Run Less Run Faster – A Low Mileage Option? – 30 Minute Runner

Run Less Run Faster - A Low Mileage Option?

I recently received an e-mail from a reader who has been following the 30 Minute Runner experiment. She was intrigued by the goal of figuring out the best low mileage training options and asked whether I had read the book Run Less Run Faster by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss.

I had never heard of this book, but the title sounded interesting. I picked up the book at my local bookstore and started reading.

Run Less Run Faster Principles

The training principles behind the Run Less Run Faster program are unique and are a lot different from my 30 Minute Runner program. In my program, I am running 30 minutes per day at least 3-5 times per week, and doing short but high intensity interval workouts 1-2 times per week.

The Run Less Run Faster Program would eliminate all of my easy run days.

The basic idea of the Program is that, during a one week period, runners should run three high quality workouts, two cross training workouts, and take two days off.  The authors refer this basic plan of three run days and 2 cross training routine days as the 3Plus2 plan.

There are three types of high quality workouts: track repeats, tempo runs, and long runs.  Here are a few examples from one week in the 5k plan:

  • Track Workout: 10-20 minute warmup, 6 X 800 meters (with 400 meters rest), 10 minute cool down
  • Tempo Run: 1 mile warmup, 4 miles at “mid tempo pace”, 1 mile cooldown
  • Long Run: 7 miles at “long tempo pace”

The book includes detailed pacing tables for each type of workout based on a runner’s fitness level.  As a 20 minute 5k runner, I would be expect to run the 800 meter repeats in 2:57 minutes. My “mid-tempo” pace is 6:58 per mile. And my “long tempo” pace is 7:13.

These paces are pretty intense , but I guess you have to work hard when you are only running three times per week.

Cross Training in Run Less Run Faster

One of the key distinguishing factors in the Run Less Run Faster program is the use of two “cross training” routines per week.  The authors are very clear that the cross training must be non-impact.

This eliminates treadmills, stair-climbers, ellipticals, certain home workout programs, such as “Insanity” and “P90X,” and jumping rope. Therefore, the only viable cross training exercises for most people are swimming, cycling (including spin classes), and using a rowing machine.

My understanding is that the purpose for the non-impact cross training is improve a runner’s fitness without risking injury.  This could be a godsend to runners who always seem to get injured with higher mileage programs.

Is Run Less Run Faster for Me?

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was refreshing to see a unique take on how to best train for a race.  It was also remarkable to see detailed training plans for marathon times as fast as 3:05 using only three runs per week.

However, I think the Run Less Run Faster program has different goals then my 30 Minute Runner program.

The Run Less Run Faster program is all about limiting the number of running days, but, with the cross training component, the total exercise time per week remains largely the same as other plans.

The 30 Minute Runner experiment is all about limiting the amount of time spent running. It is perfectly acceptable for me to run seven days per week, as long as I don’t regularly exceed 30 minutes per day of running.

It seems to me that the Run Less Run Faster program would take much more time than the 30 Minute Runner Plan.  Not only are the workouts way longer and more intense, but finding ways to cross train could be a real pain.

I don’t have much interest in purchasing a gym membership, driving to a gym, and doing lap swimming or spin class. This would take much longer than a 30 minute run.  I’m also not interested in spending a lot of money on a rowing machine.

So while I am intrigued by the Run Less Run Faster program, I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense for me at this moment in my life.

Have you tried the Run Less Run Faster program?

How did it work for you?

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