Maybe you can learn from my mistakes | 80/20 Endurance

Maybe you can learn from my mistakes

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    A year ago I took a goal to run sub 1:30 half marathon. I started with maintenance plan and was doing quite a bit of gym work as well. Main training started in February when I lunged into HM level 2 plan. After a week rest I started with HM level 3 plan. Both plans were HR based.

    What problems did I face:
    1. knees were starting to hurt 2 months into the HM 2 plan
    2. calves and achilleas were overloaded and I needed to skip at least 1 speed workout and sometimes substitute 2 runs with other exercises. Developed IT band syndrome.
    3. constant tinkering with new zones suggested from Garmin guided my fitness to decline gradually

    What countermeasures I started to use:
    1. Root cause for this problem was that I stopped strength training when starting HM 2 plan and too many trainings. The work that I did during maintenance phase carried me for 2 months. Also, I was running for 14 times per month and now the load was 25 times per month. Later, my average was around 19 times per month. Too high load wrecked me.
    Solutions: consulting with David he suggested I incorporate strength training plan into my run plan. It made my core stronger and running at Z3 tempos were not problematic.
    For me, the strength training plan for knees was not enough. I kept doing the exercises but ran (pun intended) into problems again in the end of HM 3 plan. Also, I started to listen to my body more and changed some of the runs for cycling, jump rope etc.

    Strength exercises I use at least twice a week are:
    *Classical squat
    *Goblet squat
    *Sumo squat
    *Step up/down
    *One-legged squat (pistol squat)
    *split squat (front leg loaded)
    *lunge backwards (only toes touch the ground)
    *split squat (back leg loaded)
    *Bulgarian split squat
    *Hip thrusts with knees bent at 60degrees. If you bend it higher your glutes will start to work more. Also good to use a resistance band over the knees.
    *hamstring curl – use a physio ball or a towel
    *Romanian deadlift
    *Nordic exercise
    *clam shell + resistance band
    *fire hydrant
    *hip thrusts (remember, you need to feel your glutes burning. if they are not, you are not doing it right. focus)
    *Copenhagen add
    *band abductor exercises

    2. Root cause for the second problem is somewhat linked to the first problem. My calves and other supporting systems needed for running were not developed enough for this training load. What made matters worse was me stopping strength training in the start of HM 2 plan.
    First I started going to masseuse every week. Pretty expensive. He suggested I buy a dough roll. Very good buy!
    *Dough roll to take care of muscles
    *Load off from running during maintenance
    *Every morning started with mobility and stretching for 30 minutes for 4 months
    *Every day I do 5 quality slow motion calf raises. When waiting for anything I try to remember to stand on one leg and then the other (foot stability muscles).
    *Go to gym with socks only for greater benefit for foot muscles. Free workout.
    *Running ergonomics assessment – one of the best uses for your money and time. Let a professional look at your stride and you will run more efficiently and with less problems.
    *plan is only a plan – make changes if situation changes. For example I started to use jump rope instead of 30min z1 easy runs. Jump rope strengthens my calves and has a positive effect on reducing ground contact time.
    *as my physio told me, it takes time to DEVELOP INTO A RUNNER. You just can’t become a runner, but you need to develop into it. Respect that your system needs time (not only cardiovascular system but muscular as well). When my physio massaged me he said “I can feel that you have been running but your ligaments are not developed yet (compared to runners)”. That was a lightbulb moment for me.

    3. This was my first year of running and using Garmin device. When starting a plan I did a 20min test and then during training sessions my Garmin watch told me what my fitness level is. Sometimes my LTHR was going higher, sometimes lower. I accepted new suggested levels every time and ended up with a lot lower fitness level overall.
    Solution – only change zones after a quality test. When I was doing HM 3 plan I used a test twice during the plan and just didn’t listen to Garmin and TP. Less noise and better results. Win-win

    We all have some intrinsic goals with running. What ever your goals are, remember to have fun. Have fun during your z1-z2 trainings to have energy to smash z3-z5 trainings.
    Measure your progress. Sometimes we forget where we came from. We always want more, but it is good to remember that progress takes time.
    Figure out what you need to do every day to keep you running. Dedication and discipline are the things that propel you forward. If you figure out what are the core things for YOU and do them every day – success is inevitable!

    To run I needed to focus on maintenance way more than running itself. Starting from muscles, joints, ligaments, mobility to eating habits to boost recovery and lose some weight in the process.

    I hope this is helpful for someone starting out or having the same sort of problems.
    Overall I ran a PR from 1:55 to 1:35.

    I wish you the best! Now go play 🙂


    Awesome! Looks like you found a solid formula for your training. After dealing with some running injuries, I’ve made some significant adjustments, many of which are similar to yours. And the result have been awesome. But there are a few things on your list that I’ve never thought of. So I’ll definitely give these another look. Thanks for sharing!

    Marius T

    Thanks for sharing !
    Lot of good information.
    Doing regular weight/mobility/stability workouts helped me a lot.
    Can you elaborate a little bit about what kind of workout format do you use ? Circuit style training ? Strength orientated ? Do you use periodization for SC workouts ?


