This is a topic that I have visited in the past but each time I post something about it, I feel like I understand it a little bit better.
Over the years, I have seen more than a few training plans that give percentage of efforts. These plans tell a runner that they should be running their workouts at this percentage of maximal effort or that percentage of maximal effort.
Personally, I feel one should never go above 90% of maximal effort. Perhaps, the best plan is to keep it around 80 to 85 percent. Running at 90% or above is just too close to turning a workout into a race and when I turn a workout into a race, I lengthen my recovery time and my risk of injury increases. In fact, through the years when I am injured, I can pretty much put my finger on the workout that did it. I pushed well into the red for some unknown reason and the result was a pulled something or another.
Running at 80 to 85 percent is still a very tough workout. But by staying within this range, I can come back a few days later with another workout, more rest and then another workout because the recovery process is shorter. Furthermore, by keeping within this range, my risk of injury is reduced greatly. And, one thing that I can expound upon enough, the ability to race well comes from being able to run and run regularly. Being injured takes away from this body of work.
The month of July is well underway and lots of people are starting their fall marathon training. As you go about executing your plan, keep this in mind. You can have a few super fast workouts but risk missing days to recover or take a little something off the top and show up at the starting line healthy and having given yourself a solid chance at achieving your goal.
And remember above all else, 100% should be reserved for race days. This is when you want to push the risk aside and reach for your goal.
By the way, that's why workouts are called training and not racing. No one can race every workout.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner