Installing Garmin marathon training plans: Your easy guide

Training for a marathon? Luckily you’ve got your trusty Garmin watch to help you along the way. In this article we detail how to install a Garmin Running Marathon plan. It turns out it is not as simple as it could be.

Training for a marathon is a serious undertaking, requiring dedication and months of consistent effort. The ability to complete 26.2 miles is a huge accomplishment that showcases physical and mental strength. Having a training plan helps you get ready the right way and reach your goal.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets

The good news is that Garmin has something called Adaptive Training Plans as part of the Garmin Coach feature. The “adaptive” bit refers to the fact that these training plans adjust themselves to your ability – as you train.

You can find them by opening Garmin Connect and navigating to the Training & Planning section, then selecting Training Plans > Running. Introduced in 2018, these plans currently focus on 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon race distances. And that’s the bad news – there’s no Marathon option.

Garmin Coach wants to guide you to your first 5K

Setting up a Garmin Coach plan is straightforward. After choosing the distance, you’ll need to specify your training style – run only, run/walk combo, or run with a time goal. Then, you’ll indicate your preferred weekly running distance range and provide your average running pace. And finally decide which coach’s training plan you will choose. For example, if you are doing a 5K you can choose between Jeff Galloway (Olympian and best-selling author), Greg McMillan (physiologist and online running coach) and Amy Parkerson-Mitchell (physical therapist and running expert).

Garmin Coach wants to guide you to your first 5K

How to install a full marathon training plan on your Garmin watch

Garmin does offer marathon training plans, but you need to know where to look for them. These plans can help you make steady progress with varied workouts. While they’re not as feature-rich as the shorter distance plans (and they don’t adapt like Garmin Coach plans), they’ll still sync to your watch and provide structured workouts.

But don’t look for these marathon plans in the Garmin Connect app. They are not there. You’ll need to access them through the Garmin Connect web dashboard.

Open up the Training & Planning section and tap on Training Plans. Choose running and you’ll notice the Garmin Coach Plans. Scroll below that and you’ll get a long list of, what Garmin calls, Self-Guided Plans.

Garmin offers several marathon training plans within that category. They are categorized as Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Choose the plan that best suits your fitness level.

Garmin marathon training plan

All plans span 16 weeks (roughly 4 months), providing ample time to prepare for your race. The plans also differ in the number of weekly workouts. Once you’ve selected and set up your plan, it will automatically sync to your watch.

Garmin marathon training plan

It’s important to remember that Garmin’s marathon plans are not adaptive. This means you’ll receive the full plan upfront and need to follow it independently. Unlike Coach plans, they won’t adjust if you miss workouts or exceed expectations. So if you find your fitness improving, you’ll need to manually adjust your pace to increase the challenge within the marathon plan.

Some users prefer alternative solutions. You could design a custom plan on Training Peaks and sync it to your Garmin calendar for a similar effect. Another option is adding a marathon race to your Garmin calendar as your main event. This will trigger daily workout suggestions, though the quality and structure of these suggestions may be less reliable than dedicated plans.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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