Is More, when done right, Better? | 80/20 Endurance

Is More, when done right, Better?

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    I’m looking to incorporate the Level 3 marathon plan from “80/20 Running” into my plan for an early fall trail race that I expect to take me about marathon time to complete. I figure this will be a good fit.

    However, in noting the range of hours in the plan (starting at 6ish hours per week and maxing at 10ish hours), this maxes out at a good bit less than my max weekly hours when training for big (marathon and up) events. With extensive cross training added, I would end up maxing at 15+ hours while keeping my running below 60-65mpw as I tend to be injury prone at higher mileage. That running also was typically mountain/trail volume which is considerably slower per mile, adding to the total time as well (i.e. 60-65mpw at 10min/mile+ average is almost 2 hours more per week than what my road average of 8-830min/mile would be).

    I have not been granted with natural gifts for running (I’m pretty fast twitch) so I’ve discovered I have to work harder at it to get the results I want, but at 49 I have to make some of that volume in non/low impact sports like cycling and incline-treadmill-walking in order to stave off injury.

    So what I typically do is follow a run plan, doing all the speework/intensity in running, and then adding in Zone1/Zone2 crosstraining as I can tolerate.

    Admittedly this has gotten me pretty tired and sick of training at times so it’s a fine line to straddle balancing all those attributes for sure.

    But one of the things I like about the 80/20 plan is the emphasis on cross training, but it seems to come in at a volume way less than I’m used to. So with all that said, is there anything wrong with padding that cross training number?

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Nothing wrong with it, Brian. I wonder if you might get slightly better results from slightly reducing the total combined training volume (compared to your past formula) and incorporating a bit of intensity in the cross-training. Just a thought.


    Thanks Matt. One problem I’ve encountered with adding intensity to the cross training is where to do it?

    Typically I do my intensity sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, giving that day of recovery in between…then a long run on Saturday, again another day of recovery. (sometimes I’ll do some intensity as part of the long run as well).

    So, as with strength work, I’m always puzzled as to where to add the extra intensity sessions so they don’t interfere with recovery? Should I double-up on those Tuesday/Thursday with a PM cross training intensity session? Or fit them into one of the recovery days?

    I have tended to double-up my strength work, doing them on the same day I do intensity – figuring strength is secondary so if I can’t go max in those sessions it’s fine because I’m getting the full duration of recovery time for both intensity and strength instead.

    Matt Fitzgerald

    Keep in mind that, unless your ability to do high-intensity running is somehow constrained, you don’t have to add much quality work to your cross-training sessions if you choose to take that route. We tend to think of any workout containing efforts in Zones 3-5 as “hard” and therefore requiring time to recovery from, but that’s not really true. Tossing a handful of Z4-5 surges into an elliptical run or tacking a Z3 fast finish onto the end of a bike ride will, if done consistently, confer meaningful fitness benefits without getting in the way of your key run sessions, regardless of placement.


    Well this is music to my ears as I sometimes got to where I was dreading another Z1/Z2 session on the bike or treadmill. Adding some intensity will spice them up and also add some variety.

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