Run Faster by Training Slower

A few years ago, I was on a morning run. That day I had told myself I am going to have an easy run, no pressure on having a fast pace. Just a nice jog to get the body started for the day.

As I was turning a corner into Seke road, a guy on his way to work saw me and encouraged me to up the pace. Definitely well intentioned.

And in that moment I thought, he’s right. Why am I even running slow? Running slow is making excuses. Up that pace. And I did so. Talk about working with peer pressure.

How should I run actually?

I was proud of myself for upping the pace during that run but it conflicted me. Should I always be running at a fast pace? What exactly is the correct way to train anyway?

So I started reading around and I had also started studying physiology so I could get a clearer picture. Then I stumbled across the following book. 80/20 Running: Run Stronger & Race Faster by Training Slower. 80/20 Running

Intuitively, we all think that for the best results, we should train hard most times. We should run fast almost every time and study hard almost every time, but 20% of what we do accounts for 80% of the results.

And that’s what author Matt Fitzgerald explains.

The core principles are the following

  • You should focus on running easy for most of your training, with bursts of high-intensity effort mixed in. This approach is designed to improve your fitness and fatigue resistance.
  • Easy running strengthens the brain’s ability to resist fatigue.

In a nutshell, 80% of your training should be easy and slow while only 20% should be high in intensity and should leave you wishing you had started exercising.

If you are running 5 days a week, 4 should be easy to mid intensity while you leave 1 day to be ballistic about your running and your training.

80/20 - Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle

This is what’s called the Pareto Principle. It’s not a law but it is a principle that was observed by some Italian dude way back in business but it has now been observed in so many other facets of life such as relationships and personal finance.

20% of what we do accounts for 80% of the results.

So what?

I personally felt a pressure when I posted on my social media a run with a slower than usual pace. Fear is to hear comments such as “you are becoming slow, you slacked” but that pressure only comes from being misinformed.


The hope is you have learnt that it’s not every day that you have to be putting in 100% of your effort into anything, or in this particular discussion, exercise. Most of your training should be slow, should be easy. But in the remaining 20%, make sure you are giving it your all.

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