Last year was the first time I heard about the book Run Less, Run Faster. As much as I enjoy triathlons and running, I have to admit the title had already sold me at “run less”. I was told by a neighbor that the book could take me from running 9-minute miles in my events to running multiple minutes faster per mile. It sounded a bit too good to be true, but I decided to check it out.
The basic premise is that running 5-6 days per week doesn’t give your body time to recover and rebuild, and that if you restrict your running to three days each week and cross-train the other days, you’ll actually end up running faster, while running less. My former triathlon coach had already convinced me of the wisdom of adequate recovery time, so I never ran more than three days per week anyway. Could this book still help me, or was it just reinforcing what I already practiced? Why, yes. The other part is that your workouts should be broken into three different types; 1) speed, 2) race simulation, 3) endurance/distance. I may not be using the terminology the authors do, and in fact I may be getting this part wrong, but that’s what I’ve gotten out of it. Luckily, you don’t really have to understand everything because they give you detailed training plans. You just do what they say, and it works.
And that’s the best part–this isn’t just conjecture. The authors were quite scientific about figuring out what you should be doing during those three days of running each week. They used live subjects over and over, refining their model, and they got something that has been more or less proven to work.
As for me, the real test was trying it out, which I did this year. Last Saturday I participated in my first triathlon using the book, and I averaged 7:50 per mile, which is amazing for me. Granted, this was a sprint-distance triathlon and therefore a 5K distance, but I’ve never run a 5K distance anywhere close to that fast, nor have I felt as good afterward. Normal for me would have been something closer to an 8:30 mile, perhaps even closer to 9:00.
I’ll be doing two more sprint distance triathlons this year, and perhaps the Las Vegas marathon in December if it works with scheduling, and I’ll be quite interested to see if the results continue to show improvement. Based on how this first event went, I’m pretty sure they will and I highly recommend the book to anyone who is used to running 10 minute miles and doesn’t think they’ll ever be able to improve.