To Run Less or More...That Is the Question

A friend at work has been using the Run Less, Run Faster program since last year. A longtime runner, she has never run a marathon because injury strikes during her training. She's running MCM this year and using the Run Less, Run Faster program. I've been hearing a lot about the program, so she let me borrow the book.

When another friend at work came into my office and saw the book on my desk, she said, "Run less? But you're all about running more!"

"I know!" I cried. That's one of my main problems with the program.

But first, I'll give a quick summary. The book is written by authors from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST) and published by Runner's World. The authors did three separate research studies on runners using their approach to run marathons in 2002, 2003, and 2004. In each study, participants averaged improving their marathon time by 20 minutes, and most got PRs. In all three studies, the runners significantly improved on the running performance variables of max VO2, pace at lactate threshold, and pace at VO2.

The program has the following main components:

It is a convincing argument, and it has research to back it up. All weekend I considered using the half marathon training plan in the book instead of the Hal Higdon one I'd planned on. But I would have to start immediately, so I needed to decide soon. I found mostly positive reviews online, but I found one argument against this approach that was also very convincing. It's from the RunnersConnect site and has a bunch of reasons why the program doesn't work. The one reason that most struck me was that slow, easy runs are very important in helping you improve and get faster. The author wrote a separate article explaining why that is, but the gist is that slow runs develop your aerobic system. (Now I know--I've always wondered about that!)

Here's what I liked and didn't about the FIRST approach.



So--I'm not going to do this program. I'm going to stick to the Hal Higdon plan. However, I might consider this plan if:
I did read some reviews from people who said they substituted the cross training with easy runs. I might like the program more if I did that.

Have you ever tried this approach? How did you like it?

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