James Sheppard is a 37-year-old training operations manager who lives in Exeter, England, with his partner, Elle, and their five-year-old son. He also suffers from a medical condition that causes inflammation in his joints if he subjects his body to too much stress. Every endurance athlete has a few good reasons to train the 80/20 way, but James has one extra. “I wanted training that would for the most part keep the intensity down to reduce the chances of flare-ups happening,” he says. “80/20 fit perfectly!”
James’s endurance journey started with four years of road cycling, but a few years ago he transitioned to trail running after discovering the beauty of the Devon area’s coastal routes. He first heard about 80/20 on Facebook, then read 80/20 Running and began to follow the Level 1 Half-Marathon Plan. Having recently recovered from a flare-up, James was forced to walk parts of his Zone 2 runs initially, but he stayed the course and was rewarded with a new personal best.
Like any reasonable person, James set his sights next on a 24-hour virtual event and used a 100-mile 80/20 plan to prepare for it. “I was amazed at how, due to the format of the 80/20 training, I could run consistently six or seven days a week and not be overly fatigued, enabling me to hit the session targets,” he says. “It felt like my aerobic ‘engine’ was getting strong and very noticeably my pace was getting quicker with the lower heart rate.”
On race day, James covered 100 miles in 22:14, earning fifth place overall. “My longest run prior to this was 37 miles,” he remarks. “The training supported me to hitting the 100 miles—thanks to the 80/20 team!”