Sunday, December 22, 2019

80/20 In Training & in Life

As a running coach the most asked question I get is what type of programming should a athlete follow to reach their training goals.  This truly depends on the athlete, their goals, timeline, and personal life.  I do not believe in a one size fits all program since no two athletes are identical so no two training programs should be identical.  There are, however, prefered programs that are backed by thousands of hours of coaching experience and clinical studies.  Still, these programs, to be effective must blend well into an athletes personal lives with minimum conflict.

One popular and effective training program is the 80/20 program made popular by Matt Fitzgerald’s book 80/20 Running: Run Stronger and Race Faster by Training Slower.  The theory is by conducting 80 percent of your training at a low intensity (below lactate threshold) and 20 percent at a high intensity you can prevent injury, increase endurance, and actually increase your running pace.  This program has proven to be very effective and great for new runners or older runners.  This same philosophy can be applied to other endurance sports as well like triathlons, cycling, and even dragon boat racing.

I think we should take the same philosophy and apply it to our lives.  If you put an effort into staying or getting in shape, trying to maintain an active lifestyle, or just started to train for a lifetime goal (like running your first half marathon) then I consider you an athlete.  As an athlete, trying to manage the stresses of our real lives and our training lives become overwhelming and constantly battle with each other.  How do we know which side should win?  I would be lying if I told you how to manage the battle and what the perfect balance would be, hence the long absence in my blog lately.  I have a tendency to dedicate the majority of my focus on my family, specifically Ultra Flunkie D and his medical requirements, and ignore my own health.  I can only provide guidance on how I try to manage things.

I think the 80/20 philosophy is a compass to guide us on this journey.  Our families and careers should have the priority 80 percent.  Our family will be there fat or thin, slow or fast, on the good days and the bad.  They are our support and without them, let's be honest, we would be lost.  Our careers provide the means to our survival and the ability to seek and achieve our goals.  While these two things provide the foundation of who we are they also add to our stresses at times.  This is why the 20 percent should be focused on physical activities.  We all need a way to remove the effects of stress for our mental well-being.  We need to take time to take care of ourselves and when we don’t we can feel and see the effects that stress has on our lives and bodies.

I am guilty of ignoring my well being as much as anyone else.  The results have been additional injuries, weight gain, and increased difficulty dealing with mental health issues.  SO in short I am trying to kick start all of us for the new year.  Let us enjoy the holidays with our friends and family but start thinking about and developing your 80/20 plan to create a new you for the new year.  Share below in the comment sections on how you plan on creating a balance in your life.  Your thoughts could inspire others or you might just find someone on the same path that can help you stay on track.
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