80/20 training has been around for over 50 years in one form or other but it is the work of Stephen Seiler and Matt Fitzgerald that has popularised this idea. The basic theory is that roughly 80% of your training should be at an easy level and 20% should be hard.

The main benefits of 80% easy training is that it puts less strain on your body, allowing you to train more but most importantly, it allows your body to recover. You get stronger when you rest and recover, not when you train. The 20% hard training stimulates your body into getting stronger and faster. The problem is with the middle intensity range, the benefits over easy training do not outweigh the extra recovery needed. This is particularly important as you get older when recovery takes longer.

Training slowly is tough!

When you first calculate your training zones and go out for a run or a cycle, you will find it very difficult to keep your heart rate down. You will be walking a lot and feel like you are hardly working but you are working hard enough for your body to respond. Your times will look bad, Strava looks awful and you feel like a fraud for training like this. But you will get up the following morning feeling better, you will start to improve your pace on these easy efforts and you feel stronger.

I use my club sessions for my 20% hard efforts. It is much easier to push yourself in a group and these sessions are often designed as High Intensity Intervals. This leaves me to enjoy my personal training at an easy level.

80/20 is not a hard & fast rule. If you are short of time then you will gain most by doing a higher proportion of higher intensity of work but as your training time increases, you should be around the 80/20 mark. I can fit this around your club sessions or any other commitments that you may have. This is the training philosophy that I use.