Run Slow to Race Fast

Running Tips

Have you heard that you should run slow to race fast? The 80 / 20 rule?

It is a common misconception that to improve our endurance capabilities; we must run as hard and fast as possible every time we lace up our trainers. Too many people make this common mistake, leading to increased injury risk and falling out of love with running before they even get started. That feeling of being completely exhausted or hearing “running is too hard” is a factor in why so many runners stop early into their training. But taking the 80/20 approach and implementing it correctly can increase your passion for running and send your capabilities through the roof.

What is the 80/20 rule?

In its simplest terms, we must do 80% of our running at a low intensity. This can be framed as a “conversational pace”. If you are conducting your run and can no longer hold a conversation with someone whilst running, SLOW DOWN! Whether you are an elite runner or a complete newbie this rule has been confirmed across the board. If you train 10 hours a week, 20 hours or just 2 hours. Ensure that you implement the 80/20 rule. 

What are the benefits?

Easy runs train the cardio and respiratory systems to work more efficiently, allowing you to run with less effort during higher-intensity runs. Slow runs also train your slow twitch muscle fibres – which will enable us to work aerobically – driving adaptations that make us better at endurance running. And so if we don’t include enough of these in our plan, we are not getting enough of the appropriate aerobic stress needed for long-distance running. Slower running also helps strengthen the tendons, ligaments, joints and bones without causing excessive stress.

This leads us to the 20%. This is where we can implement our higher-intensity training. We can use training sessions such as tempo runs, hill sprints, and high-intensity intervals in conjunction with a training block. This will increase V02 max and lactate threshold, improving our body’s ability to go longer at more intense efforts and ultimately leading us to success in our goal races!