Stick to the plan! Yes, that was what I thought when I started my previous plan. In my hurry to get back to fitness levels I was at 4 years ago, I wasn’t really enjoying my running. I was looking for something that would give me a good base, as well as make my running feel good.
I came across the MAF method a while ago but dismissed the whole running according to heart rate, as I believed you didn’t need another data point to stress you out on your run. Also I thought I would be bored out of my mind running at a very slow pace for majority of runs (unless you’re young or have a great aerobic heart rate). But I did believe that most of my running was at a pace faster than I should have been doing. The pandemic just added to not being motivated. It was a good time to try something different (again)!
I returned to the drawing board. I had tossed MAF out of the window without even trying it. While going down the ‘search rabbit hole’ I came across 80/20 by Matt Fitzgerald and here. It uses similar principles of the MAF method but with some variations (speed sessions) thrown in.
The well-known 80/20 rule of intensity balance stipulates that runners should aim to spend about 80 percent of their weekly training time at moderate intensity (i.e. at a pace at which you can comfortably carry on a conversation) and about 20 percent at moderate to high intensity.
80/20 principle is used in a lot of industries, so have a field day going down that rabbit hole!!
The 80/20 book by Fitzgerald has detailed plans for runners across distances (5k-42k) with levels. Also has a chapter on cross training and how you can incorporate it into the routine.
So most of the plan is time based rather than distance. I’ll add a sample week. This is my first week of training. I’ve taken a day off running and added cycling. My latest fad is doing a 50k ride. I think it works cardio and doesn’t leave you feeling knackered at the end of it. I plan to do the famous MAF test at the end of every four week period to see if there’s any improvement.
Week 1 (March 2–7)
So the FR/FF/SP/LR are all types of runs that are linked to heart rate zones. Like FR6 is Foundation Run 6 — Run for 45mins in zone 2 (<138bpm). I’m currently running close to 10min/mile. Though it sounds painful, it’s sort of meditative. Let’s see at the end of 4 months where I am. I’ll keep this updated as to how it’s going.
The week is almost up. I did skip 2 days of running, which gave me only 4 days of running, the minimum you should have. I skipped a mid week run as I played football the evening before and presumed I should rest. But with the speed and distances done I should have just run it. Lazy me! Running in zone 2 is not as bad as it sounds. You just need to plan to start earlier on your long runs. You do end up looking at your watch a lot which hopefully I’ll do less of as the weeks progress. Looking forward to my ride tomorrow.
Update: 12 April
It’s been around 5 weeks since I started the training. Garmin seemed to think i was being totally unproductive through out the phase. My zone 2 pace was roughly at 6 mins/km. The 12 and 14 mile runs were hard to do keeping this pace. But I started enjoying it. I had to skip some sessions as I started playing football twice a week at night, so getting up was difficult. I treated the games as a work out so I didn’t really miss out on any of the runs, except I hadn’t tracked them. I also continued cycling my 50k on Sundays.
Last week Garmin bumped up my zone 2 to 138–152 from about 115–133. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. But I’ll keep at it and see where I get. I’ve already missed 2 runs this week because of pure laziness!
A look at the week 2 and week 4 on similar runs:
As you can see there’s not much difference. I’m guessing it would take atleast 4–6months to see some change.
Update 6 June
So the lockdown happened again and I stopped running (me being anal about lock downs). So I’ll probably have to start from the very beginning — down my pace/mile 😭 I’ve been doing a lot of other work so I may look at only a 10k plan till things ease up on the pandemic and my schedule.
Do I need to follow this plan? Not really, I just need to run the paces set for any plan I do. I’m wondering if I should start tomorrow.. hmm! 🤷🏽♂️