Learn How Fast You Should Run?

May 17 | Posted by The SportsAndFamily.com Staff | Tips

How can you calculate how fast you should be running? You might think that the answer would be easy to find, and somehow fit neatly into an equation that factored your level of running experience in with distance and time. It seems like the right approach and certainly looks good on paper, but unreliable because it fails to take into account the individual health characteristics of each runner. Since no two people (much less an entire population of runners) will weigh the same, have the same blood pressure or have recovered from illness or injury in exactly the same manner, it would be impossible to come up with a generic answer.

The speed at which you should be running is dependent upon the personal fitness goals that you have set for yourself as a runner. If you have started running as part of your fitness training routine, then it’s likely that the frequency that you run is more important than the actual speed, and sports training while preparing for a 5k or 10k race is geared toward maintaining and increasing speed. Once you have determined what you want from your running program the steps towards achieving these goals become more clearly defined.

Jogging or running at a relaxed steady pace shouldn’t be misinterpreted as a level for new or novice runners. Running at an easy relaxed pace is actually the foundation for all levels of fitness and sports training because it offers continuous conditioning benefits without the excessive exertion and body strain of faster paces. Runners preparing for a race will vary their weekly workouts by incorporating two or three days of faster paced running for the maximum conditioning benefits.

How fast is faster paced running? It’s generally a few levels of varying speeds above a runners comfortable jogging pace. Runners in competition training try to integrate them all into their pre-race regimen because of the unique benefits of each level. Each level is determined and recognized by the physical effects that the increased exertion has on the runner, and notably as the level of speed and intensity increases the length of time that the pace can be maintained decreases.

Using your natural jogging pace as a starting point, ease into the next, slightly faster “tempo pace”. Your tempo pace is comparable to one step up from your steady jogging pace, a transitional increase rather than a sharp acceleration. The next speed level above your tempo pace is your threshold pace. Your threshold pace is the fastest speed that you can run and still control your breathing.

Faster than threshold pace running is VO2max pace, and it’s the slowest pace you can run while breathing as hard as you can. VO2max pace running can last between six and ten minutes and is usually done in intervals to avoid injury and total exhaustion. Beyond VO2max pace there is a speed level that is actually a range of speeds faster than VO2max and less than a sprint. Intervals at this level range between 200 and 400 meters or 30 and 80 seconds. The fastest pace, the sprint can only be maintained for up to 20 seconds.

There are race calculators available that will calculate target workout paces based on data from a previous race or an estimate of one. Whether you have access to a race calculator or not, you should be aware of how the intensity level of the workout affects your breathing to determine the best pace.

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