80/20 Running

Author:  Matt Fitzgerald

Tagline: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower

Pages: 252

Review by: Simon Linklater

Summary:  80% of your training should be done at an easy pace. Are you convinced? Yes? Then do it. No? Then read this book and you soon will be. Running doesn’t have to be hard, at least not all the time. Just 20% of the time in fact! Hence the title of this book.


Full Review

The premise of this book is simple. 80% of your training/running should be done at an easy pace. The other 20% should be moderate to high intensity training.

Now if you are already training this way or you believe this approach to be true, then you don’t actually need to read the book. You could go for a run instead. Preferably a slow easy run.

If you think it’s a load of bollocks or just want to find out more, then this book is certainly worth a gander.

For the most part, the author goes into great detail to convince you that 80/20 training is the best method. To be fair when you hear the names Mo Farah and Paul Ratcliffe branded around, then you shouldn’t take much convincing #legends.

He uses evidence from studies and elite athletes to sell the idea. I was sold from the word go, having done a lot of my recent training at an easy pace. “I believe you” I found myself muttering as I read yet another case study of how easy running had helped a group of 12.62 athletes improve their 5K times by 7.905687%, or whatever the stats were.

Easy running is a pace where you feel comfortable and can hold a conversation. I hear so many people moan that “running is hard”. It doesn’t have to be. Well for 80% of the time it doesn’t. I know some of my club like a good natter & gossip so they’ll love this approach.

Some of the things I picked up on during the book included how slow running not only improves your fitness but also how your brain functions. Something I would never have considered. For those of you obsessed with improving your technique, such as increasing your cadence or making your stride length longer, don’t bother.

Matt Fitzgerald makes a strong case, again using studies, as how trying to force these changes will only hinder your progress. Instead he claims by adopting the 80/20 approach and running more miles at an easy pace, your running skill will improve in time. Your cadence and stride length will increase naturally as you run more.

The author breaks down the different types of training runs. There are detailed training plans for all the main distances. This is the part of the book I’m not a fan of. Why? Because if you are going to introduce a training plan, it has to be tailored to your individual needs. There are so many other factors which come into play. Your current level of fitness, the goal you have set yourself and the amount of time you have available or are willing to commit to training. All these will be different from one runner to the next, as will be the rate of progress during the training plan. So use these plans as a guide but don’t feel you need to stick to them.

The author also discusses cross training, the different methods you can use to help your running and how often you should cross train each week.

Training and plans are something which fascinate me in my bid to improve as a runner. But if it’s not your thing, then you’ll quickly get bored with this book. That said, given the evidence at hand, it’s a training approach which I highly recommend and one I will be trying my best to adhere to going forward.

Running With the Kenyans

Author: Adharanand Finn

Please give it a read. If you can take courage from the challenge and experience Finn took on, then it can only help you improve your running.

Review Score: 4.4

Eat Drink Run

Author: Bryony Gordon

It makes a change to read a book about a non runner and how exercising made her believe in herself and bury her demons.

Review Score: 4.3

This Girl Ran

Author: Helen Croydon

Starting her fitness journey in her mid 30s, Helen shows what is achievable if you are willing to push yourself that extra mile.

Review Score: 4.2