1. Intro
  2. Chapter 1
  3. Chapter 2
  4. Chapter 3
  5. Chapter 4
  6. Chapter 5
  7. Chapter 6
    1. Perceived Effort
    2. Heart Rate
    3. Pace
  8. Chapter 7: Getting Started with 80/20 Running
  9. Chapter 8 - 5k
  10. Chapter 9 - 10k
  11. Chapter 10 - half
  12. Chapter 11 - marathon
  13. Chapter 12 - Cross training as an alternative to running more
  14. Chapter 13: 80/20 for everyone?
  15. Appendix: Detailed intensity control guidelines for 80/20 workouts


He wants to communicate from researchers to commoners. This book is such. 80% of your runs should be easy, that’s what elites do across disciplines. Ventilatory threshold (77-79% of max hr) should be able to talk there First part of book is educational, second is practical.

Chapter 1

Should run slower. Hard to break your faster habit. Do it more (too) often so it feels natural to run at that pace. We want to get things done quickly (not low effort), but also not suffer too much (not high effort). So we do things at moderate effort. Which is too much effort. Week of slow: week of superslow running (start at low distance, gradually build during the week) be very focused on having it suuuperslow. This will “reset” your perception of easy running.

Chapter 2

Two main vars in training: volume and intensity. Mostly some history here. Zapotek, Lydiard. Meh.

TODO: script to analyse my runs by HR if possible, pace otherwise, to classify them as easy, mid, and hard. Get a summary for every week ever.

Chapter 3

Seiler finding out about the ratio and convincing others of the scientific merit. States that hiit studies are too short (6wks) and to rigid (always same exercise, no variation) Conclusion: 80 at low, 20 at high, no need for moderate. Surprise surprise.

Chapter 4

Why does it work? No answer yet. Possibly: Low does more than thought, high does more when plenty of low, or mod and high are too stressful to do a lot. 60% of max hr is minimum for aerobic effect. Further increase brings more.. both are needed for different effects, balanced. Moderate is worst of both worlds. Too much stress, not enough benefit. Vo2max is but one part of the picture. Battling brain fatigue is there too effort for the brain to keep focused.

Chapter 5

How it improves skill. Don’t force the “good” form. Just run relaxed and lots. Don’t think about the act of running. Of course, to run relaxed and lots, you need low effort runs.

Chapter 6

Three ways to control yourself, pay attention to: perceived effort, heart rate, pace. (Duh) other things are too impractical.

Perceived Effort

Perceived effort is how it feels in the head, not the body. Things can hurt in the body, but it is all about what the brain thinks. In the lab: movement related cortical perception (MRCP). Perceived effort gets higher during the run. Only use it at the start to get started, after that use HR or pace. Make it more important after eg a bad night sleep. Pushing through would make next days bad too. He gives some cues you can look for to rate your effort. Basically low remains under Comfortably hard/feel like pushing sliiightly. Later he will split things up in five zones of two points each.

Heart Rate

Easy to measure. Supposedly fat burning in fit runners happens around heart rate of ventilatory threshold. Heart rate is personal for everyone. Zones based on it are thus also for you individually. The important thing to find out to set your zones is, to him, the lactate threshold heart rate. In his zones, it is the upper limit of the moderate intensity range. The best way to measure is in the lab on a treadmill. This may still vary a bit over several days, but that does not matter too much for training. Luckily, cause that means you can just measure it yourself in training.

  • The 30 minute time trial: warm up decently with easy jogging. Run as much as you can in 30 minutes. Average heart rate in final 10 is your LT HR. This sucks.
  • Via perceived effort: a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. Just start at 1 and build up till it feels like 6. Heart rate at that point is LT HR. Bit handwavy of course.
  • Talk test: LT is fastest at which you can comfortably talk. Start slow, after a minute recite something, speed up a bit, after a minute recite something, speed up, … When slightly uncomfortable to talk, look at pace and heart rate of the previous step. That is your LT HR. Comfortable = breathing is normal a few breaths after you stopped talking.

The five zones are as follows (+ example at 170 LT HR):

  1. Low aerobic: 75-80% of LT HR (127-136).
  2. Moderate aerobic: 81-89% of LT HR (137-151).
  3. Threshold: 96-100% of LT HR (163-172).
  4. VO2max: 102-105% of LT HR (173-178).
  5. Speed: 106+% of LT HR (179+).

