In running pace is all about how fast you are moving and is usually expressed in relation to how fast you could run a mile, 10 kilometres (tempo pace) or even a marathon. The key word here is you. It’s all relative to your personal ability and current fitness levels.

When you begin to follow more structured training programs for running it becomes important to integrate different training paces into your regime. The purpose is to stimulate physiological adaptations as well as physical changes to muscles and tendons that can trigger improvements in running performance and technique. It also provides a welcome break from lots of tedious repetitive running at a slow speed – running a bit faster (relative to your regular jogging pace) from time to time is more fun.

Here’s a quick overview of how we define training zones:

Endurance Zone: Running at an easy effort for extended periods of time. Examples include easy runs and long runs.

Stamina Zone: Medium-effort, medium duration running. An example is a tempo run.

Speed Zone: Running at a high effort for a short duration. An example is a speed workout with repeats lasting one to five minutes.

Sprint Zone: Running at a very high speed for a very short distance. An example is a sprint workout with repeats lasting 15 to 40 seconds.

Train within the pace ranges that categorise the different zones and you’ll derive the specific benefits that those zones offer. Each and every run must have a purpose and you should know it. This isn’t meant to take the fun out of your training, but more to help you decide what is most appropriate for each workout so that you have more fun, reach your potential and race your fastest, when the time comes. A great way to figure out those paces is to pluck in some recent race times or a time trial result into one of the online calulators. My favourite is this one from the Hanson training group.

As you perform endurance workouts, our bodies adapts in various ways (physiologically and psychologically) to better handle this type of workout in the future. We experience this as an ability to run longer and longer with less fatigue.  If we run a few stamina workouts, our ability to run at a fast pace for a long time improves.  Run some speed workouts and our speed will improve in a similar fashion. The same goes with sprint workouts.  However, we each adapt to different types of workouts at different rates (and to varying amounts) so we need to take this into account to make sure our training is optimised. Broadly speaking there are 3 types of runner. 

The Speedster dominates his peers in any workout where the repeats are short and fast (15-minute race pace or faster which for many competitive runners is 2-mile to 5K race pace). Speed workouts and short races get the Speedster excited and leave him fatigued but not exhausted. Long runs, tempo runs, marathon training and longer races, however, take more out of the Speedster than a day of hard repetitions on the track. When comparing race results with his peers, the Speedster is often frustrated that he can perform so well at short races but as the distance increases, he gets left behind.

Endurance Monsters
For the Endurance Monster, long runs, marathon training, tempo runs and any workout at long distance race paces are a breeze and usually invigorating. The more miles per week the better is a common mantra for the Endurance Monster and she finds that she can almost double her 5K personal record (PR) in a 10K and nearly double her half-marathon PR in her marathon.  The Endurance Monster, however, finds it very difficult to get her legs to go fast. Short, fast training like speed workouts leave the Endurance Monster feeling deflated. Short races like 5Ks also leave her exhausted and sore.

Combo Runners
The Combo Runner is the most common type of runner. He performs fairly well in all types of workout – short/fast and long/slow. The Combo Runner also performs equally well in races of 5K to the marathon, placing nearly the same compared to his peers in each distance. No runner is perfectly balanced, however, so even Combo Runners may find some subtle tendencies toward one type of workout or race.  So you may be a Combo-Speedster or you may be a Combo-Endurance Monster.

fast running uphill

My experience has been that most runners don’t focus enough on the details of the key workouts that they do. They peruse the internet, or books, or magazines and find a plan to follow. They see speedwork, or intervals, or a tempo run and just go to the track or roads and run as hard as they can for the number of repeats or for the distance listed in the schedule. This is missing the point. You must know exactly what the purpose of each type of workout is and exactly what pace range and effort level is appropriate for you. This is the only way that you can improve the quality of workouts and thus receive the greatest adaptations from the training.

One thing that became apparent to me over the years was that people use lots of names for the same type of training. They’d say do 10 x 400m at “race pace” and they’d also say do 6 x 1 mile at “steady pace”.  I soon learned that you had to ask a few questions to figure out exactly what they were actually talking about. Knowing my weaknesses and by asking myself how I adapt and recover from various training has helped me set out pace ranges for workouts.

For example when I was running DCM 2019 I has a few paces worked out and learned off so no matter what run I was doing I could break the 1K pace down into 400M, 600M, 800M etc. This does not mean that for a 28K long run I always ran at 3.50 or 3.35 pace but I might do some sections at 10K pace but then drop back to easy. So on balance I was gettiing used to Marathon pace but not killing myself for 28K. Everything can be broken down to 400M blocks, which is one lap of an oval outdoor running track

Easy: No faster than 4.15
Long 3:50
Marathon 3:35
Half 3.25
10K 3.15
5K 3.08

The last bit of the equation is to go through which workout types fit into each zone. I’m not talking about heart rate training here, that would be a whole other book and I actually dont look at it during workouts.

