Book feedback and warning on 80/20 running | 80/20 Endurance

Book feedback and warning on 80/20 running

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    Hi I wanted to leave some feedback on Matt’s great book and a possible warning for others perhaps. The book presented a really compelling alternative to how I was running; which was near max effort 2-3 times and 20-25km per week. Through time constraints and playing multiple sports, I’d somehow unintentionally developed a running training style for achieving the best hour-long run I could manage, with the occasional half marathon thrown in for a stretch, and so I somewhat ignorantly trained as such with a larger (<15km) and some smaller runs each week. Naturally that type of training was self-limiting the frequency I could run, and therefore the distance, which I’d not appreciated before reading the book.

    I read Matt’s book 7 weeks before a friend asked me to go in a half marathon (first in 3 years and 4th attempted) and decided to try aspects of slow and medium training with only 1 short/fast session per week. By slowing down my training I was really surprised to be able to immediately run 6 days a week and so distance naturally went up also, and eventually I found I could sustain higher pace with less effort.

    I did the half sub-95min and was amazed – this was a significant PB for me and I’m 47yo taking up running late in life. Plus the race ended in a sub-4 “sprint” with the feeling I could have gone a bit harder – clearly the book had worked.

    But that’s where the good news stops unfortunately. In the last week or two of training I started developing tenderness in my heels which I’d not ever had in 7 years of running. A physio since explained in treatment what achilles were and how they don’t take well to sudden step-wise increases in training load. In my case this was at least 50% within a few short weeks, not deliberately, but just because I somehow now could. I’ve not run since and sort of “fell off the wagon” while trying to get the heels resolved.

    So I guess the book might have a warning that for some of us 80/20 really does surprisingly unlock a bunch of capability almost overnight. But that can also come at a cost if you just adopt it and replace current fast-training, there aren’t the same inherent distance limits in place, and maybe it should be adopted more gradually than I did.

    Thanks for the book anyway,


    Thanks for your post. I’m glad to hear about your time improvements, but sorry to hear about the heel issues. You bring up a great point. Anytime you’re increasing the number of running days per week, it’s important to do so gradually. I’ll start by adding one extra day and making this a short and easy run. Maybe even a run/walk workout. Nothing that’s going to be physiologically stressful at all. Then, I’ll progressively add a certain amount of time or distance. Maybe 5 minutes or half a mile. As long as I’m feeling great and not having any issues, I’ll continue to a certain point with the increases. But if I’m not recovering as quickly, I’ll either back off or stick with the current level until my body adapts.

    Again, sorry to hear about the heel issues. Hope you are able to recovery soon.

    David Warden

    Nick, thanks for sharing your experience. Really hope you recover soon. Since the book was published in 2012, we have added a Target Athlete section to each electronic training plan to specifically ensure that the runner has the correct base for the plan level. For example, the new HM Level 1 plan says “Before you begin the plan, build your training to the point where you are running at least three times per week for up to 6 miles or more.”

    This issue is addressed in the book as well, but very briefly. From page 134:

    Take your time building your running volume. The body’s tolerance for the stress of running increases slowly. It’s best to err on the side of caution and proceed even slower than you think you could. Aim to boost your average weekly running volume by no more than ten miles from year to year. Even at this cautious rate, you can go from twenty miles per week to sixty miles per week in four years.

    But, if you are picking up a plan from the book, we didn’t have that target athlete section at the time. We did add the Target Athlete section to the beginning of each plan in our latest book 80/20 Triathlon, and will do that in the next edition of 80/20 Running.


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