How to pace your runs
How to pace your runs, it’s a question I get asked a lot!
I write most of my training plans for runners based on effort based pacing. The benefits of this is that the workouts progress as you improve, as you are running faster at the same effort level. Also the speed you will run at for a given effort will change day to day and week to week. Things like previous training, hours of sleep, hydration and fuelling, stress levels and illness will all impact the speed you run at for a given effort. You can still have a successful effort based run even if you are running slightly slower.
Training at different effort levels will work different energy systems, muscles and work on different elements of running. An easy long run, steady shorter runs, and faster interval style runs get you working speed, endurance as well as combining the two. This builds you up nicely to race day. Working with faster paces for shorter distances or intervals will not only train your muscles, but also your energy release systems and your brain that going faster is possible.
What paces you use for your training depends on your goals. For the marathon a lot of your running will be done at easy and steady pace, with some at tempo and a little threshold sprinkled in. For shorter distances this balance will shift towards the faster end of the list. You only really use fast/sprint pace in training when focusing on sprint or track events.
I often come across people that are running all their runs at roughly the same pace. My advice is to slow down the long runs so they are purely training endurance, stick to easy pace. Every 3-4 weeks try a long run with a steady, tempo, or race pace section towards the end or in the middle. Doing a longer run at your target race pace is really fatiguing and increases injury risk, leave that for race day.
Getting some faster paces into shorter runs is great. Intervals at tempo or threshold pace with very easy recoveries; focus on there being a real different in speeds between the faster and slower sections. Also try a mid week steady run where you run sustainably for longer. A recovery run should be super easy and comfortable. Think of having an aim for every run you do.
What about race pace, how does that fit in? Well is depends on what distance you are racing. For a marathon race pace will be somewhere between easy and steady. For a 5k, with training, tempo pace for the whole distance should be achievable.
If you have any questions about pacing just drop me a line!