Every runner out there has certain goals – some of them want to lose their body weight, others want to get fit, others want to improve certain health factors. One of the most commonly seen running goals is to run faster. Simple.
It often goes like this: You start off with the goal of finishing your first 5K, or 10K. Once you’re done with that, you set a new goal of running the same distance once again and beating your previous time.
When going for greater fitness and race results, there are two major training factors that you can improve: volume and intensity. Volume is how much you run and intensity is how fast you run. If your goal is to set a new personal record, should you run faster or run more?
Neither. Research indicates that there is a certain balance of training intensities that are optimal for runners at all levels of fitness and experience. Specifically, runners improve the most when they do 80% of their training at low intensity and the remaining 20 percent at high intensity.
Looking at the 80/20 Rule, you would actually improve more if you keep your running volume the same and do some of it slower than you would if you run either more or faster.
It’s a proven fact. In a study conducted last year, researchers divided recreational runners into two subgroups. Some did about 50 percent of their training at low intensity and 50 percent at moderate to high intensity, as the typical runners does. Others did 80 percent of their training at low intensity and the rest at high intensity. The two subgroups did equal amounts of running, meaning that they always ran the same distances. After 10 weeks, the runners in the 80/20 group had improved their 10K times by double the amount of improvement in the 50/50 group!
To take advantage of the 80/20 Rule, you need to pay attention to intensity when you run. Spend 80% of your total weekly running time at very low effort levels, and the remaining 20% at the highest efforts!