Pace v Effort

I wasn’t sure how this evening’s run would go after yesterday’s brisk walk in the rain. In fact, I almost didn’t go. My lower calves were feeling a bit tight and I was worried that I might aggravate the old achilles injury, but at this stage of the training plan the idea is to keep the pace fairly slow, so I figured I might as well give it a go. If it started to hurt while I was running, then I would simply slow down or stop. As it turned out though, my legs felt much better once I got going.

The aim was to run for 30 minutes between 6:40 and 6:45 minutes per kilometre and, for the first two kilometres, everything seemed to be going according to plan. The pace was comfortable and, with a good head wind to keep me in check, I managed to stay within range.

However, when I turned around to head back, the tail wind seemed to lift my pace a bit more than I would have liked. I wasn’t running any harder (if anything, it was much easier on the way back) but I just couldn’t keep the pace down.


In the end though, I realised that the pace itself isn’t too important; it’s the level of effort that counts. The whole point of controlling the pace is to make sure that I don’t push too hard and end up feeling too tired to train later in the week. So as long as I stick to an easy to moderate level of effort, then I should be ok. And, lets face it, a 26 km/h tail wind is going to knock at least a few seconds off anyone’s pace.

So, all in all, I’m happy with the result. My legs feel good, I don’t feel too tired and I’ve got tomorrow to take it easy before my next bout of speed training.

How do you plan your training runs? Do you aim to run at a particular pace or make a judgement based on the level of effort needed to complete the workout? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


12 thoughts on “Pace v Effort”

  1. Good job πŸ™‚ Doing a bit of speed work is important to me – helps with the endurance and a bonus is it increases speed. I do run to a plan but if I’m going slower and it’s taking a lot of effort I run to how I feel πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you. πŸ™‚ I love speed work too, but my main goal at the moment is to try to increase my number of running days per week, hence the slower pacing. In saying that, I’m starting to think that running by feel might be a better idea than worrying too much about staying within a particular pace range. I guess time will tell. πŸ™‚

  2. I struggle to run slower. My physio insists on a 6:30 pace for long runs (10km+) but I can’t help running quicker. Unfortunately that’s no good for my recovery and I end up hurting myself. Recently I ran 12km at a 6:54 pace (instead of a 6min pace) and I barely broke a sweat, it was really cruisy and enjoyable. I had a friend who kept me slower and it was a great run πŸ™‚

    1. Having someone to run slowly with sounds like a good idea. I usually get lost in my thoughts and the next thing I know I’m back up to my faster pace. In saying that though, I do find it easier to hold back on longer distances, and I do love those long slow runs. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m not sure if my input will be any help, because I never have any trouble not running fast. I just try to run for a certain length of time. In the army if I ran on my own, my rule was to run a little bit faster than I actually wanted to run. Sometimes, of course, that translated to “at all.” Now I don’t have any standards to meet so I run just for me. Eventually I will incorporate some speed work, mixing sprints and slower running, but I run by feel, not worrying what my actual pace is. I wish I still had a friend to run with, although I enjoy my solitary runs.

    1. Ha ha! I probably shouldn’t describe my running as ‘fast’; just ‘faster’ than it should be for these sessions. πŸ˜‰
      I also love running by feel. Sometimes it’ nice just to enjoy a run for it’s own sake, although I do like having the Garmin to tell me how I’ve done when I’ve finished. πŸ˜‰

  4. Nice run! I’m glad your calves behaved themselves. I wouldn’t worry about pace too much either, especially if it comes to you easily. If it’s there for the taking, I don’t think you’ll do any damage by just going with it. I love those runs when I think that I could really be going a little slower – after all, it’s a lot more painful when it’s the other way around. πŸ˜‰

    1. Ha ha! That’s so true. πŸ˜€
      I don’t usually mind about going faster than planned, but with trying to (eventually) increase the number of running days per week, as well as building up the distance again, I guess I’m just trying to be careful. πŸ™‚

  5. If you are aiming for middle distances like 5k/10k then the best bet is to do varied durations and speeds. I use HR zones 2 to 3 for longer runs. Zone 1 for recovery after a hard VO2 session. VO2 or speed session I do by…ahem…speed/pace. longer fairly brisk tempo runs I do by pace
    give those calves a good seeing to with a cheap spiky laundry ball

    1. Hi there. Thanks for the tips! I don’t use HR zones as I haven’t got a heart rate monitor (yet), but it sounds like a good way of doing it. Wish I’d known about the laundry ball before forking out on a foam roller though. πŸ˜‰

      1. foam roller is cool too…you can roll your itb’s too. look for an RPE scale diagram…you can train by those zones instead…same thing; different way of measuring

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