Lesson 1: Know Where You Are Coming From
If you want to embrace 80/20 running I would say you need to first address your current and past mentality about running:
Why have you run in the past?
What’s your previous sport background?
What is your current/past approach to exercise in general?
80/20 running has done a lot for me but the first thing it did was make me look back at what influences had built my personal fitness worldview.
I have always felt like I am a generally athletic person. My parents have both been daily runners as far back as I can remember and consequently they set a high baseline for what was considered “fit”. I ran the 10 KM Vancouver Sun Run before I was 10 years old and to me running just always felt easy. I played soccer, hockey, baseball, snowboarded, weight-trained and it in comparison running was just what I did in between those things.
in my early 20’s I ran on and off doing roughly a couple dozen 10 KM races, half a dozen half-marathons and the whole time I never felt like I was any faster than when I was 16 where I ran a 40 min 10 KM with little to no formal running training. I had taken a degree in Kinesiology, been a strength and conditioning coach, even a volunteer running coach for the Vancouver Sun Run and it didn’t seem to make a difference. I went on more training runs than as a teenager, I was stronger and weight-trained 4-5x/week, my diet was better than before . . . What’s missing?
Now being a Chiropractor in Duncan on Vancouver Island, if I could have myself as a patient, here is probably how the conversation would go:
Dr. A: Alex, how often do you think you went for a run growing up?
Me: 1x/week for 8-10 KM maybe and if I was signed up for a race maybe 6-10 runs a month before a race total. That’s being generous.
Dr. A: Okay and how many days a week were you playing sports? How many days a week did you have gym class?
Me: Sports 4x/week at least for an hour and gym class 3x/week with a 10-20 minute run (5 min/km pace) at the beginning.
Dr. A: Did you do warm-ups where you were jogging during most of your sports?
Me: Yep for usually 10 minutes . . .
Dr. A: So if we add all that up: 1 official run (~45 min), 4 sport warm-up runs (~40 min), 3 gym-class runs (~45 min), and then 4 sports activities (~200 min) you had 5.5 hours of exercise with some significant component of aerobic conditioning most weeks consistently for years. Meaning if you would need to run for approximately 47 minutes every day currently to match that amount of activity.
Me: Oh . . . Well I do high intensity weight-training 4-5x/week for an hour so there ya go.
Dr. A: It sounds like your current style of exercise is much more focused on improving your anaerobic capacity than your aerobic capacity. It’s likely the hours spent when your were younger you had a higher volume of aerobic conditioning and so it was more transferable to running.
Looking into my past helped me see that even though I didn’t “go for a run” very often when I was younger, I was running every day in some form. Many patients say to me how they "can’t do what they could when they were younger", but frequently the reason is because we don’t do the same things we did when we were younger. The reality is when we have to go to work 5x/week most of us don’t have play and running around with our friends built into the schedule for 30-50 minutes every day.
We need to prioritize our time to play and move and the 80/20 running principles can allow you to do that! Run through those initial questions and write down your story. If your story is similar, you're a long time runner looking to improve or you have never run before it doesn't really matter. What matters is that meet yourself where you are currently at, not where you used to be.
The next part of the series we will diving into the relationship with pain/discomfort, how it influenced my running and how it could be affecting your health journey.
Take it easy!
Click on the link if you want to pick up a copy of 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald today!