I’ve seen a lot of articles lately talking about how most people aren’t running their hard workouts fast enough and are running too fast for their recovery runs, and that a lot of us tend to maintain about the same pace for all of our runs. That’s great for someone who’s just looking to increase their mileage or is new to running, but if you’re looking to get faster and stronger, you should incorporate different types of runs like hills, intervals, tempos, and long runs into your training.
While I did start incorporating speed workouts into my training last year, my problem is that I never know exactly what paces I should be aiming for during my speed workouts (tempos and intervals) or how slow I should be running on my recovery days! So I was so excited when I saw on another blog recently that the McMillan Running Calculator can tell you the range of paces to hit for all types of runs, and I went over to check it out!
Using the calculator is easy: you input a recent race time and distance (I used my half marathon PR from October) and your goal race time and distance (I’m shooting for a 4:03 or so for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May).
The calculator then tells you how fast you should be able to run races of different distances at your current fitness level, and how fast you should be able to run various distances once you’ve attained your goal time. For example, my current fitness (based on my recent race time) allows me to run a 1:58:42 half marathon, but in order to run a 4:03 marathon, my half marathon time needs to drop to1:54:59. This step in itself can be a great predictor of how attainable your goal time is!
FYI, the closer in distance your recent race and goal race are, the more accurate the calculator will be (i.e. it’s hard to predict your current fitness for a marathon based off of a 5K time).
I found the first part of the calculator to be really accurate; my 5K and 8K PRs are within a minute of what I should be able to run, given my current half marathon PR. My marathon PR (4:43) on the other hand, is much higher than what I should be able to run, which I take as an indication that I need to push myself a little harder at that distance this year!
So now we go to the second part of the calculator, the section that lays out how fast you should be running different types of runs in order to meet your goal. The pace calculator takes into account your current fitness and where you want to be, and gives you a range of paces to work towards.
I found this section to be immensely helpful! Before each run, I determine what kind of run it’s going to be (for me, Tuesdays are usually tempo/interval, Fridays are pace runs, and Saturday is my long run day – Mon/ Wed are recovery or steady state), and use the calculator to figure out how fast/ slow I should be running.
So what do you do if you don’t have a recent race time? You can still incorporate speed workouts like intervals (try running 400 meters (quarter mile) at a fast pace followed by a slow recovery jog for a few minutes, and repeat 6-8 times) and long runs and work towards a race. Once you finish a race, use the calculator and figure out how to improve for next time!
Knowing what paces I need to hit has really pushed me to run my intervals/ tempos a little faster, and take my recovery runs much slower. I think this calculator will help me to be smarter about my training and make me a better runner :)
Do you vary the pace of your runs?
What’s your favorite type of run? I love interval workouts on the treadmill, they go by so fast!