Endurance ZoneStamina Zone

Speed Zone

Sprint Zone

  • Recovery
  • Long
  • Easy
  • Steady
  • Tempo
  • Fartlek
  • VO2 Max
  • Lactate Threhhold
  • Lactic Acid Tolerance Intervals
  • Neuromuscular Leg Speed Workouts

Endurance Zone

An easy un is a sustained run of a certain time or distance done at “conversation” pace. Exact easy run pace zone parameters can be based on how you are feeling but I like to place a cap on my top end speed, adapting throughout the year. Easy Runs and Long Runs do not require a warm-up. Recovery is typically slower than easy and used the day after a race or tough workout. 

A long run come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A “normal” long run is essentially an easy run but longer. Other long runs you might see in include: Long Runs with Surges, Depletion Runs, Marathon Pace Runs and a Marathon Pace Run with a progession. Each of those “hard” long runs dd a harder element to a typical long run that challenges the aerobic system much more than a normal long run does.

Stamina ZoneSteady means a sustained run at a pace the athlete could race at for 2-3 hours (yes- it’s a big range). I LOVE Steady Runs and feel they are often under-utilised. I would go as far as saying they are a key component of a good Marathon plan. Often experienced runners will do this mid week. Keep in mind that the pace is slower than Tempo.

Tempo runs are typically run at speeds from lactate Threhold (see below) to marathon pace. Often you will start off with a warm up and cool down for this type of run. Think of this as the pace you can maintain for an hour. For some that will be yopur 10K mile pace whilst for others it may be a 10K type effort. An example might be 2K Easy 6K at 5K pace and 2K easy. Speed Zone

If you’re like most runners, you want to run further and faster. We fill our training weeks with interval workouts, easy running and long runs. Many endurance and some combo runners will dread speed workouts.

Scientists define running economy as your oxygen consumption (VO2) at a given pace. The lower your VO2 at a given pace, the better your economy. One runner may have a VO2 of 55 at 7:00 pace while another may have 52. The second runner, then, has better running economy than the first — less O2 needed at a given pace.

Interval type VO2 max workouts are good for marathoners who want to speed up over shorter distances. The faster you run, the more lactic acid you build up, so your VO2 max becomes more important.  You can improve your VO2 max through interval training for sustained periods of time at intensities at or near your VO2 max, which is roughly 90 to 100 percent of your maximal heart rate.

Anaerobic fitness—or speed and power—is critical to distance running performance. The average runner thinks of factors such as VO2max, fat-burning capacity and running economy as being the keys to running performance and tends to forget about pure speed. But if you set aside your prejudices and look at the speed of world-class distance runners, you will see that pure speed is at least as important as the other performance keys. Most 2:11 marathoners are capable of running a sub-50-second 400m.It may seem strange that anaerobic training enhances distance-running performance when there is virtually no anaerobic component to actual distance racing, but it’s true. The primary reason appears to be that anaerobic training increases the bounciness of the stride, so that the feet come off the ground faster and more forcefully. This improves running economy, because half of the energy that propels forward motion during running is supplied not by the body but by the force of impact, and the less time the feet are in contact with the ground, the less of that free energy is lost.

In short, for runners the point of performing types of training that involve anaerobic metabolism is not to developing anaerobic metabolic capacity but rather to increase the speed and power characteristics of the muscle fibers. V02 Max intevals will be longer and Lactate Threshold or  Anaerobic workouts will be short. Lastyly Fartlek is a Swedish word that means “speed play.” Essentially fartleks are runs that include a variety of pace changes. We like them because they force us to go by effort instead of strictly by pace and distance. We do this type of run most Thursdays around the park or the Tesco lap. You can still figure out your on and off paces and stick to the ballpark pace.

Sprint Zone
Yes, most runners in the club are training for the 10K or Marathon but you don’t want to get stale either. Running 20-second repeats at your one-mile race pace (that’s the actual, realistic current pace at which you could race for one-mile) is a great way to keep on top of the speed component. Then you simply jog nice and easy for one minute before repeating the mile-pace for another 20 seconds and so on. You can add this at the end of an easy run.

Before every hard workout we you should do a warm-up and after every hard workout should have you do a cool-down. The warm-up allows your muscles, tendons and ligaments to loosen up before the workout to help prevent injuries. The cool-down allows the muscles, tendons and ligaments to relax to help avoid post workout stifness.Strides

When I say strides I am referring to a 75-100 meter run where you start out at a jog and gradually pick up the pace until you are running at about 85% of your max. You then slow it back down for the last 10 meters of the stride. Strides are a great chance to work on form and being fast and relaxed. Take your time in between each stride. No need to rush. I often take 1-2 minutes between efforts when I have the time. You can also run strides on hills. 

Rest Day
You would think this would be an easy one to explain but a lot of athletes screw it up! We believe in complete days o. They allow the body to not only rest but also to absorb all the training it has been taking on. A rest day is not a green light to go to the gym and make yourself hurt in the pool or on the elliptical machine. If ancillary work (weights, yoga, core, etc) are a regular part of your routine then a rest day can be a good day to do some of that type of exercise. But even then the work should be light. We are trying to re-charge the batteries…not drain them!