Question on the 80/20 Running Book | 80/20 Endurance

Question on the 80/20 Running Book

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  • #7538
    redbull
    Participant

    Hi,

    I have recently read the 80/20 book and would like to go on one of the plans, however, I am unsure how to proceed due to not quite fully understanding certain parts of the book.

    I’ll quote the book and then put my interpretation, question(s) and thoughts.

    “Start by doing either a thirty-minute time trial, a perceived effort–based test workout, or a talk-test workout to determine your lactate threshold heart rate, then calculate your five heart rate training zones using the percentages in Table 6.1.
    Use one of these same workouts to calibrate your perceived effort ratings, anchoring your lactate threshold intensity to a perceived effort of 6 on a 1 to 10 scale.”

    I am unsure how this works when using the perceived effort–based test workout (which is my preference as there’s an app for it!) For example, I’m doing a perceived effort-based test workout to determine my five HR training zones, and then using those zones to calibrate my Perceived Effort (PE) ratings. It seems like a chicken and egg issue to me!? I realise the book says the following about the perceived effort–based test:

    The downside of this test is that a little practice is needed to master the art of quantifying subjective effort.

    Perhaps it is only a technique for experienced runners then? I have been running once or twice a week for just a few months and I only run all out.

    When switching zones (and also when starting a run) the books says:

    Use perceived effort to establish your initial intensity whenever a workout calls for a change in intensity.

    And then to stay in that Zone (for Zone 1 and Zone 2):

    Use heart rate as your primary intensity metric in all low-intensity runs (Zones 1 and 2).

    So, I understand I use PE to get into a Zone and then you are supposed to stay in that Zone via the use of a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) or pace metric. This seems fine if everything lines up with all the pre-calculations we have made (that is our matrix/table of Zones to PE and HR) but when it doesn’t what are you supposed to do?

    An example may help:

    I am starting a run in Zone 1 (Z1) and thus PE of 1-2. However, when I look at my HRM my HR is actually Zone 2 (Z2); do I now slow down, i.e., reduce intensity, so my HR enters Z1 or keep up with the intensity that matches my PE? The book would suggest the latter:

    you must always allow perceived effort to have the final say in controlling the intensity of workouts

    If my understanding of this is correct, I’d argue there is no point of even measuring HR as, if there is a discrepancy between it and PE then we just go with PE! Surely I have misunderstood this concept?

    A similar but inverse example would be that I’ve just moved into Zone 3 (Z3) but my HR says I’m still in Z2, do I pump up the intensity so my HR gets into Z3?

    Essentially, I feel there is some ambiguity, at least in how I perceived the book: on one hand it says to use HR to stay in a Zone but it also says that PE has the final say – so why bother with HR?

    Thanks for your help!

    #7540
    XFatMan
    Participant

    I am just a slow amateur runner, but let try to answer a question or two:

    I am unsure how this works when using the perceived effort–based test workout (which is my preference as there’s an app for it!) For example, I’m doing a perceived effort-based test workout to determine my five HR training zones, and then using those zones to calibrate my Perceived Effort (PE) ratings. It seems like a chicken and egg issue to me!? I realise the book says the following about the perceived effort–based test:

    I think you need to learn perceived effort first. Go for a run. Can you speak in complete sentences just normally? That is Zone 1. Do different intensities and note how you feel. This takes time, especially when you are new to running.

    Perhaps it is only a technique for experienced runners then? I have been running once or twice a week for just a few months and I only run all out.

    No, it is something every beginner should learn first. Most don’t for the exact reason that it takes time. I all too often see folks at the start line who won’t run after the gun because their GPS isn’t ready. Technology will fail on occasions, and if you haven’t learned the basic stuff, you might run into trouble. Another thing: stop this all-out stuff. It burns you out.

    So, I understand I use PE to get into a Zone and then you are supposed to stay in that Zone via the use of a Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) or pace metric. This seems fine if everything lines up with all the pre-calculations we have made (that is our matrix/table of Zones to PE and HR) but when it doesn’t what are you supposed to do?

    Heart rate is more objective that PE. Personally, I run with power, which takes out most of the guesswork. But guess what? I often check my PE and my heart rate. And when I feel there is something off, I can actually pinpoint what it is. For instance, after a night without much sleep, my heart rate will be way higher, but not my PE. There are tons of different situations where one complements the other. Some coaches say, throw heart rate/PE or whatever out the window. No. You can use all of them, and you should, just in case you run into a problem. If all fails, you are left with PE, which is the reason why I always listen to my body before I listen to some tech stuff, no matter how modern.

    I am starting a run in Zone 1 (Z1) and thus PE of 1-2. However, when I look at my HRM my HR is actually Zone 2 (Z2); do I now slow down, i.e., reduce intensity, so my HR enters Z1 or keep up with the intensity that matches my PE? The book would suggest the latter:

    Exactly what I would do after a bad night’s sleep, for instance. My PE decides, not the heart rate and not the power. I am in control, not a machine.

    If my understanding of this is correct, I’d argue there is no point of even measuring HR as, if there is a discrepancy between it and PE then we just go with PE! Surely I have misunderstood this concept?

    Oh, there is. Let’s say you run at PE 1-2, but your heart rate is way too high. What gives? Might be you are in for a cold in a few days, so slow down, or even go home. It’s all about learning and interpreting what is going on, and again, that takes time. You get really valuable information from the heart rate, if you know what to make of it.

    A similar but inverse example would be that I’ve just moved into Zone 3 (Z3) but my HR says I’m still in Z2, do I pump up the intensity so my HR gets into Z3?

    Not necessary. You are already working hard, why would you want to work harder? If PE is your preferred means of measurement, stick to it. The more you use it, the more you will learn from it. For example, when you race a marathon and look at your heart rate after 20 mi, you might freak out and want to slow down. If you can trust how you feel, you don’t give a damn about the tech. I once ran a marathon and at mile 18 my watch just went blank. If I were a tech-dependent dummy, I’d probably have pulled out of the race. But no, I listened to my body and got the PR I was shooting for.

    Essentially, I feel there is some ambiguity, at least in how I perceived the book: on one hand it says to use HR to stay in a Zone but it also says that PE has the final say – so why bother with HR?

    Ambbiguity in running? Hell yes! For example, if you ask 5 coaches what an interval workout is, you will get at least 5 different answers, and none of these might make sense to you at first. Welcome to running. This sport is so simple, yet so complicated. If you have a heart rate monitor, learn how to use it. Decribing all you could do with it would make for a pretty long book. Joe Friel actually wrote a book titled “Total Heart Rate Training”, which is over 200 pages. This book, 80/20 Running, is way more exact than your first impression. If you read books by Arthur Lydiard, you will come across intensity descriptions such as 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8. Once you understand them, they make sense and are very precise. But until then, you’d call anybody nuts telling you to run 10 mi at 1/2, right?

    If I were you, I would go out and start with very easy running. Ask yourself from time to time if you are still in the same PE zone. Check your heart rate when you do that. Try higher intensities and do the same. It’s a learning curve. Do that for some weeks. Once you have learned what the intensities feel like, do a test.

    When I came to running, an analog handheld stopwatch was a luxury item only very few coaches had. We didn’t have a choice: we had to learn to run by feel. I have seen runners pulling out of a race because their watch failed and they didn’t know how to pace themselves. If you know to run by feel (PE), that is not going to happen to you.

    But as I said, I am just a slow amateur runner. Let’s hope that some more knowledgable guys chime in here. I’d love to learn something new, too.

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