If you’ve been paying attention to anything I’ve been saying for the past year, you know that I’ve really embraced the idea of 80/20 Running.
If you’re not familiar with running 80/20, it’s really pretty simple:
- 80% of your training volume should be easy
- 20% of your training volume should be moderate/hard
Like I said, simple right?
The Devil, as Always, is In the Details
Determining “easy” can be a bit tricky, and the success of implementation of the 80/20 running philosophy hinges on having pretty good idea of what easy running is.
On the surface, it shouldn’t be that difficult. You’re either running at an effort that feels easy or you’re not, right?
If you’re like many runners, and I was certainly in this camp for the first 4+ years of my running “career”, you probably do your easy runs too hard and your hard runs too easy.
And that means that what feels like an easy pace to you, if we look objectively at your “stats”, is probably harder than it should be.
So learning to slow down a bit and becoming comfortable running easy is the first step to finding success with running 80/20.
My Year of Running 80/20
What have I learned after a year of running 80/20?
A few things. Such as:
Patience is a Virtue
If you want to improve as a runner, by pretty much any measurable metric, I believe that 80/20 running will help you.
That said, running 80/20 isn’t a miracle cure for your running ails.
In all honesty, I believe that I’m only now starting to see the impact of all of the easy running that I’ve done over the past year. And I don’t think I’ll see the true fruits of this training style for another 2-3 years.
If you’re looking for instant “gratification” by switching to an 80/20 running style you’re going to be disappointed.
The 20 is Really Important
Admittedly, I’ve talked a lot in the past year about the importance of easy running.
Running easy, most of the time, is really important.
You know what else is important? Dropping the fucking hammer the other 20% of the time!
If you aren’t hammering your hard efforts, you are limiting the effectiveness of your training.
If you’re running quarter mile repeats, which are admittedly one of my least favorite workouts, your legs better be Jello when the last repeat is finished.
For your last tempo mile, your lungs need to be on fire and your heart needs to be pounding.
When you’re supposed to be working hard you better be working hard.
The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
Keeping track of your ratios of easy and hard running is important, but don’t worry about getting bogged down in the data.
I monitor my weekly ratio and my year to date ratio, and the latter is much more important the former.
On any given week, my percentages have varied. I’ve had weeks where 100% of my running has been easy. On the flip side, I’ve had one week where I only spent 66% of my training time in the easy zone and many weeks where I’ve been in the mid-70s.
But overall, since the second week of January, the running total of my training intensity has been 77-84% easy.
I’ll be curious to see what my running total percentages are after 2 years, but I would be shocked if they are outside of the range that already seems to be firmly established.
Will I have weeks outside of that range? Absolutely. But running 80/20 is about the big picture, and after a year I’m about as close to spot on as one could hope to be.
Ready to Try Running 80/20?
If you’re on the fence about running 80/20, I’d definitely encourage you to give it a shot.
It’s an adjustment, but in my experience I think that the adjustment is beyond worth it. And I honestly can’t wait to see what my running looks like after another year of running 80/20.
If you’d like to learn a little bit more about some of the science behind the benefits of running 80/20, check out my interview with Matt Fitzgerald from last year and/or get the book and give it a read.
And if you have any questions about 80/20 running that you think I can answer, just leave a comment down below and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction!
Have You Tried 80/20 Running or Heart Rate Training Before? What Are Your Thoughts?
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