When you first start running, it’s easy to let excitement get the best of you and head out way too fast. Before you know it, you’re out of breath after barely covering any distance at all. You’re forced to slow down, and say goodbye to any thoughts of maintaining a consistent running pace.
What is running pace?
The term running pace refers to the average speed at which you run. It is usually referenced in a minute-per-mile format, referring to the number of minutes it takes you to run a mile. The more minutes it takes to run a mile, the slower your running pace.
For example, runners often refer to their pace as 8 minutes, 10 minutes or 13 minutes. These numbers mean that it takes them 8, 10 or 13 minutes to complete a mile. On the treadmill, running pace appears in a miles per hour format, the same way it is in a car, referring to how many miles you can run in one hour.
Running at a 6 mph pace means that you can finish 6 miles in one hour, or 60 minutes, which equates to a 10 minute-per-mile pace.
Determining running pace may sound confusing when you discuss the nitty gritty details, but most runners use it only as a way to evaluate their progress, maintain consistency, and find other runners who are similar to themselves.
How do I know if I’m running the right pace?
It can often be tricky to know whether or not you are running the “right” pace. In general, most runners want to find a pace that they can maintain over many miles and long periods of time.
This means finding a running pace that is challenging yet achievable to help you make the most of your workouts. Most runners complete different workouts at different running speeds depending on the distance, intensity and purpose of the run.
However, when they refer to their running pace, they are sharing the average pace at which they complete the majority of their runs and races.
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to know if you’re running at the right pace. The right running pace is a pace that you feel you can maintain for miles. You’re breathing is consistent and easy, and you’re able to hold a conversation without much strain.
What pace should I be running?
Even with a wealth of knowledge about running pace, most runners still find themselves questioning what pace they should actually be running. It’s easy to second guess yourself when you see others out there running much faster or slower.
But remember, every runner is different. What makes this sport so unique is the fact that it is all-inclusive. Whether you run a 5 minute mile pace or a 15 minute mile pace, you are still a runner. Every body is different, so comparing yourself to others will only set yourself up for failure.
So ultimately, what pace should you be running? This depends on your goals, fitness and experience level. Luckily, there are a few simple guidelines that can help you find your perfect running pace.
How to Find a Good Running Pace
When you are just starting out, you’ll likely find that your runs vary in speed depending on the distance and how you were feeling, both mentally and physically. It’s much easier to run faster on short runs when your excitement level is high than on longer runs after a tough day of work.
However, once you start running more consistently and training runs occur more frequently, you’ll likely find that you settle into a similar pace each time.
One of the best ways to find a good running pace is to complete multiple runs of a moderate distance without monitoring your speed on a watch or app. Start your watch at the beginning of the run and keep it out of sight until you finish.
Head out to run a moderate distance – nothing so short that you are able to sprint the entire time, and nothing so long that it pushes your limits. Complete the same route and distance multiple times a week without checking your watch during the run.
>> Run based on feel (not stats) to settle into your perfect running pace.
During the run, try to settle into a pace that feels relatively easy. Check yourself to see if you are able to converse, make sure that your breathing settles into a rhythm, and try to finish the run with energy left over.
Record your average running pace for each of these runs. For example, try running 3 miles four times over the course of a week or two. Write down your average pace for each of these runs.
When we are faced with constant monitoring and technology on the run, it’s easy to try and adjust your pace to run faster or slower based on what you are seeing. However, when we run without any guidelines or monitoring, we are much more likely to respond to our body’s cues and settle into a rhythm that feels good.
Once you’ve found your running pace for moderate, easy runs, you’ll be able to use this pace to calculate goal race paces, hard workout paces, and long run paces. There are many running pace calculators available for free to help you determine these numbers.
Running Pace Calculators
Here are a few running pace calculators to help you find your running pace for specific runs and workouts. These pace calculators are all free resources that you can as many times as you want!
- Cool Running Pace Calculator
- Active Running Pace Calculator
- Runner’s World Running Pace Calculator
- Strava Running Pace Calculator
These pace calculators can be incredibly helpful for your very first race, when you are looking to run with a pace group, or when you’re hoping to kick things up a notch for a new PR but aren’t sure what goal to aim for.
However, keep in mind that while these running pace calculators are a handy tool, they can’t tell you everything. These pace calculators don’t know your history with running, your current fitness level, or how you feel when running your regular pace.
Each runner is different, so use these pace calculators to give you a rough baseline of a good running pace, and then tweak it on your own as you progress through training. Don’t get so set on running a specific pace that you wind up injured or lose enjoyment of the sport.
Finding a good running pace is a process that takes time, consistency and patience. Over the years, your perfect running pace will fluctuate depending on your current fitness level and training routine.
Adjust your running pace as needed, and remember that the perfect running pace is one that you can maintain and enjoy for the long run.
More tips for finding a running pace:
- How to Run Faster: 6 Tips to Increase Running Speed
- What Speed Means to Mean – for All the “Slow Runners”
- 5 Reasons to Embrace Easy Running