SmartCoach Pacing

Q&As with Amby Burfoot

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17/02/2008 at 16:01


My advice would be to use the threads on its a great running community and everyone is very freindly. If you have not used the site then have a look someone will guide you in the right direction.

Good luck

17/02/2008 at 18:07
Thanks I will try on there.
15/03/2008 at 17:38

Ruth, I've used Smart Coach to train for a 10k, having completed a 5k on a different programme. I had a few hiccups in my training by getting ill etc. but stuck with it, I was 1 week off completing the schedule because of being ill, but ran the race anyway. I'd never done more than 5miles and usually around 10.40 pace. I started out with a goal of completing in less than 60 mins, but accepted towards the end that if I could do it in 1hr 10 mins or less I'd be happy just to have done reasonably well. As it was, the adrenaline kicked in & I ran it in 58.24 with only 1 mile of the 6 under 10 mins - not something I'd have believed possible and something I have deliberately avoided doing in training - I knew I was capable of running faster, but not for very long stretches.

 Reading through this thread there's been a lot of critcism of smartcoach, and I kind of understand. When I started using it, I compared it's 5k plan to the one I was using & was baffled by it. Then I started messing about entering times I thought were better to see what changes it made. After getting the hang of what it was doing - starting you slower than you usually go, to work on endurance, and building up speed - I began to understand it. I tried different times/speeds/ easy/hard etc. and thought them all through. My main complaint would be that I can't see a way to change from 3 days training to 4 and I'd prefer to do 4 and spread my mileage over that (no real reason except I try to run at lunch time and so short of time mid-week), however, by using the easy or moderate settings I decided that I could shift up to 4 days a week shortening the timetable by a week or so IYSWIM.

I've now asked it for a half marathon plan based on my 10k time (not that I have a HM to run until next year), but wanted to see what it would do. The average pacing is good and manageable, and the speedwork is challenging - a tad faster than I ran today, but I know I can do it 'cos I was checking my pace regulary and know there were times I was hitting these paces and could have sustained them for longer if I'd had to.

So all in all, I don't think Smartcoach is as good as a real person, but if you're alone & needing goals - it works on getting you going further and my experience today makes me feel that's the best way to achieve. Timing can come after you know you can handle the distance easily.


04/04/2008 at 23:07

Hope this is not a really daft question, but when SmartCoach tells me to do 3 miles at 9:11 what does that mean? I understand I have to run 3 miles at 9:11 pace but what exactly is a 9:11 pace?

Hope someone can clarify for me


04/04/2008 at 23:26

9.11 pace means you run a mile in 9 minutes 11 seconds in this case you run for 3 miles and you  run each of the miles none stop at 9 minutes 11 seconds pace. does this make sense JaneyB?

Good luck with it

04/04/2008 at 23:32

A better way of it if you do not have GPS is, to map your route out on  maprunner or something similar and when you start running you reach your first mile at 9mins 11secs-your second mile at 18 mins 22 secs and your third at  27mins 33 seconds. You would then have completed 3 miles @ 9.11 pace 

It is just a guide line- it wouldnt matter if you were a few seconds each side of this time or even 5-10 seconds.  It is just the best pacing for you to allow sufficient recovery between runs and as not to over do it so you can not complete other training within the week.

Dont hesitate to ask any other questions.

05/04/2008 at 08:57

Thanks for that! funny how all it all makes perfect sense when you know the answer

Next question! I've previously completed a 10k and input my time for that in the calculations. My time for that was 1:00:20 and I'd really like to get under the hour when I next try. Does smart coach give me a training plan to match my last time or will it help me better it? Basically, can I use smart coach to improve my time or just to allow me to complete?



05/04/2008 at 10:00

This is a question I have asked myself Jane. If you input 1.00.20 it will base your training on times you are capable of doing. Obviously it will allow you to improve to a degree-but at what degree is the question.

 There are plans out there i.e sub 50 min scheduals sub 45 min etc but you do not know  when following smart coach what time it is aiming you towards. I have asked the question and had no answer. I am not fond of the smart coach because of this as you dont know if your following the right plan for you. If you notice though over time certain training runs get quicker-thus you improving  to a degree.

 If you want to acheive a sub 1 hour i could send you a link to a suitable plan to suit your needs? i would need a rough idea on how many miles you do a week and how many you would like to do and over how many days etc.

 If you decide to stick to smartcoach good luck

05/04/2008 at 10:48

Thank you I would appreciate the link, really would do my motivation a power of good to know I was actually improving!


