Finding Your Pace

Training with a group like CARA has many benefits, including the accountability that develops by running with the same people every week. But athletes may not be aware that running isn’t quite as simple as lacing up a pair of shoes and hitting the pavement. Every workout should have a goal, and with it, a distinct pace. That means you’re not running a long weekend run at the same speed of a 5K race. Learning your own internal gears – and when to use them – will keep your body healthy and help you get the most out of each workout. Let’s pretend you ran your most recent 5K at 10:00/mile. That means you’ll want to run your long, group runs at a slower pace, perhaps 11:00/mile or 12:00/mile. Meanwhile, you’ll want to do your speedwork sessions at a faster pace, aiming for a 9:00/mile or 8:00/mile. Everything depends on the type of workout you’re doing and how you’re feeling each day. Running every workout at the same pace isn’t good for your training and it isn’t good for your body, because you’re more likely to become injured and fatigued. Here are some of our tips for finding your gears.

Long and slow: This is your typical weekend run with your CARA pace group. These runs should be at an easy pace, where you can carry on a conversation the whole time without feeling winded. Most of the time, you should finish these workouts feeling strong and like you can keep going.

Speedwork: These are high-intensity workouts where you need to push yourself. The distances (or intervals) are short, so you can lay the hammer down without getting hurt. Speedwork can take many forms and usually incorporates periods of high-effort followed by a short recovery where you can walk or jog, before picking up the pace again. Whether it’s a set of 400m repeats at 90 percent of your full-sprint effort, or something like a fartlek run where you have sprint for a short, unspecified period of time before recovering, you should be tired by the end of these workouts.

Race pace: Race pace is somewhere in between the two. It should be virtually impossible to run a 5K at the same pace as your half marathon. Meanwhile, if you can run a 5K at your speedwork pace, then you probably can go faster during those mid-week workouts.

Not sure what pace you should be running and for what? Check out the CARA calculator.

Still have questions? Or are you worried about a nagging training injury? Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200 to schedule an appointment to see one of our sports medicine specialists.