2 weeks later

In my last post I noted that I was going to try to follow the suggested workouts that the Garmin ‘algorithm’ created in order to propel my fitness level forward from where it was languishing at the end of May 2024. That’s the hope anyway.

With no plan to run any races any time soon the brief is actually quite straightforward. What I am liking about it is that it’s giving me an external goal outside of anything major. And as it is set up based on set paces, in many ways it gamifies the training such that I actually do what I’m supposed to do, rather than running to what feels ‘normal’ and generally just red-lining every session because my body is unfit and my brain is too stubborn to realise.

The other useful aspect of these set runs is that instead of me going out 3 times a week and pushing myself to do 20+ miles at effort, it’s actually getting me out for a small amount most days.

Which has been fine for the first two weeks as, due to work commitments, I’ve not been available to lead most of the group runs I would usually do, which wouldn’t fit into the Garmin plan. Hereon in, that won’t be the case so it will be an interesting experiment to see how adaptable the system is.

During week 1 I ran six out of the seven days totalling 24.3 miles. All were adjusted* to be base runs, although most ended up being recorded as tempo runs based on my heart rate, even though on the whole I was sticking within the pace boundary it requested. Admittedly the first run I was trying to run at the top end of the pace window before waking up and concentrating on slow running, which doesn’t come naturally (my default pace is definitely faster and regularly needs reining in).

Aside from a random Garmin issue where it forgot what my training status was for reasons known only to Garmin, it reported on the whole that my fitness was improving and even increased my VO2max figure to 54 (although I suspect the 53 might have been a blip due to not having run that much in the month prior to starting this due to the foot problems).

My favourite run was on the day when Garmin had a brain-fart and refused to serve up my run (how ironic it was my favourite). I managed to do a 5km recovery run, keeping my heart rate at the bottom end of Z2 range. It was fun because it was a totally different challenge I’d set for myself, and I achieved it. I may try to repeat this every few weeks to see if the pace is improving for the same HR effort.

* there was a speed session initially included but Garmin decided my sleep the night before hadn’t been good enough so it downgraded the run to be a base session instead.

During week 2 I ran 22.5 miles over 5 days as Garmin insisted on 2 rest days. Over the week I felt I was getting better at nailing the mid-range of the pace, although bizarrely by the end of the week, despite it claiming my fitness was improving throughout, it adjusted my “estimated 5km time” to be slightly slower than it had estimated it previously. But it was a small change and given I’m not in a focused training plan for a 5km, I’m not concerned as the runs all felt good.

And my VO2max moved to 55. Whilst the increase of 4% in two weeks sounds amazing I think it’s just the technology catching up with where my body actually was, rather than them being real gains. I don’t believe we’ll be at 57 by the end of June, put it that way!!! But it’s still a win, and I’m taking all of those where I can!

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