The Running 80/20 Rule

There are many running coaches that follow the running 80/20 rule. The 80/20 rule says:

80% of your weekly training should be done at a low to moderate intensity and 20% at a moderate to high intensity.

So what does this mean and how do we incorporate this rule into our training?

By training the aerobic system, we are training the heart to be calm and steady, revving at a low, non-stressful pace. This in turn will improve the blood supply of the heart, increase the number and size of the energy power houses (called the mitochondria), and improve the overall strength and endurance of our large, working muscles.

By working on these low heart rate, “zone 2/3 runs”, we are building a reliable farm truck that can withstand the elements, terrain and load placed when working long hours.

This is a sample program I created for a female client:

Saturday: long run – 16-20 km @6:20-6:45 min/km

Monday: 30 minute recovery run @6 min/km

Wednesday: Quality speed run: 2 km warm up, 8 strides at 85% intensity, 2 km cool down

Thursday: 30 minute recovery run @6 min/km

Slowly and surely, her heart rate came down. Perfect. She was training her heart, lungs and muscles to be long lasting and efficient, setting a solid base for when she needed to train and race fast. By working with her heart rate and zone training and by following the 80/20 rule, she started to make huge performance gains getting her out of her running rut. She got faster and felt better.

Note: It takes time and patience to get that heart rate down. I do not suggest heart rate training within the first 2-3 years of running. Heart rate training is usually implemented when you have hit a training plateau or when you want to progress your race times and speed. If you are a new runner, do not worry about your heart rate. It will improve over time!

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