RW's Training Pace Calculator

Calculate your training paces - just enter a recent race time

Posted: 5 November 2004

Train too hard, and you'll probably burn out or get injured. Train too gently and you simply won't make the most of your potential (but hey, that's okay).

Training by heart rate is one good way of getting it right (see the links at the bottom of the page). Using this calculator is another. Just tap in a recent race time, and press 'calculate'.

The calculator will automatically show how fast you should run the different components of a training week (though don't do them all in one week...)

Recent race length (you can use a decimal point, eg. 26.2):
My time (hours:minutes:seconds): : :
Display my training paces in:
Your easy run training pace is:
Your tempo run training pace is:
Your VO2-max training pace is:
Your speed form training pace is:
Your long run training pace is:
Your Yasso 800s training pace is:

The ingredients

Easy runs
Top coaches and exercise physiologists believe that most runners should do 80 to 90 per cent of their weekly training at the easy run pace (this includes your long runs, done at approximately the same pace). Easy runs build your aerobic fitness, and your muscular and skeletal strength. They also help you burn more calories and recover for harder workouts.

Tempo runs
Tempo runs help you improve your running economy and your running form. They are sometimes described as 'threshold' or 'hard but controlled' runs, and they will help you prepare for races of 10K to the marathon. Tempo sessions generally fall into one of two categories: steady runs of 2 to 6 miles; or long intervals with short recoveries. Here's an example of the latter: 4 x 1 mile at tempo run pace with 2 minutes of recovery jogging between efforts. You should do tempo runs no more than once a week, and they should make up no more than 10 to 15 per cent of your total training.

VO2-max runs
VO2-max training helps you improve your running economy and your racing sharpness. These sessions are sometimes called 'intervals', and are most useful when you are preparing for a race of 5K to half-marathon. Here's an example of a good VO2-max workout: 6 x 800 metres at VO2-max pace with 4 to 6 minutes of recovery jogging between efforts. You should do VO2-max workouts no more than once a week, and they should make up no more than 6 to 10 per cent of your total training. (When you run these workouts, you are running at or near 100 per cent of your maximum oxygen capacity, which scientists call VO2-max.)

Speed-form runs
Speed-form workouts help you improve your running economy, form and leg speed. These are also interval sessions tailored to help you prepare for races of 800 metres to 5K. Here's an example of a good speed-form workout: 8 x 400 metres at speed-form pace with 3 to 4 minutes of recovery jogging between efforts. You should do speed-form sessions no more than once a week, and they should make up no more than 4 to 8 per cent of your total training.

Yasso 800s
Yasso 800s are an invention of Runner's World US writer Bart Yasso, who has run more than 50 marathons and ultramarathons. They're simple: if you want to run a marathon in 2:45, 3:29 or 4:11, you should train to the point where you can run 10 repetitions of 800 metres in the same time: 2:45, 3:29 or 4:11. The only difference is that your marathon time is hours:minutes and your 800 time is minutes:seconds. Bart suggests doing Yasso 800s once a week as part of your marathon training. Start with perhaps 4 x 800 and build up to 10 x 800. Between the 800s, take a recovery jog that lasts as long as your 800s. A good Yasso 800 workout: 6 x 800m at Yasso pace with recovery jogs between the 800s.

long runs
long runs form the foundation of all marathon training programs. long runs build everything from your confidence to your discipline to your fat-burning. So, even when you're not training for a specific marathon, it's a good idea to do at least one semi-long run a week. Because long runs are done at a relaxed pace, there's great latitude in how fast you actually run. In general, we believe that slower is better than faster. Let your long runs be your slow runs, and save your legs for other days of the week when you might do tempo runs or maximum-oxygen runs. But there are a thousand theories about how to do long runs, none of which have yet been proven superior to the others. The important thing is building up the distance and training your body to keep going for 3, 4, 5 or however many hours it's going to take you.

Putting it all together

Don't overdo your training!

Hard days
We recommend that most beginner and intermediate runners do just two hard days a week. More advanced runners can do three hard days if they're careful. Each of the following is a hard-day workout: tempo runs, VO2-max sessions, speed-form workouts, Yasso 800s, long runs.

Hard days/Easy days
A hard session should usually be followed by one or (even better) two easy day sessions. Easy days can include rest days and cross-training days.

Rest days
Most beginner and intermediate runners should run no more than 4 to 6 days a week. We recommend one or two rest days, when you do no training at all (or just take a relaxed 30-minute walk) and one or two cross-training days.

Cross-training days
The world of cross-training has expanded dramatically in recent years. While research indicates that cross-training probably won't make you a faster runner, it can make you a stronger and healthier and less injury-prone runner. Runners do best with cross-training exercises that are non-weight-bearing. This includes swimming and aqua-running, strength-training, bicycling and rowing. We also like non-impact exercises, which include nordic skiing, elliptical training and step climbing.