The first two are low intensity, below the ventilatory threshold. Moderate is the third. High is the two last. The non overlap/continuity is on purpose.

Their purposes:

  1. Warmup, cooldown, recovery between intervals, recovery runs.
  2. “Foundation runs”, i.e. easy runs. Long runs.
  3. Tempo runs, cruise intervals, fast finish runs.
  4. Interval workouts with longer (2-8min) intervals, fartlek.
  5. Interval workouts with shorter (30-90s) intervals, hill reps, intenser fartleks.

LT HR will be a bit higher if you are more fit. So retest if fitness changed noticeably. HR monitoring is best in the lower zones to hold you back. Higher zones have cardiac lag anyway, use pace/perceived effort there.


Different from the two previous. They are the input into the running. This is the output of the effort that is running. Faster running is the cause of body working harder. Also matters for performance, of course. If it improves while the input stays the same, then training is going good.

In training, you will want to slightly improve it from one hard workout to the next similar one. You should always feel like you could have gone a bit faster! Never race effort! If you feel shit on a workout day, let perceived effort take over.

Use heart rate for zone 1 and 2 training. Effort at the start of zone 3 workouts, followed by heart rate to control yourself and pace to push yourself. Use pace for 4 and 5 training.

Set pace zones after you have your heart rate zones established. Start slow and as you pass the different ends of the heart rate zones, note your pace at each of them. Tada. Do this on flat terrain of course. Alternatively, there are calculators that will give you pace zones based on recent race results. He compares his zones to one of them: Greg McMillan.

Table 6.3 Summarises the intensity monitoring metrics and their pro/cons.

The appendix provides more details on how to work on the effort for each type of workout.

Chapter 7: Getting Started with 80/20 Running

Explains nuances of the 80/20 rule. Describes six additional rules to make training effective.

  1. 80/20 rule. Nuance: there is some wiggle room depending on the week and your goal. It is never exactly 80/20. Since you will likely do periodization in training (your training for a race is split over different periods with different goals, resulting in a peak), those different periods will have slightly different ratios. The exact split of how much should go in moderate- and high-intensity workouts is not quite solved yet. Current best practice: depend on your goal. A 5k will have more high, a marathon will have more moderate.
  2. Train in cycles. If you increase weekly, your body will only keep up for about 24 weeks. Continuing after that might leave you injured or overtrained. Need a few weeks rest after such a block. The next block after can then start with a better base. Training cycle does not have to be 24 weeks long.
  3. Run more (little by little). First increase how often you run. Then increase average duration till ~1h. TAKE YOUR TIME TO GET THERE. Do not boost your average weekly by more than 16km year to year. (Man, that sounds depressingly slow when put that way). Increase till your reach your genetic limit (whereever that may be), at which point you cannot increase further by running. Good luck ever reaching that point, I guess.
  4. Do tried-and-true workouts. They emerged over the ages and probably says something. He defines 12 different types of runs and will use them later in his plans. In other words this section is important to understand the plans. Refer back to it when reading a plan. One type will have several different variations (e.g., Recovery run 1 through 9 provide different lengths of running). For each workout he also states how much of it is in which intensity zone so you can tailor things to remain at or near the 80/20 ratio.
    1. (low) Recovery run. Entirely in zone 1. After workouts. Alternative to day off.
    2. (low) Foundation run. Mostly in zone 2. Warmup and cooldown in zone 1. This type will be done the most by far.
    3. (low) Long run. Sort of extended foundation run. Defined in terms of length as it is there to build endurance for the particular race you want to do.
    4. (moderate) Fast finish run. A short bit of zone 3 at the end of a foundation run. For a little injection of moderate into volume building or recovery weeks.
    5. (moderate) Tempo run. Sustained zone 3 sandwiched between a warmup and cooldown. Emphasized in peak phase of training.
    6. (moderate) Cruise interval run. Multiple zone 3 intervals with zone 1 rest. Enables more total moderate work than the tempo run.
    7. (moderate) Long run with speed play. Short bursts of zone 3 here and there. Good for late in training cycle when you have already done the longest run you will do. Measured by distance like the regular long run.
    8. (moderate) Long run with fast finish. Same idea and purpose as previous, but the zone 3 is only at the end.
    9. (high) Speed play run. Foundation and interval crossover. Mostly in zone two. Short bursts at zone 4. Easier than regular interval, not done on track. Simple way to introduce some high effort into things. Same injection idea as fast finish (during volume building and recovery).
    10. (high) Hill repetition run. Uphill interval run, has parts in zone 5. Many of the same benefits as interval, but less stressful on legs. Bridge between base and peak training.
    11. (high) Short interval run. Repeated 60-90s efforts at zone 5. Jogs in zone 1. Enhance aerobic capacity, high-intensity fatigue resistance, and running economy.
    12. (high) Long interval run. Repeated 3-5 min efforts at zone 4. Maximizes high-intensity fatigue resistance.
    13. (high) Mixed interval run. Sharpen up for racing after gotten solid foundation. Efforts in zone 3, 4, and 5. Maintains fitness gains in each of the zones.
  5. Obey the hard/easy principle. Split up high workouts by lighter ones. Microcycle of seven days with three hard days buffered by light ones. Two at moderate or high. One as long run.
  6. Practice step cycles. Rule 5 at broader scale. Mesocycle, multiweek training block with load varied from week to week, each week slightly harder than previous. Last week is a recovery week. Mostly via volume. Usually 3-4 weeks. 4 better for low volumes, 3 for higher or older. 3 is safer.
  7. Train progressively. There should be a goal/direction in your plan, you progress towards it. For example incrementally harder. Or more and more race specific hard workouts. Early part of training is then to make sure you can handle it. First part is still base etc.

