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How to Pace Yourself

Learning to run properly can be challenging enough, which is why learning to how to pace yourself is important to get right.

If you’ve ever laced up your shoes and headed out the door unsure of what pace to run; you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help you figure out how to pace yourself.

Whether you’re a beginner, elite, or anywhere in between, we can all face the same problem in any given week. The schedule says Tuesday should be hard, Thursday should be steady, and you have heard that most of your long runs should be at an easy effort. You find yourself asking as you run down the road, what is hard and how should this feel? How can a long run ever be easy?! No matter how slow I run, it NEVER seems easy!

Here’s an easy way to figure out and look at effort levels.

Contrary to popular belief this sport doesn’t have to be exhausting, and each run shouldn’t leave you tired for days. Your early runs where you’re learning to cover distance and time should be completed at the speed of chat. Meaning you should be able to talk to the person next to you while running. This is called the “talk test” and is one of the most common ways to gauge effort level.

For those who are more experience, running at “the speed of chat” is how your easy runs should feel in a training week. You should feel totally in control, relaxed, and able to talk while running. Easier to check while running with a friend, but if you’re by yourself, you may find you are running along the street talking to yourself; not a bad thing as long as it helps you gauge your effort! If you want to give this running a score as an effort level 1-10 (1 being the easiest), it could be a 6/10.

The next level

Steady running. This is the backbone of training for the more experienced. It’s not complicated but does require you to be completely honest. You can push this area too hard and run junk miles that leave you too tired for clever sessions that we’ll cover next. This area is perhaps a 7/10 on your scorecard and is still conversational, although the chat is slightly strained.

Threshold running

We can all train like Mo; even if you’re new to the sport, and this is how you do it. This is called “uncomfortable running” or “controlled discomfort.” The key is that you can still talk between each breath, but it’s only 3-4 word answer effort. If you can utter a couple of distressed words; you are working too hard, and conversely, if you can say most of a sentence, you’re not working hard enough. This is running uncomfortable, but with control! It’s certainly not sprinting or running to exhaustion.

You might only be ready to include a few 3-minute blocks of this in a run each week, but it can grow; you can build the volume over the months. We call this running the bedrock to becoming a better runner, and it feels like 8-9/10 and 3-4 word answer effort.

An experienced runner using a heart rate monitor might run near to 85% of their maximum heart rate to remain in this zone. To know exactly how high your heart rate should be; grab a lactate & Vo2 max test from your local Sports Science department or university.

A couple of examples of threshold running sessions are:

5 x 5 minutes at threshold effort built into a 45-50 minute run with a 90-second jog recovery between each block.

This can build to a 6 x 5 minutes then 3 x 10 minutes and eventually you could be running 25-30 minutes of continuous threshold in the last part of a 45-minute run each week. The key is to keep feeling like a 3-4 word answer pace and not progressively harder until you feel like you are in the final stages of a 5k or 10k. Stay in control.

Interval Training & 5K-10K race paces naturally follow on from threshold as being the next level of pain.

It’s time to visit the hurt locker; although if new to running, your 5k or 10k effort will be your easy running pace or maybe threshold if progressing and a few races further down the road.

To a certain point, how the 5K/10K effort or interval training feels is up to you. You could be wise and hold back slightly letting the pace and intensity prescribed build the pain for you, or you could be the headbanger who loves to hit it harder and hang on. The choice is yours but remember to be consistent in this zone.

It’s meant to hurt and sessions such as 6-8 x 1km or 6 x 4 minutes off 75-90 seconds recovery can hurt. They will boost your VO2 max, and make your heart stronger. Keep in mind though that you can’t visit this zone too often; maybe once a week in a training plan once already experienced, running threshold each week and feeling good.

Little Tip –

Join a running group, club, or friends to complete these sessions. Completing weekly interval sessions with others adds competition, company, and disguises the pain and mental strength required.

So next time you leave the house; have a planned route and know what you want from your training. Have a purpose and listen to your body.

