Best Training Cycle Ever | 80/20 Endurance

Best Training Cycle Ever

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    After missing 6 weeks from a foot injury, I started back to running on May 27. But this time, I’ve made a few adjustments to what I’ve done in the past. Inadvertently, I’ve stumbled into the best training cycle I’ve ever had. No injuries. Feeling better than ever. Aerobic stamina has never been this good. Just like the song says, “everything is awesome”!! In case this might help somebody, I figured I would share what I’ve done differently this time.

    1. Every easy run is truly easy. No pace targets for easy runs anymore. Just doing whatever feels easy for the day and the conditions. When I first started doing this, my pace was almost embarrassingly slow. So I wouldn’t even look at my pace until after the fact. I try to maintain the same breathing rate the whole time (4 in / 5 out), making sure that I’m never gasping for air.

    2. No increases until I know I’m ready. It doesn’t matter what the plan says. If a run leaves me feeling beat up or unusually exhausted, I’m not progressing yet. I’ll repeat the run the following week and then reassess. It’s made for a slower progression, but I’m not having the same aches and pains that I’ve had in the past.

    3. Logging each workout. Not just to be a nerd, but to make any necessary changes. If something works really well, I make note and try to do it again. If something doesn’t work so well, I make note and adjust what I’m doing. This keeps me from repeating the same mistakes.

    4. Being flexible. If a harder run is on the schedule, but I’m feeling really tired or worn out, I’ll replace it with an easier run. If I’m supposed to run a certain distance, but something doesn’t feel right, I’ll cut the run short. This rarely happens, but the option is there just in case.

    5. Being consistent with strength training. While not as enjoyable as running, it does keep the frame stronger, which makes you less injury prone. Since I dealt with plantar fasciitis for years, I’ve made a point of doing a lot of barefoot walking. This has made my feet a lot stronger.

    I’ve always been disproportionately faster at shorter distances. But with longer distances, my sustainable pace would fall of considerably. Not anymore. Even though certain paces/efforts are uncomfortable, I feel like it takes me a lot longer to wear down.

    Anyway, that’s it. I hope this can help somebody who reads it.


    Thanks for sharing this stuff! … it’s always good to get a confirmation of people doing similar things, although admittedly I still have trouble with your first point: “every easy run is truly easy”.

    For point 2, I’ve read recently in Daniel’s Running Formula (Sorry 80/20!, I read lots of different running books) that’s it good to only notch up intensity after performing at the same level for 3 weeks or so. I am doing a combination of applying that perspective and also following an 80/20 speed development program. Like you are saying, “no increases until I know I am ready”.

    For 3, I have been logging workouts since May, 2020. That’s basically when I started training in any form. I found it to be very helpful in a lot of ways. In a funk? look back on how much progress I’ve made. Hoping to best a PR? Look back and see what I did before I set it previously. Did too much/exhausted? Look back to see at what point that started.

    For point 4, this I definitely agree with. I think it’s also key to 80/20. When in doubt? Go by feel. This also works in the opposite direction, too. For example, I may set out to do a fast 5 mile run at the track. If I go too fast at the start but am enjoying the comfortably hard pace, then I may decide at that point – time to try for a new 5K PR! If the opposite happens, I am not able to do the 5 miles at the desired pace, I’ll just slow it down and then tack on a few miles. Helps Keep most runs satisfying. And, of course, sometimes I’ll just say “not today” and go home.

    For point 5, I needed to hear this again. While training for my first/only marathon, my abdominal muscles were strained so I stopped the strength exercises (pushups, pullups, chinups, dips). Only recently have I reintroduced strength exercises, and now more core exercises, because I am trying to prevent this and other injuries. Important point I need to adhere to. Thanks.


    Great job – sounds like the 80/20 system personalized to your needs! I’m so glad it’s working out for you!

    I switched to running with power earlier this year- one of the benefits is that I maintain the same effort, but have no idea of the pace. It’s very liberating, and efficient. Using this method I recently ran my fastest Half marathon leg of an Ironman 70.3.



    Alan, you always post interesting challenges for us.

    Your approach looks like what we might see if we had a personal coach guiding us and making adjustments on the fly. I don’t have that luxury, and I am a lousy judge on what adjustments I should make in my day-to-day training, so I just accept the advice within the 80/20 plans and do the best I can accepting the fact that some days are just going to be hard.

    I’m about to enter my sixth year of consistent running. Running; 5K, 10K, half-marathon, stride academy, and the maintenance plans. I’ve done them all with mixed success – I only consider two of my attempts to be the best ever, and one of those attempts was aborted days before my race when I contracted the flu.

