Several years ago I got an idea for a book called A High-Mileage Manifesto. The title pretty much says it all: It was intended to be a hard sell for high-volume run training and an antidote to things like CrossFit Endurance and Run Less, Run Faster, which were leading so many athletes down the wrong path at the time.
I come up with a lot of book ideas that I never take beyond the conceptual stage, but this one was an exception. After a brief gestational period, I fully committed to making A High-Mileage Manifesto my next published book after The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition, sitting down and scribbling out a chapter outline and then writing a proposal and sample chapters to shop around to publishers. Soon, however, I got stuck. Something just wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was on the verge of scrapping the whole project when it hit me: I had it backwards. Instead of telling runners, “You need to run a lot, but in order to make that work, you’ll need to slow down,” what I really needed to tell them was, “You need to slow down, and if you do, one of the benefits you’ll discover is that you’re able to run more.” And thus A High-Mileage Manifesto became 80/20 Running.
The most successful runners run a lot and they do most of their running at low intensity, but it’s the mostly-low-intensity part that has to come first. Once I got that straight in my head, the book practically wrote itself. This was no guarantee that its message would be well-received, but I’m happy to say it was. Since its 2014 publication, more than 50,000 copies of the print, electronic, and audio versions of 80/20 Running have been sold. Online versions of the plans in the book have also been hot sellers, and there are thriving 80/20 Running Facebook and Strava groups.
Very soon after the book’s release, I began to hear from triathletes expressing interest in a triathlon-specific spin on the 80/20 concept, which applies to all endurance disciplines. Although I recognized the value in a sequel, I was in no hurry to write it, as I had a backlog of other ideas (two of which became How Bad Do You Want It? and The Endurance Diet). In the end I decided that if I was ever going to satisfy triathlon fans of 80/20, I would need to enlist some help, so I asked David Warden, who had already developed a suite of online 80/20 triathlon training plans on my behalf, to coauthor 80/20 Triathlon with me.
There aren’t many people I can partner with successfully on any sort of writing project. I like to be in control, and I have high standards. But David was the perfect pick. He is disciplined and conscientious and has a sharp analytical mind, a great work ethic, and a wicked sense of humor. The last thing I wanted 80/20 Triathlon to be was a find-and-replace version of the original, with “running” substituted for “triathlon” and everything else the same. Thanks in large measure to David’s contributions, I got my wish. While the underlying philosophy is the same, of course, 80/20 Triathlon is a very different book, and I’m proud of it.
It’s been a long time since a seminal triathlon training book was published, and I truly believe 80/20 Triathlon can be just that. There are two reasons for this. One is that the 80/20 method really works, and works better than any other way of training for the sport. Beyond all the scientific proof, David and I know from experience that the 80/20 method is superior to every alternative because hundreds of triathletes have already put the method to the test with our online 80/20 Triathlon training plans, and almost every day we get feedback like the following from Cathy Berry, who recently used one of our plans to win the women’s 45-49 age group at Ironman UK:
“I can’t recommend Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 Triathlon training plans highly enough. I have qualified for the Ironman World Championships both times I have followed his plan. Like many triathletes, I juggle work, family, and training; and although I wasn’t always able to follow it religiously, by adopting the 80/20 training approach and the accompanying strength plans I was able to put in a great performance on race day.”
Here’s a breakdown of the contents of 80/20 Triathlon:
The book’s foreword was written by none other than Stephen Seiler, PhD, the discoverer of the 80/20 Rule of endurance training. We couldn’t have asked for a stronger validation of our offering!
Chapter 1: The Most Effective Way to Train
The 80/20 concept is introduced.
Chapter 2: Going Slower to Get Faster
We present eight common barriers to training the 80/20 way and explain how to overcome them.
Chapter 3: The Science of 80/20 Training
In this chapter David and I share some of the science demonstrating the superiority of the 80/20 approach to the various alternatives and explain why 80/20 works better.
These three chapters get down to brass tacks, showing how to apply the 80/20 Rule to swim, bike, and run training.
Chapter 7: Strength, Flexibility, and Mobility Training
Although the 80/20 Rule does not apply to non-endurance training modalities, no triathlon training guide would be complete without a thorough treatment of strength, flexibility, and mobility training.
Chapter 8: Getting Started with 80/20 Training
This chapter walks the reader step by step through the process of creating a fully customized 80/20 triathlon training plan.
Don’t feel like creating your own training plan? We’ve got you covered with these five chapters, which present a selection of 17 training plans for all race distances and fitness levels.
Chapter 14: Race Day
The book’s concluding chapter offers tips on triathlon pacing, or the art of getting from the start line to the finish line in the least amount of time possible.
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