You might be clocking up serious Ks pounding the pavement or riding the bitumen, but that training program could be doing you more harm than good.

Like most guys, your time bank is probably constantly overdrawn: whether it’s the boss pushing you to work back late or mates dragging you to that last-drinks club at 3am. Whatever the reason, when you finally lace up that fashionable pair of five-finger Vibrams, you hit the ground running. Hard. Too hard.

It’s a common mistake: and it’s understandable – you want to make the most of the limited time you have to run, so you push yourself too far and too fast.

Do the numbers, runners – 80/10/10

Professional distance runners train for the most part at three-quarter pace, otherwise they’d burn themselves out. If you have your eyes set on a 10k, half marathon or marathon, the idea is to get as many kilometres into your legs as possible, and the best way to do that is to avoid lactate build-up – when your blood stream is chockers with lactic acid, which causes fatigue and reduces muscle function. Follow the 80/10/10 rule, and complete 80 per cent of your training at low intensity, 10 per cent at moderate intensity and 10 per cent at high intensity.

If you’re the kind of guy that risks nuking his calves or quads in the pursuit of a PB, invest in some wearable tech. A smart-looking heart-rate monitor – most brands now make stylish wrist pieces that won’t make you look like a geek in sneakers – will enable you to measure output and drop pace where necessary.

Another option is running with a mate or enlisting the services of a coach to holler at you when you stride out of line. Either way, sticking to the 80/10/10 formula will fire you on to the next level.

The same principle applies to cycling 

Testosterone can spur men to do great things, but it can also have the effect of making men over-reach, or in the case of cycling, over-pedal. Like running, stamina is key to building endurance, and that means more of what is known as base training and less of blasting your shiny carbon fibre bike till it shatters.

As the name suggests, base training is used by competition riders to build a foundation, to enhance their aerobic capacity so that they don’t ‘bonk’ (cyclists’ jargon for hitting the wall) when a podium finish and a shower of frothing champagne beckons.
The goal is to chase the white and yellow stripes at a rate that allows you to go for longer, so you can notch up more kilometres and make hanging out in fluoro Lycra for extended periods seem worthwhile.

That means cruising at 50 to 75 per cent of your maximum heart rate; if you don’t have a monitor, it’s the equivalent of being able to talk about that awesome goal you scored in FIFA 14 on Xbox to your riding buddy without pausing for breath.

High intensity – short bursts only

Of course, you still need to crunch out sharper numbers to guarantee rivals will be eating your dust down the finishing straight, but keep high intensity efforts to no longer than two minutes at a time, and ensure your ‘cadence’ (pedalling rate) is consistent throughout.

Whatever you do on the road to your performance goal, remember training smart isn’t always about training hard.

By Ashley Gray