Over the holidays I read 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster By Training Slower, written by Matt Fitzgerald. The book was great, and confirmed something I had been suspecting for quite awhile: that I have been running most of my runs too fast. Yes, you read that right.
The whole premise of the book is that most of us are running (most) of our runs too fast, resulting in a poorly developed aerobic base. After some self-reflection, I knew I was guilty of this.
Fitzgerald recommends runners follow the “80/20 rule” where 80% of your runs are done at a low intensity and the remaining 20% is done at a moderate-to-high intensity.
The book gives detailed background on the history of 80/20 running, as well as a practical, no-nonsense explanation of how adhering to the 80/20 plan will improve your running. The most valuable part of the book for me was the portion on monitoring and controlling intensity—as well as the surplus of different running workouts for each “type” of run. This has allowed me the freedom to build my own plan while using the workouts from the book. I love that.
Over the past six weeks, I’ve tried to implement 80/20 running into my regimen and must admit, it was a bit challenging at first. My “slow” runs have been… slow! But something interesting is starting to happen, I’m able to get out there day after day without injury, and am feeling less “crushed” after my long runs—a run I now realize I used to run WAY too fast. The slower, more controlled runs also allow me to focus in more on my form, and keep me looking forward to “speed” days.
I need to stick with this for a few more months before revisiting and commenting further on the success of 80/20, but my initial feelings are that it’s working. I was able to put in 155 miles in January—a monthly mileage record for me—all while staying healthy, slowly progressing, and…most importantly…staying excited about that next run.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the 80/20 plan works out for me in 2016!