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Garmin Training Plans and Garmin Coach Explained

Nowadays there are few things that your Garmin watch can’t do. You can use it for tracking time and pace, heart rate, sleep – and you can use it for training plans!

If you’ve just gotten a Garmin watch (or you’ve been fiddling around with your watch more), we’ll tell you everything that you need to know about the Garmin Training Plans and Garmin Coach features.

What are Garmin’s Training Plans?

Garmin’s training plans are predesigned training programs that you can sync to your watch, allowing you to use it as a virtual coach. This means that you’ll have everything written out that you need to do for a run right on your wrist.

Garmin Connect Training Plans includes running, cycling, and triathlon plans. If you select a running plan, there can sometimes be non-run workouts, which will be displayed like a note in your Training Plans or Training Calendar section of your Garmin device.

As a runner, you can choose between a variety of different distance plans—5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon—as well as plans like “Getting Started” and “Improving Your Fitness” available in several different levels. Some are also heart-rate based so that you can personalize them.

If you’re training for a triathlon, they have two options—sprint triathlon and Olympic triathlon—available in two levels and heart-rate based and non-heart-rate based.

All the running plans are 12-16 weeks, including the 5k plan, which is likely too long for an intermediate or advanced runner, but you are unable to shorten them. The number of workouts per week range from 3 to 8.

These plans aren’t super personalized. Rather, it’s like seeing a plan online that you want to use and making it accessible on your watch so that it’s always there and you don’t have to write it down.

How Can Runners Access the Training Plans?

Although you can send a Garmin Connect Training Plan to your device after you select it, you won’t be able to browse them on your watch or even on your phone app. You have to log into the web-based Garmin Connect in order to see them.

To do this, sign into Garmin Connect on a web browser and select Training > Training Plans to see all the plans available. You can narrow options by plan type, distance, or level. Once you select a plan, you can input when you plan to start or when your race is.

After you’ve input that information, select Schedule and then send your training plan to a compatible device. You are able to edit your training plan if you need to change or remove the workout for that day.

Can Workouts be Uploaded to Your Garmin?

Yes, as I mentioned above, the workouts from the Garmin Connect Training Plan can be sent to compatible watches. You can also send and select specific workouts (or even design your own), which you can do either from the web-based Garmin Connect or the app on your phone.

If 12-16 weeks doesn’t work with your schedule, you can always take some of the components from the Garmin Connect Training Plan and make them into workouts manually that you can upload to your Garmin.

Many Garmin watches are compatible with Garmin Connect Training Plans and Workouts, but Garmin doesn’t have a complete list, recommending that you check your Owner’s Manual to be sure. If you have a newer watch, there’s a good chance that it’s compatible.

For example, I have a Garmin Forerunner 235 that isn’t compatible with Garmin Coach, but I am able to load workouts (pre-made or ones that I design) as well as the Garmin Connect Training Plan to my watch.

What is Garmin Coach?

Garmin Coach is similar to Garmin Connect Training Plans, but it is more personalized and adjusts based on how you’re training and what your goals are. Right now, you can select what your race goal is for a 5k, 10k, or half marathon.

Because the fastest pace is a 7:00 minute mile, Garmin Coach is not designed for advanced runners. Rather, it’s best for beginner to intermediate. It even has a run/walk option. If you’re performing well, your plan will give your harder workouts, and it will adjust if you miss a workout.

You’ll select a particular coach—Jeff Galloway, Amy Parkerson-Mitchell, and Greg McMillan—and you’ll get a plan of 6-20 weeks. Each coach approaches the workouts slightly differently, and you’ll get videos and running tips from your particular coach throughout the plan.

For Garmin Coach, you can set up and sync your plan to a compatible watch either through the Garmin Connect app or the web-based Garmin Connect by selecting Training > Training Plans > Garmin Coach plan > Set Up Plan. Once you’re done, sync your device.

Each week, you’ll be able to see what your coach has planned for you, but you won’t be able to see what you’re doing in the upcoming weeks because the plan adapts based on your performance.

As you use the watch for your workouts, the device will buzz when you need to advance to the next stage. Each run is divided into a warm-up, run, and cool down, so your watch is always reminding you to practice good running habits.

Every time you open the Garmin Coach page on your app, you’ll see a picture of your coach, how many weeks you have left in your page, and a confidence level that has four colors: red, orange, green, and purple. If you get in that last category, you’re exceeding expectations!

You are able to switch coaches in the middle of your training plan if you feel like the one you selected isn’t working for you. It just might switch things up a bit because each plan has its own focus and build up.

The following watches are compatible with Garmin Coach:

  • Captain Marvel
  • Darth Vader
  • Descent MK1
  • fenix 5 Series
  • fenix 5 Plus Series
  • fenix 6 Series
  • fenix Chronos
  • First Avenger
  • Forerunner 45/45S
  • Forerunner 245 series
  • Forerunner 645 series
  • Forerunner 935
  • Forerunner 945
  • Instinct series
  • MARQ Series
  • Rey
  • tactix Delta
  • Venu
  • vívoactive 3 series
  • vivoactive 4/4S

How Much Do These Training Plans Cost?

What’s great about the Garmin Connect Training Plans and Garmin Coach is that they are completely free. If you don’t have extra money to be able to hire a coach, but you want some assistance in coming up with a training plan, this is a great place to start.

The other amazing thing is that you can sync the workouts directly to your watch and they will remind you throughout the workout of when you need to speed up or advance to the next stage. It isn’t quite as effective as having a human coach, but it is definitely the next best thing.

You might also want to check out the Garmin Coach Community if you’re on Facebook if you have more questions about how it works or what to connect with people who have used it and see what suggestions they have.

The Wired Runner