Just remember these four levels/zones:

  • Easy Run – Fully conversational at the speed of chat and about 6/10 (60-65% max heart rate).
  • Steady Run – Conversational, controlled, but slightly strained and about 7/10 (70-75% max heart rate).
  • Threshold Running – Controlled discomfort and 3-4 word answer pace or 8-9/10 (80-85% max heart rate, but get tested to be sure!).
  • Interval Training & 5K/10K effort or quicker – No time to chat here and 9/10 or more as the session progresses. It’s 1 or 2 word answer time and perhaps more of a grunt (85 – over 90% max heart rate… ouch!)

Make every run count!

What’re Your Thoughts?

Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

You Can Run Like The Wind

Everyone can run faster if it’s something they really want. Whether you are new to the sport, or you’re a seasoned runner; there are many things you can do to up your game. Sure, you might not be giving Usain Bolt a run for his money anytime soon, but if you put the following tips into practice, you can run like the wind in no time.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Guest Post: 5 Best Foods to Combat Post-Run Inflammation

We’ve all been there: The muscle aches, the joint pains, even the tendonitis. While ibuprofen might be a useful aid to easing the pains associated with running, overly frequent use can actually be damaging.

So let’s go natural and hit up the kitchen. There are a whole range of foods that help battle the causes of post-run pains. Plus, I’m on board with anything you can eat!

Here are 5 of my favourite foods to combat post-run inflammation.

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Ben is a former semi-professional cyclist and current kimchi lover. When he’s not eating, or thinking about food, he’s writing about food over at The Online Grill.

Every Runner Needs To Read This: Easy Steps To Ensure You Avoid A Sports Injury

Running is one of my favorite sports. After all, it’s an excellent form of exercise for maintaining a healthy weight. However, it does come with the risk of potential injuries. In fact, half of runners will get injuries such as runner’s knee when they are out on the road! But often the injuries could have been prevented. Therefore, here are some easy steps to avoid a sports injury.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Are You a Short or Long Distance Runner

The most guaranteed way to run your personal best is to train in a manner that improves your weaknesses and race at a distance that plays to your strengths. Knowing whether you are a short or long distance runner can help you prevent injury, maximize your training, and enjoy your running!

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

What You Don’t Know About Pre-Workout Supplements

The number one reason anyone takes a pre-workout supplement is that they like what the supplement is claiming to do. To help you get the most out of the time you’re spending in the gym, or the most out of your run, by increasing your energy levels, muscle power, and endurance during your workout, but have you ever looked to see what’s in it? Most supplements on the market contain a mystery blend of ingredients ranging from caffeine to guarana to creatine, but do these supplements work and are they even safe to take? Here’s what you don’t know about pre-workout supplements.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

The Benefits of Foam Rolling

When it comes to how you feel post-run, do you feel okay? No real aches or pains, or at least none that are limiting your running? A question I see commonly asked is, “if I’m feeling good, why should I use a foam roller?” The benefits of foam rolling have to do with the mobility of the fascia, and here’s why that’s important.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

When Training Gets Tough

Can I be completely honest with you? This year has been awful training wise so far. I’ve been dealing with injuries back-to-back, and it’s not because I’ve been over-training… when I’ve been able to do so. I’ve logged fewer miles this running season than I did at this point last year, and I feel stronger than last year. I’ve spent close to two months in total down due to this injury, or that injury. This is when training gets tough.

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

What is a Negative Split and How to Improve it

A common problem every runner works on improving when training for a race is learning the art of the negative split. After all, it’s only human nature to want to run as hard as you can for as long as you can. But if your goal is to finish strong, or at all, then it’s better to ease your way out of the gates, and then gradually pick up the pace so that you don’t crash before you reach that finish line. So here’s the answer to many runner’s questions of “what is a negative split and how to improve it.”

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Ally Gonzales is the creator of RunningSoleGirl. The go-to place for everything healthy lifestyle and conditioning for running. She’s a runner, speaks a total of five languages, and is a soon-to-be college freshman majoring in Exercise and Sports Science.

Guest Post : Choosing the Right Gear For Runners

Back at it again with another guest post. This one has been in the works for a while, but it’s been worth it. Buying the right gear no matter your choice of exercise is important, but today we’re focusing on runners. If you’re wearing the improper clothes and/or shoes, a lot of things can happen. Chafing, blisters, and with improper shoes, a thousand things could happen. However, this little guide by Samantha should make choosing the right gear for runners pretty easy.

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Samantha Olivier
 has a B.S. in nutrition and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter at or in a tea shop.

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