Understanding your Running Paces

Updated: Mar 2

Do just go out and RUN and just run at your natural pace?

Do you never wonder what people are on about when they tag their Strava run a tempo run?

I often see runners saying they've been out for an EASY long run yet I know it's more like their race pace or faster.

As a coach, I do prefer to run to paces (also depends on what the athlete is training for) rather than heart rate, even better run to feel by using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE).

I will, however, check it from time to time, personal there are more factors that can affect your heart rate on a daily basis. I check my rest HR in the mornings as that will indicate whether I'm overtraining or not.

So, running paces:

Easy Pace: my biggest frustration, trying to get athletes to SLOW it down. Social media puts a lot of pressure on us to be running fast, people worry what others will think on Strava if they upload a run which is 9:45/mi rather than their normal 8:30/mi run.

Easy pace should be run at a comfortable, conversational pace, which certainly may vary daily, depending on how you are feeling. On the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale this would be a 4/10. These types of runs would be used as warm/cool downs, recovery runs or long runs.

Purpose: Running at your Easy pace promotes physiological benefits that build a solid base from which higher-intensity training can be performed. The heart muscle is strengthened, muscles receive increased blood supplies and increase their ability to process oxygen delivered through the cardiovascular system.

Marathon Pace: or steady runs, you can add these into your longer sessions by adding some long repeats (e.g. 2 x 4 miles at marathon pace) helps your body get a feel of your marathon pace. On the RPE scale you would be looking at 5/10

Purpose: Used to experience race pace conditions for those training for a marathon or simply as an alternative to Easy pace running for beginners on long run days.

Threshold/Tempo Pace: I love tempo run!! Again these runs can be added to break up a long run or used as more of a quality session. Threshold pace is comfortably hard running for either a steady 3-4 miles (or 5 to 6km) or repeated runs of 5 to 15 minutes each, with 1 to 3 minutes of rest between the runs. RPE of 7/10

Purpose: To improve endurance.

Interval Pace: these quality sessions should be hard but not all-out lung-busting!! Intervals are best if they involve runs of 3 to 5 minutes each (800m and 1000m workbouts are typical), with jog recoveries of similar duration (not necessarily, equal distance.

Purpose: Stress your aerobic power (VO2max). It takes about two minutes for you to gear up to functioning at VO2max so the ideal duration of an "Interval" is 3-5 minutes each. The reason not to go past 5-minutes is to prevent anaerobic involvement, which can result in blood-lactate build-up. RPE of 8/10

Repetition Pace: fast, but not necessarily "hard," because work bouts are relatively short and are followed by relatively long recovery bouts. Recoveries are to be long enough that each run feels no more difficult than the previous run, because the purpose of Reps is to improve speed and economy and you can not get faster (nor more economical) if you are not running relaxed. If it takes 3 minutes recovery between Rep 400s, then that is what is needed. Reducing rest time between individual work bouts does not make for a better workout, in fact it probably makes for a worse workout because the short rests could increase the stress and lead to poor economy. RPE of 9/10 Purpose: To improve your speed and economy.

All these paces are based on your current fitness levels and would change of the course of a training plan as you get fitter, stronger and faster.

If you want more information or any enquires for coaching then you can email me at dchcoaching@outlook.com


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