Knowing how to work out your training paces is a good tool to have in your running arsenal, it allows you to train to the level you are and you can then track your improvements. There are a few different ways that you can work this out and can help with that!
Knowing what level you are currently
First and foremost, figure out what level you are currently at in your training. If you are training for anything in particular it’s handy to know your recent time for the distance so you can create a plan to improve it.
If you don’t have this because you’ve been injured or haven’t entered a race recently you can do your very own time trial, for example, a 5K or 10K. Once you have found out your time then you can use this handy calculator to work out your training paces for you once you have inputted your result!
What do your training paces mean?
You will be given a set of ‘training paces’ to follow from this calculator. This is all based on the time you have run recently, so sticking to these paces is crucial for your development.
Easy pace: This is the pace that most of your runs in the week are going to be at. You’ll be running your warm-ups, cool downs and recovery runs all at this effort/pace. Easy running should be comfortable and feel like you can have a conversation with a person next to you.
Threshold: Threshold pace is the effort you should be able to sustain for an hour but when training you normally run at this pace for shorter bouts of effort to build your threshold. Intervals range from 5-15 minutes each and you’ll have short recoveries of around 1-3 minutes after each effort.
Interval: Your interval pace is hard but not all-out running. This pace should feel just faster than a 5K effort and you would only be able to hold it for around 10-15 minutes. Typically with this type of effort, you would run sessions such as 800/1000m repeats at this pace to stress your V02 max.
Repetition: This type of training pace is hard but not necessarily taxing because it’s efforts that are hard but with very long recoveries. The purpose of these types of runs is to build speed and your neuromuscular engine as opposed to VO2 max.
How do you apply this?
We put together an article on how to structure your training week for a more in-depth discussion on how to structure your sessions.
The main thing to realise with your training paces is knowing what pace to run for each workout. You wouldn’t want to run your threshold pace for an easy recovery run because that would be counterproductive and you may have already run a speed session that week, so you’re only adding to the fatigue.