What is a running pace? Frequently Asked Questions

Put simply, a running pace is the amount of time it takes you to run a certain distance. This is most commonly presented as the amount of time it takes a runner to cover a kilometer or a mile. Obviously, with those who are more competitive, running pace is important so that runners can understand how long it will take them to run distances. These distances can be a 5000 km distance (5K) or a marathon distance which is 26 miles. Therefore knowing your running pace can help you to understand your limits and the distances that you are most comfortable at.

The ‘limits’ aspect is really important. A running pace allows a runner to know when they are pushing themselves too hard or if they are not working hard enough. Knowing the optimal pace for yourself is important because it allows you to understand what you should be achieving as regards distance and time.

It's also important to understand the concept of ‘comfortable’ running pace. Once a runner understands this idea, it makes their running more pleasurable and also arguably a lot safer than it could be if the runner knew nothing about their pace.

Use this information to create an optimal playlist for your run.

Calculate your running pace

When running, make sure you run so you're not feeling pain or discomfort. Then, simply time your run, and work out the distance that you have run. Divide the time by the distance and you have your running pace. For example covering 2 miles in 20 minutes will give you a running pace of 10 minutes per mile.

Getting the pace wrong

If you know what your comfortable running pace is, you should then be able to make sure that every run you take part in is more fun than a struggle. However, if you run just a bit too much over your pace on a regular basis, this is a surefire recipe for disaster.

You will start to suffer fatigue, and even worse, you may suffer pain as your body rebels against the added demands that the faster pace requires. Also, as the problem persists, you could find yourself in a situation where you are doing more damage to your body rather than improving it or keeping fit.

Make sure you stay at the right pace so that you are comfortable with your running, while still pushing yourself so that you achieve a sensible heart rate and whatever fitness goals you have in mind. For example, if you're able to run reasonably comfortably and still lose weight, that is what is known as a comfortable running pace.

Getting the pace right

The most successful runners are those who get the pace right. They will be able to cover any distance, within reason, with ease. They will not be over stretched and will suffer fewer injuries and discomfort. This is because they have worked out what pace is right for them, and they stick within the limits.

It is generally recommended that if you run on a daily basis, you should try and run a little bit slower or for a shorter distance every day. This allows you to stay well within your running pace.