.
What is Zone 4?
Zone 4 is your threshold running zone, the holy grail of endurance running! You could speak 4-5 words if somebody asked you a question. Your breathing is more laboured and you know you’re working, we call this ‘controlled discomfort’
What is Zone 5?
Zone 5 is your speedwork zone. Efforts ranging from 10km to 5km and above. You can say only 2-3 words maximum and are out of breath but still know that you could do more if you had to.
Can I move sessions around to fit my schedule?
Yes you can. Just make sure you aren’t doing two key sessions back to back (unless the 2nd one is a long run). The other sessions in the week are the supplementary ones, if you can do them excellent but if not they are the ones to miss. Try not to cram four hard days of training into the back end of your week either, as this is a recipe for over training.
Which plan level is right for me?
It really depends on you as an athlete. We suggest looking through the plan, and if week 1 looks like a big jump from where you are currently, select a plan with an easier starting point! You can always do a harder plan next time round. Harder isnt better with endurance training, and you'd be better off doing all of the Beginner Plan, than half of the Intermediate.
What is cross training?
Cross training is any activity that isn't running that still gets the heart and lungs working. There is some explanation on cross training here.