Understanding the 80/20 Rule in Running

As a runner, you’ve probably heard of the 80/20 rule, sometimes referred to as the Pareto Principle. It’s a simple concept that can significantly impact your training and performance. In essence, the rule suggests that 80% of your total training volume should be at a low intensity, while the remaining 20% can be at a high intensity.

The Science Behind the 80/20 Rule

Research backs up the idea that the majority of your training should be done at a low intensity. Studies show that consistently running at a high intensity can lead to burnout, injury, and decreased performance. On the other hand, incorporating low-intensity runs allows your body to recover and adapt, leading to better endurance and overall fitness.

Applying the 80/20 Rule to Your Training

To apply the 80/20 rule to your training, start by tracking your workouts and analyzing the intensity of each one. Aim to keep 80% of your total training volume at a low intensity, which can be measured by keeping your heart rate at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. The remaining 20% can consist of high-intensity workouts, such as interval training or hill repeats.

Benefits of the 80/20 Rule

By following the 80/20 rule, you can experience several benefits, such as improved endurance and overall fitness, decreased risk of injury, and reduced burnout, among others. Additionally, it can help you avoid the common mistake of doing too much high-intensity training, which can lead to fatigue and injury.

Real Examples of the 80/20 Rule in Practice

Professional runners, such as three-time Boston Marathon champion and Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi, follow the 80/20 rule in their training. Keflezighi has spoken about the importance of incorporating low-intensity runs into his routine to improve his overall fitness and prevent injury.

Comparing Training Intensity Distribution in Elite Runners

A study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance analyzed the training intensity distribution of elite runners during a 10-week training period. The results showed that the runners spent an average of 79% of their total training time at a low intensity, compared to 13% at a moderate intensity and 8% at a high intensity.

Tools to Help Implement the 80/20 Rule

Several training apps and devices can help you implement the 80/20 rule in your training. For example, the Polar Beat app can track your runs and provide feedback on your heart rate zones, making it easy to stay within the low-intensity range. Additionally, heart rate monitors such as the Garmin Forerunner 945 can provide real-time feedback on your heart rate, helping you stay on track during your runs.

Final Thoughts

The 80/20 rule may seem like a simple concept, but it can have significant impacts on your training and performance. By incorporating more low-intensity runs into your routine and limiting high-intensity workouts, you can improve your endurance, prevent injury, and achieve better overall fitness. Give the rule a try and see the difference it can make in your running journey.