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Running Intensity. How Much Is Too Much???

Endurance sports are challenging to train for at the best of times. Often Runners struggle to create a training plan with an appropriate mix of training types and intensities to get the desired performance benefits without getting injuries or becoming burntout.  

So what should you be aiming for intensity wise? 

A Study by Seiler (2010), suggests a ratio of 80 to 20% of low to high intensity training gives excellent results for endurance athletes. This means that 80% of your training should consist of low intensity running, however high intensity sprinting, intervals and strength training are also important parts of a balanced training program.

The aim of high intensity training is to improve overall power, strength and performance. However, it seems that TWO sessions per week is enough to achieve these adaptations! The important part of these sessions is to make sure your exertion level is 80% of your maximum effort. This works well to get the desired training effects without leading to excessive stress on your body over the long term. 

As practitioners we generally find most runners fall into one of two groups:

  1. They do too much high intensity running, trying to better their PB each time they train
  2. They run a lot of km’s wihtout including any high intensity or strength work.

Which Group do you fall into and how do you rectify this?

If you fall into group one, you are making the common training error of doing too much high intensity work. You run the risk of feeling run down, tired, moody or frustrated and you are also putting in your max effort all the time without seeing the performance improvements. The solution is to include more low intensity training sessions such as gentle runs and walks into your program. A physio specialising in running and running programs is a great person to help you plan the perfect running program.

Here are the advantages to a balanced training program. 

  • Better run times without the exhaustion
  • Feeling less run down
  • Less injuries

People who fall into group 2 tend to stick to the same running program, day in and day out, without any changes to training intensity or cross training such as weights. The downfalls to this running program are:

  • Higher injury risk
  • Poorer improvements in performance
  • Increased symtoms of stiffness and tightness (feeling like you need to stretch all the time)

This can be rectified by including a running specific strength training program and changes to running intensity into your program.

If this sounds like you, you may benefit from outside help in assessing your current training errors or style. This can be achieved by consulting a running coach or a physiotherapist who specialiases in running.  They will help you identify training errors, particularly as it relates to past or current injuries and injury risk, and develop a training program specific to your needs.  

Want to know more? Physio Melissa specialises in running and can help you with your running program. To contact Melissa contact us on 47240768 or  It’s also easy to book online by clicking here and selecting Melissa from the drop down menu.

All information is general in nature. For specific advice please see your health professional.
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