Knowing what pace to run different types of workouts can optimize your training.

Last month we talked about the value of long runs, and more specifically, what pace to run the different kinds of long runs at. But as you know, the long run is only one component of your training., How do you know what pace to run your other workouts to achieve your race goals.

Most folks simply try to get in a workout every week at somewhere around goal race pace, and run most of their other workouts at a fairly easy pace. While this will allow for some fitness gains, it’s not exactly optimal. Former Austinite and nationally-renowned coach Greg McMillan has developed a really fine race/training pace calculator that will help you determine what pace to aim for when doing different workouts.

Let’s say you’ve run a 41-minute 10K not that long ago, and your goal race is to run 39:30 for the 10K. Once you enter those figures into McMillan’s calculator, a wealth of knowledge is at your fingertips.

It’s starts with the simple fact that your goal pace for that time is 6:21 a mile. To achieve that you’ll do your easy runs at the following paces:

  • Recovery Jogs – 8:36-9:17
  • Long Runs – 7:34-8:49
  • Easy Runs – 7:31-8:30

Notable point: Many runners feel they need to do their easy runs at a harder pace—still trying to prove something. This is counter-productive. Note how the paces suggested here are truly easy for someone shooting for a 39:30 10K.

For his “stamina” workouts, McMillan’s calculator yields the following:

  • Steady-State Runs – 6:59-7:17
  • Tempo Runs – 6:41-6:57
  • Tempo Intervals – 6:35-6:51

Notable point: While these workouts are not all-out race pace, you’ll note that they are within about 20-30 seconds of your goal pace of 6:21 a mile. The idea of running workouts at this type of pace is to improve your ability to run a fast pace for longer. This pace will also develop your ability to judge the difference between a hard workout, and race pace.

And finally, here’s what the calculator comes up with for “speed paces.”

  • 400m – 1:26-1:31
  • 800m – 3:02-3:10
  • 1600m – 6:25-6:35

Notable point: Notice that the 400 and 800 paces are actually faster than your goal pace. That’s because they’re short enough to allow that. As you might expect, this type of running Improves your ability to run fast. It also maximizes oxygen delivery to the muscles and increases ability to remove lactic acid, and lastly, but very importantly, as McMillan points out, it “Develops mental toughness when facing severe fatigue.”

Give the calculator a shot. You’ll find it here, and it’s free to use. If you’ve been keeping your training super simple, you’ll probably benefit by getting a bit more scientific about it.

Upcoming races: Saturday, February 16, No Ego Perfect Love 5K at 9:00 a.m., Veteran’s Memorial Park, 2525 West New Hope Drive in Cedar Park. Sunday, February 17, the Ascension Seton Austin Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K. The marathon and half marathon start at 7:00 a.m., the 5K at 7:30 a.m. The race starts on the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.