05/04/2008 at 17:39

your best bet is probably right where you are Jane-

05/04/2008 at 20:09

"Next question! I've previously completed a 10k and input my time for that in the calculations. My time for that was 1:00:20 and I'd really like to get under the hour when I next try. Does smart coach give me a training plan to match my last time or will it help me better it? Basically, can I use smart coach to improve my time or just to allow me to complete?"

Jane, having used the SmartCoach to go from 5k to 10k, I then input my 10k time to train for another 10k and wanted to see what it would offer - having kept a copy of the original. The plan it's given me this time is definitely going to make me faster. The times I achieved in the first 10k were faster than I'd run in training - I guess because of the adrenaline. Therefore SmartCoach now appears to be of the opinion that I should be able to handle these times in training sessions (but in shorter bursts), building up the duration I'm running and the speed in various weeks. This leaves me feeling that I'll then run the next 10k actually ahead of this slightly when the adrenaline pushes me a bit faster again.

Not having got to that 2nd 10k I could be horribly wrong!! In which case I'll be gutted when my time doesn't improve, but I'm pretty confident with the training I'm doing at the mo' that it's going to leave me faster than previous.


21/04/2008 at 11:49

Obviously the odd one out here, the schedule I got for me was pretty much bang on.  I trained using the FIRST schedule for a marathon last year so got used to the tempo and speed sessions and yes they're challenging, but that's the point.  Given the alternatives I've looked at (halhigdon running six days a week - erm no) or the half marathons on here - I'm not a run/walk beginner so beginners too simple and the intermediate's too fast at the moment (am only 5ft after all so 9 min miles is a sprint for me!) and I don't see the need of going up to 16 miles LSR is really needed.

20/05/2008 at 17:05


 I've been looking at Smartcoach and do prefer the plans that are aiming me towards a specific finish time. So I had a look at the link you suggested and I've been looking at the 8 week, 5 days per week schedule:

 My question is - whereas the smartcoach explains exactly what each session means ie at what pace to run, this programme doesn't do that. So I find myself confused as to what it means by the following for example:

2-2.5M warm-up, then 10-12 x 400m or 80-90 secs, with 400m or 2-3 min recoveries, then 2.5M cool-down

I see that it means a 2-2.5mile warm up and 10-12 lots of 400m but at what pace do I run each 400m? Or is that what the 80-90secs is?

Also, where can I find out what it means by fartlek and tempo?

You'll have to excuse my ignorance. I did actually run the London Marathon last month but I followed a beginners 'time on your feet' schedule and it was very simple compared with this. My new aim to build up a bit of speed because I currently have the pace of a snail

Any help would be really really appreciated!


20/05/2008 at 20:51


If it is suggesting that you run 12x400m or 80-90 secs then i would be inclined to pace the 400m at that.

 Tempo runs- are typically run at 1% slower than race pace

Have a look at this- it may or may not help

 Fartleks-  are a run which you vary the pace for periods of time  i.e. very easy, fast, easy, fast, easy, fast, very easy etc. It is a continuous run with your recovery being the very easy/easy running.

You can do it anyway you like. One suggestion is 5-4-3-2-1. You run 5 mins hard followed by 3 mins easy, 4 mins hard followed by 3 mins easy, 3 mins hard/3 mins easy etc. 

You can play about with it.

 Hope this is of some help

21/05/2008 at 09:36
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, it is indeed very helpful!
22/05/2008 at 08:40
I wrote that wrong i meant 5 mins hard 5 mins easy 4 mins hard 4 mins easy 3 mins hard 3 mins easy etc
27/05/2008 at 13:58

Hi, only me again, I'm just looking ahead at some of the later weeks and it has me doing '5 x 800m or 3mins with 1000m or 5-min recoveries'. So basically is this saying that each of my 800m should take 3mins? And I should be doing 5 of them. And in between each lot of 800m I should do 1k and each of these 1k's should take 5 mins?

 So the pace at which I'm running the 800m lengths is basically 6mins to the mile? That is fast! I'm usually a 11-12 minute mile kind of girl!

28/05/2008 at 12:02
Thats exactly what the session is Christine  does seem quite fast, did you enter the details in correctly for a recent race time?
28/05/2008 at 12:07
i have just put in my details for a 10km in 45 mins and the fastest it expects me to do one of these sessions you mention is 3.08 and thats at its peak. I dont think you could or should be running the 800m at 3 min pace i think the 3 min pace is a general guidline if you do not have access to a track etc
29/05/2008 at 10:50

Hi again

 Sorry I'm think I'm being confusing talking about this on the SmartCoach thread but I'm looking at the article you mentioned. Training for a 10K in 8 weeks, 5 sessions a week.

I think if I had to do 5 lots of 800m at 3min pace I'd be physically sick, ha ha!

C x

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