Why you shouldn’t train at maximum intensity

If I was to tell any athlete in any sport one piece of advice it would be this: You don’t need to train at maximum intensity to perform at maximum intensity. For that matter, you don’t even need to perform at maximum intensity in any sport except for in short bursts.

For runners, that ‘maximum intensity’ might only be reached in the final 5-10 seconds of a race. So why train at maximum intensity? Many coaches use the words “maximum intensity” to represent a 100% effort. But a 100% effort in running means that you are destroying your body. And for what? To get 1-2 seconds faster? That’s if you don’t get injured and need to take 6-8 weeks off of running.

As a historically injury prone runner, take it from me. There have been a countless number of times in my sporting career where I went all out at my maximum capacity interval after interval, believing my body could handle it. What I didn’t realize was that each and every single time, my body couldn’t actually handle it. My endurance levels and the ability to quickly move my muscles were all working in harmony, but my ability to recover from those efforts were not syncing up in the same way.

You don’t want to end up like this guy!

That’s because every time you engage in high-intensity exercise, you are creating micro-tears in the body. These micro-tears need time to recover and heal if you are going to reap the rewards of those high intensity efforts. If you do even one interval at maximum capacity, that means that you likely won’t be able to do any other intervals at what is your actual maximum capacity. It also means that you are only doing more damage to the body, and that it will be more difficult for your body to recover the next day.

So the next time you hear a coach telling you to put in your 110% effort, or your maximum intensity, recognize that as a runner, this should never actually be that 110% until that final sprint to the finish line. Running fast is important, but so is longevity, and the ability to run for years. If you want to not only run fast but endure a healthy career as an endurance athlete, stop training at your absolute maximum capacity.

If you’re interested in working with me on your running journey and improving your craft, all you have to do is fill out the form!

Currently accepting online clients anywhere in the world, or in-person clients from: Cambridge, Waterloo, Kitchener, Guelph, Paris and Brantford.

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

Strava Profile | Rhys Desmond


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One response to “Why you shouldn’t train at maximum intensity”

  1. […] early to become acclimatized to the course. He ran hard, fast sessions without ever reaching an overblown maximum intensity of obscene insanity, and then saved that obscene insanity for race […]


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