Every runner enjoys running well. But the causal relationship between running well and running happy operates in both directions: When you prioritize enjoyment in your running, you tend to run well as a result.
Richard Sudworth discovered this lesson only recently, despite having been an on-and-off runner for most of his 43 years. Not coincidentally, this discovery coincided with Richard’s discovery of the 80/20 system last year as he prepared for the only event on his race calendar that hadn’t been cancelled by the pandemic: a trail ultramarathon near his home in Lancashire, England. Having previously injured himself with the low-mileage, high-intensity approach described in the book Run Less, Run Faster, he embraced 80/20 as an opportunity to stop forcing things and relish the process.
“I describe 80/20 as my run ‘run slower, run happier’ system because I am genuinely happier as a result,” says the husband and father of two daughters. “I went into my race knowing I was fitter and healthier than I have ever been, but not particularly bothered about getting any specific time because I knew I’d enjoy myself.” Sure enough, performance followed—Richard finished 17th overall, covering 46 miles with more than 8,000 feet of elevation gain in less than 10 hours.
He might have done even better if not for a problem that occurred late in the race, but Richard’s 80/20 mindset helped there too. “I had a horrible cramp crisis towards the end and I think my new 80/20 Zen-like attitude to slow paces helped me accept just walking whilst my friend pushed ahead for the finish,” he says. “The cramp cleared and I was pleased to come in not too far behind him in the end, and I’m super proud.”
We’re proud too, Richard!