After learning more about running, and reading 80/20 Running, I’m a very firm believer in slowing things down in order to be a faster runner. I’m evening planning on applying the 80/20 methodology into my 12 week Calgary Half Marathon training plan (starting in March!).
With that, what’s the one big mistake most runners make?
Running too damn fast!
Especially during recovery runs and long runs.
You should not be running your long runs at your race pace. No, really. You shouldn’t.
With that said, let’s talk a bit about why that is.
In order for your body to run fast and do well on the runs where you should be running fast, you need to let your body recover. Constantly pushing your body to run at a quick pace doesn’t allow for healing and recovery. A lack of recovery and health will result in the following outcomes: burnout, injury, getting slower, or, all three.
I don’t think any runner wants to experience burnout or injury. I’ve experienced both over the past two years (not necessarily due to running too quickly) and they most certainly suck.
I highlighted a lot of passages in 80/20 Running because Matt Fitzgerald used studies and research to back the point of view of the book. (That said if you want the key training points, and the training plans, you’ll need to buy the book, because I’m not about to copy and paste the whole thing)
If the typical elite runner does four easy runs for every hard run, the average recreationally competitive runner—and odds are, you’re one of them—does just one easy run for every hard run. Simply put: Running too hard too often is the single most common and detrimental mistake in the sport.
(source: 80/20 Running)
Well, shoot. I mean, if the elites do it, there has to be a reason, right?! Even looking at Hollie’s training weeks, it’s easy to see she’s following an 80/20 approach to her runs as well.
The next logical question would be, how does one know at what pace to run?
Heart rate monitoring in particular is an effective tool for getting runners to slow down, while pace targets are better for getting runners to push themselves in the 20 percent of their workouts when they’re supposed to.
When runners are given a heart rate “ceiling” to stay below, they usually have no trouble respecting it. But when they are given a pace target, they often try to beat it.
(source: 80/20 Running)
In Chapter 6 of 80/20 Running Fitzgerald explains how to perform a talk test (while wearing a heart rate monitor) to determine your lactate threshold and extrapolate to your heart rate zones.
A more simplified approach is to take the MAF 180 formula.
Take 180 and subtract your age and then a) subtract 10 beats if you’re recovering from a significant illness or injury, b) subtract 5 beats if you’ve recently taken time off or are new to running, c) keep your number if you’ve been training regularly for 2 years, d) add 5 if you’ve been training consistently for 2 years without injury.
For me, this leaves me with 180-32=148 beats per minute. When I follow MAF I aim to stay in the range of 140-150, since the approach isn’t entirely precise.
Whatever approach you take to determining your heart rate, it’s important to run the majority of your runs at a lower intensity (thus, a slower speed) and the remainder of your runs at a harder intensity.
What if you were to run 70/30?
Honestly? Probably not a whole lot. The most important part is to ensure the majority of time on your feet is at a lower intensity.
Should you determine 80/20 by time or by distance?
I never fully understood why some training plans specified time instead of distance. Until…. I was at BlogFest and Jason Karp was talking about time vs distance and said the following:
Your legs have no concept of what a mile is.
Pace is not as important as time spent running.
Boom. Mind. Blown.
With that, you’ll want to structure your 80/20 plan based upon time. If you’re running a total of 5 hours a week, then 4 of those hours should be easy, and 1 of those hours should be harder.
In the middle of half marathon training, it might look like the following:
- Monday: Recovery
- Tuesday: easy 45 minutes
- Wednesday: tempo (hard) 30 minutes (with 15 minutes of warm up/cool down)
- Thursday: recovery 30 minutes
- Friday: Off
- Saturday: 45 minutes fartleks
- Sunday: 90-minute long run
You’ll see this isn’t precisely an 80/20 split, but the goal is to not run everything hard.
How do you approach your training? Do you think you’re running slow enough?
As a Calgary Marathon ForeRunner, I have been given an entry to participate in the 2016 race, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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