    For leg workouts I just focus on one group at once and do all the exercises on the list. I usually go for 3 sets and 8-15 reps, depending on the exercise. During breaks I do some stability exercises for core or one legged stands, calf raises, crunches etc. Stability exercises for core are the ones from 80/20 strength plans. So it is a mix on 80/20 strength plan and what my physio told me to do.

    When I was doing these strength trainings during hard running weeks, I took the heavy load off from muscles. Same exercises but with body weight or less reps.
    Now that I’m in off season mode, I will ramp up the weights.
    One good goal to have is to be able to do pistol squat without any help. My ankle mobility might get in the way, but it is a good goal to have in terms of running as well. All the muscle groups + mobility needs to be there to complete this exercise. I have squatted with 175kg, but never done a pistol squat 🙂

    I also use these exercises with different speeds. The slower you go, the harder it is. Sometimes I do isometric (no movement) holds. Great for already injured areas. Muscles work a lot without harming joints because there is no movement.

    I hope I understand the last question correctly. Do you mean if I use different strength cycles (muscle endurance, strength endurance, strength, speed, power)?
    I will use it, yes. Muscle endurance not so much. Currently I’m in strength endurance mode until my knees feel strong to put them under heavier load. Then I will do strength oriented work for a couple of months into HM plans. During end phases of HM plans I will just use these exercises as a maintenance. Sometimes I do these exercises mid run. I will pause the run and do exercises to run with fatigued muscle to hold form. Sometimes I do running drills in the middle of the foundation run. Search for “Athletic Drills” by JopoCoaching and “Kenya Form Running” by Westlake Distance Running.

    I made a mistake of leaving out strength trainings in the last phase of HM3 plan. Last 1.5 weeks were a little bit painful even when load was coming off.


    One more hack my physio told me. If you have a busy schedule and it is hard for you to plan all these trainings in your calendar, do little pieces of strength whenever possible. If it is not certain phase in a plan where it needs a certain load or time interval just “steal” the time and do 1-2 exercises. It is still better than missing the whole workout and even doing some work will still compound over time. I have a 3.8 and 0.8 year old sons at home and it was a challenge to find time. I guess it is like that for all of us. Time is limited. It is a game with a long goal. Just do what you can when you can.

    Like one veteran Estonian 100m athlete told in an interview after winning 3rd place in world championships in 90+ category: “Becoming world champion in 100m is not about speed but endurance. The guys who got 1st and 2nd place, they didn’t look so good and they might not be here next year. My plan is to outlive them and get the gold”

    Marius T

    This is a gooood one. You just made my day :)))

    Thank you very much for your comprehensive answers. Lot of good and practical ideas, you are so kind to share.

    I followed the 80/20 strength plan coupled with IM training. Indeed, a little bit hard to find time to do it but it was the first season when I wasn’t injured.

    I will try to sneak some short session during the day or after the swim/run or bike workout.

    For me, autoregulating the intensity of main movements (deadlift, squat, split squat) worked well.

    For next period, I’m thinking at 8020 off season strength plan with Wendler 531 progression for main lifts (instead of the actual general recommendation of doing 3 sets x 10-12 reps). When I will be in a god day, will do PR sets. When not, just the bare minimum or 5 PPRO’s.




    This is the fourth time for me answering to your comment. Somehow the site doesn’t accept my long-winded answers and accepted to “test” which I can’t delete.

    Anyway, hope this one goes through without any links. That seems to mess up the posts.

    I have found Smolov training programs to work very well but you need to have very good foundation set for that. It is very taxing on your body, but it will generate good results.

    Good resources during foundation trainings are The Strength Running podcast by Jason Fitzgerald and Run Smarter podcast by Brodie Sharpe. They have podcasts for every type of injury and rehab that needs to be done to get out the injury and prevent it from happening again. Our own 80/20 podcast is brilliant as well.


    I found one of Jason Fitzgerald’s routines when I was dealing with IT Band Syndrome. After a couple of weeks, the problem was gone and never returned. It’s been 3 years and I haven’t had a single ITB issues since then. RunnersConnect also has some really good race specific strength programs.


    RunnersConnect I haven’t heard of. I will check it out today.
    What kind of routines did Jason use, do you remember?


    It’s this one:

    The ITB Rehab Routine – Video Demonstration

    The only thing I added to this single leg stands. 1 minute or so per leg, just before the hip hikes. When I first started doing these, it was no problem with the good leg. But it was almost impossibly difficult with the ITBS leg. I couldn’t stand for more than 30 seconds. And the glute would cramp so bad that I would have to roll it out with a lacrosse ball. But after a couple of weeks, I could do a minute per leg with no trouble.

    Now that the IT Band is better, I do an abbreviated version of this as a pre-run warmup / activation.


    Thanks for the tips guys! I have issues with hip adductor/groin muscles. The ITSB strength video is very similar to those for hip and groin injuries I found. Main takeaway for me is to incorporate strength training before injuries occur or become long-term. Thanks.

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