Chapter 8 - 5k

The 20 of the 80/20 should focus on high, not moderate. Three plans. Each nine weeks long: 3 base, 5 peak, 1 taper. Recovery every third.

Chapter 9 - 10k

Race is similar intensity to the 5k. Little more training volume. Little more moderate-high effort balance. Twelve weeks long: 6 base, 4 peak, 2 taper. Recovery every third.

Chapter 10 - half

Focused program of endurance building. High intensity fatigue resistance. Fifteen weeks: 6 base, 7 peak, 2 taper. (6-8-1 for lowest plan). Recovery every third.

Chapter 11 - marathon

He finds it a bit longer than what is good. Very high level of endurance. Get used to running hard in state of fatigue. Plans try to avoid you hitting the wall. Eighteen week long: 9 base, 7 peak, 2 taper. Recovery every third.

Chapter 12 - Cross training as an alternative to running more

Supplement running with cycling or other nonimpact to avoid injuries. Does not help for your running skill though.

Do it once a week regardless, so you can more easily do it more often when injured and even slightly before to avoid injury. Also avoids injury in that other sport.

In terms of actually supplementing, he poses two approaches:

  • Minimalist. Add single cross training session. Five to six workouts is still a 20% increase, injury risk pretty much the same. Avoids adding a lot of training time. Also good if you are near running limit and just want to add a tiny little bit.
  • Aggressive. Multiple cross-training, often at the expense of running. So more cautious in a way. Good for injury prone runners and those over 35 who worry about it. Max performance => more cross train. Fear of injury => less run (but never less than 3). Max number of workouts per week is 13 (doubles with one recovery day). Only 6-7 need be runs.

Apply 80/20 rule to the entirety, not just running! He advises to do your hardest parts in the discipline you compete in.

If injured, replace every run with equivalent cross training. You can find your HR zones by doing the same 30 minute test etc as you do with running.

His top seven cross training:

  1. Antigravity treadmill running. Great for injury, just make yourself lighter till the pain disappears, then give yourself more weight over time as you heal. Pricy. Inaccessible.
  2. Biking. Quadriceps are main muscle while just shock absorber in running. Getting your bike fitted is really important!
  3. Outdoor elliptical biking. Elliptical with wheels.
  4. Indoor elliptical biking. Bit boring possibly.
  5. Pool running. The lack of impact and weight bearing might set you up for injury right after. Boring.
  6. Slideboarding. Skating motion simulation. Typically for ice hockey players etc. Not too crazy pricy. Small and for at home. Good if you easily get knee pain.
  7. Uphill treadmill walking. Similar motion to running, for the brain.

Finishes that section with a little grading table for each, grading for running specificity, convenience, and enjoyableness.

Chapter 13: 80/20 for everyone?

Running better for weightloss than other activities. This chapter is focused on weight loss and says the 80/20 approach is best for this too.

Also some stuff as an intro to triathloning. Tip on how to get started with the swimming part.

Appendix: Detailed intensity control guidelines for 80/20 workouts

For every type of run he describes, tips are given how you should stay in the correct zone and effort.