Some might say Matt Fitzgerald is an adrenaline junkie. On any given day he might be found circling his Oakdale neighborhood via bicycle or in sneakers or found at the gym getting in a good workout. Training or maintaining condition, just seems to be what he does.
While this observation is not far off, there’s something more brewing as Fitzgerald spins his wheels, figuratively: books. The Oakdale resident and endurance sports writer recently released another book, “80/20 Triathlon.” According to Fitzgerald it’s a follow up from the first released “80/20 Running,” four years ago.
“The book did well,” he said of 80/20 Running. The book shares the basic principles of optimum balance of low versus high intensity in endurance training. The success of the book also prompted triathletes to inquire if Fitzgerald would take the principle one (or two) steps further including the other two elements of triathlon training.
“Endurance is endurance, that’s why the 80/20 concept does apply,” the author stated, “because the principles of building fitness are the same. But also each sport has its own particularities.”
As an endurance runner, as well as triathlete, Fitzgerald not only subscribes to the concept but shared it is the only one which works with continued proven results. According to the endurance athlete/author it’s also far from a new idea. It was first known as the Lydiard-style and founded in the 1950’s by New Zealand Coach Arthur Lydiard.
“Although all professional endurance athletes do the 80/20 thing … they wouldn’t be elite if they didn’t, because it’s the only thing that works,” he said. “The mass majority of recreational endurance athletes are in what I like to call the moderate intensity rut.”
Not one to like to do the same thing twice, Fitzgerald takes it a step further in this 80/20 book by exploring the reasons a recreational athlete often does this. He also partnered with endurance coach David Warden to extend the technical legs and principles of the concept to a broader reach.
“This is just how it’s done,” he said of a technique which is older than he is, yet still widely used by pros. “It’s not like your smart phone, where you expect it to change every year. What works, works until we genetically change ourselves.
“The difference is staggering,” he added, noting that a recreational athlete typically goes at a moderate intensity 50 percent of the time versus the 80/20 which states one trains at a low intensity 80 percent of the time and above one’s threshold the other 20 percent.
As an author of multiple books on training, diet, fitness and the sport of running, Fitzgerald also coaches recreational athletes seeking guidance or improved results.
“It’s not a novel,” he said of his latest book. “People are going to pick it up with, what’s in it for me. These sports matter to people because it’s a hobby, but it’s a passion and people invest a lot of time, energy and often times money into these sports.”
Fitzgerald knows of the passion he speaks; a passion so great that he’s found a way to craft a career from it.
“I have things to say that other people aren’t saying. It’s as simple as that,” he said of his career as an author, as well as fitness writer for numerous magazines. “When I think something’s really interesting I just assume other people will too.”
Having a sense of humor and bit of humility helps as well. As Fitzgerald recounts his books, findings and going from concept to print, he recognizes his good fortune.
“I’m super fortunate,” he stated. “If I write a book and it sells 70,000 copies, that’s a lot of copies. Most writers would kill for that. I’m an idea guy. If I’m good at anything that’s probably my number one thing, I come up with ideas.”
While the 80/20 training method was not his idea, it was his gift, as well as understanding that make it relatable and useful to the recreational athlete.
“It’s not snake oil,” he said of the proven performance technique. “I didn’t even come up with this.”
What the book does provide is something of a blueprint.
“It’s hand holding,” Fitzgerald said of breaking it down via book form. “It really is. Endurance athletes are not lazy. They’re willing to work hard. Laziness tends to come by way of how much thought they put into training. This just makes that part easy.”