    My definition of success is completing all of the workouts, and hitting the workout targets – no excuses. Not easy; it means getting support of family, committing to the diet and rest needs, doing the necessary prep work and choosing the right plan from the start.

    I am death on reducing a workout because I am **tired**. I won’t do it. I’ve found that the periodization within the 80/20 Plans works. If we were training with a team and a coach I believe we would be able to complete all of of the workouts, so I use Garmin and 80/20 as my coach to reinforce that these workouts can be done and we can still recover for the next day. I’ve not be disappointed. “If you find yourself with a teacher/coach and don’t take their advice you are in the wrong story.”


    Charles – I used to plow through every run, no matter what. The problem is that I ended up injured several times. When I began this cycle, my left foot wasn’t completely healed. The PT felt like it was OK, so he suggested that I start running anyway, albeit very gradually. So I just based everything around how my foot was feeling. The main thing was not doing any run unless my foot felt completely normal beforehand. At first, even a slow 30 minute run would have my foot feeling beat up for the rest of the day.

    I decided to increase only when my foot felt good by the afternoon of a morning run day. If it took longer than this, I would keep the run the same the following week and then reevaluate. Once I started doing some faster runs, the recover time was noticeably longer. The first time I did a speed play run, my foot felt beat up until the evening of the next day. So I kept this run the same for 3 consecutive weeks before increasing. After the third week, my foot was feeling good within 2-3 hours of finishing the run.

    Early on, the process felt really slow and tedious. But it allowed me to increase everything at a slower rate than my foot was able to recover. As the foot got better, I was able to speed up the rate of increase. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten my mileage to this level without having any issues. Anyway, this is the main reason that I’ve taken the more conservative approach. If I could plow through everything as is without getting hurt, I would definitely do so. 🙂


    Reading this again … a breathing rate of 4 in/5 out is quite slow! Are you able to maintain that cadence for most of these runs? Is that nasal breathing? Focus on diaphragm or more on the running?


    Alan, we are in agreement. Health and fitness in that order…

    I will drop a training cycle early if becomes a situation where my health will be impaired. I’ve dropped out of a cycle for excessive fatigue when I went into a plan that was too aggressive for me, for illness, and for strains. It happens.

    The 80/20 training cycles are relatively short and race focused. I like to enter a plan prepared. That means no injuries, body strong and flexible, and at the appropriate level of fitness for the plan I have chosen.

    One tool I use is the Training Peaks TSS Score. I will load a plan and look at the daily and weekly TSS for the plan for the first three weeks. If the scores are too high for my current fitness TSS I can then decide if I need some more prep time or need to chose another plan.

    I’ve seen some posts that disparage TSS, but in line with your third point collecting an analyzing the data is an essential ingredient for progress if you are into this for the long game…


    DCollins25 – Yes. There was one exception during this training cycle. It was a long run when I wasn’t adequately hydrated, so the run ended up being harder than it should have been. But keeping the same breathing cadence for the easy runs hasn’t been a problem at all. I generally don’t breathe through my nose. But I do make sure that I’m breathing deeply (diaphragmatic).

    I use a Stryd Footpod and set my screen to distance or time and lap power. But I don’t pay any attention to power until the end of mile 2. At that point, I know it’s a good warmed-up easy effort. Wherever lap power is at that point, that’s what I try to hold for the rest of the run. So it’s definitely easy.

    When I started doing this, a lot of the runs were slower than 11 minutes per mile. But they’ve gotten faster (same effort) over the past 3-4 months. Monday was 1 hour at a 9:36/mile pace. That’s probably slow compared to a lot of people here, but it’s an improvement.


    Thanks for the detailed responses. I tried 4/5 on my Saturday easy run and lasted about 3 minutes, but i may give that another go next foundation run. Seems a good way to adhere to the plan. Shaving off 90 seconds after 3-4 months seems without sustaining major injury definitely seems to indicate you’re doing things correctly. Thanks


    Part of the deal could be running cadence. Depending on what I did the day before, my easy run cadence tends to be in the 176-180 range. If you’re running with a slower cadence, maintaining that kind of breathing rhythm might not be feasible. Also, if you’re pushing the top of zone 2, this would also make it harder. When I’m just trying to keep it easy, I usually end up in the slower part of zone 2.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve seen people recommending a 3/3 or 3/4 breathing rhythm for easy runs. For me, this would be more like I would use on a tempo/threshold run. So it may just be one of those things that varies with different runners.


    True. It must be variable by runners. That Saturday easy run (11 miles) was in low zone 2, but I felt most comfortable with my accustomed 2/3. The cadence was 190 spm average on an at times hilly course. … perhaps still too fast, yet.

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