Troubleshooting: This calculator uses JavaScript. If it isn't working for you, check the following: is your browser JavaScript capable? (Most 3.0 or newer browsers are.) Is JavaScript active? (Check your preferences.)

Calculator programmed by Dan Burfoot.

Previous article
New Book! The RW Guide To Running
Next article
Relocation, Relocation


Discuss this article

Nice feature.

My easy and long runs are quicker than suggested.

My speed work is slower than suggested.

Maybe I am not trying hard enough?
Posted: 05/11/2004 at 19:52

Same here.
And I thought I was trying hard, too.
Posted: 05/11/2004 at 20:21

I put in my 3k race time from today and all I can say is eeekkkk!!!! no way could I do the sprinting pace they suggested or the tempo pace. easy and long runs fine.

Maybe thats why I am useless at short races like the 3ks and 5ks no sprinting speed.
Posted: 05/11/2004 at 20:24

Ok I can do the speed but only for short distances. To be fair I haven't done any track work so haven't tried any of the faster paces.

The reason I know I can do the faster paces is that after some steady runs, I do 5 - 10 intervals of 1 minute. Legging it each time. Poor technique I suspect. But I have been down to 6:30 min/miling. But that is what 150 - 200 yards.
Posted: 05/11/2004 at 20:33

Handy tool - I tend to use macmillan's but this is nice & straightforward for a simple soul like me to refer to, especially those scary faster paces!
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 07:50

I can't get it to work! Put in recent distance & time data, click calculate, nowt happens.
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 08:34


There is a line about troubleshooting at the bottom of the page.

Something about having Javascript working on your browser.
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 09:15

Sam - the 2 statements in your first paragraph go hand in hand.

It is a common mistake for people to run their `easy' runs too fast which then means they don't get the full benefit from the fast stuff.

I'd recommend running at no more than 70% HR max on your easy days.
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 09:19

Possible BR

I admit to not having a working HRM so go by my perceived effort.

I find when I went by the HRM, I am meant to go no faster than walking for what was then described as fat burning range (60 - 70%). Having said that when I first got a HRM about 7 years ago, I went on the 220 rule for max HR. Also my HR would shoot up for the slightest effort. This made me downhearted so haven't used the HRM since.

I think it is also possible that I am not trying hard enough on the speed stuff because I have too many perceived obstacles, e.g. roads to cross, people in the way, cars to avoid etc

Once I get the logistics sorted out by saying go down to a track, I will be able to try out the speed sessions properly.
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 09:38

Well I just put my times in and the returns for different paces are pretty much what I do now

Must be doing something right .......
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 09:56




No wonder I get so frustrated with this 70 per cent lark. ALL my runs are tempo runs, apparently!!


Right - after Grim I'm going to do this "base training, please pass" malarky for a few months, see what happens.
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 14:13

Thanks Sam P, I checked that and all looks OK but still nothing happening.
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 14:53

Sorted! It just didn't like Netscape. Tried again using Internet Explorer and it worked instantly.

Posted: 06/11/2004 at 15:09

Great article.

I have struggled with books and the like in trying to calculate what I should be training at for rep sessions. This makes it really easy. It also identifies areas where I am lacking. So Thanks RW
Posted: 06/11/2004 at 17:53

I tend to turn off at this stuff - too techno for me and I just like running. But now its there in my face I'll try some of the suggested times out (can I really run at 6:45 mins/mile pace for ANY distance??!!).

Hey, I'm on a roll: 3 10k PBs in a row so I need to do somrthing to keep it going . . .
Posted: 07/11/2004 at 13:27

I'm impressed with it.
But it says I'm running my long slow runs too fast, but I feel comfortable running at this pace and awkward running too slow. Should I go comfortable or not???
This is a long standing debate with all in the club.
Posted: 07/11/2004 at 14:15

is this going to help me get my marathon time under 4.30 . doing speed work at 8.28 min mile fills me with dread!
Posted: 07/11/2004 at 18:28

Like others, it says I run my long runs too quickly. But I get bored if I run at over 9 m/m for long! Then my mind wanders and next thing I know I'm running more quickly again.
Posted: 08/11/2004 at 09:58

I know exactly what you mean!!!
Posted: 08/11/2004 at 10:41

lol, just put in my 1200m time I did in training last week (3:25) which wasn't quite going flat out and apparently my "easy" runs should be at 6:46 pace... My 10k race pace is only about a minute quicker than that :S.
Posted: 08/11/2004 at 14:24


Trouble is at 70% MHR I know people who wouldn't be running for most of the time...
Whereas 70% of Heart Rate Reserve is right on what they do their LSD at.

190*.7 = 133

((190-60)*.7)+60 = 151


205*.7 = 143.5 (waaaaay to slow)

((200-33)*.7)+33 = 150

Its simple everyone should train at 150 bpm :-)

Posted: 08/11/2004 at 17:08

It looks like the reason it doesn't like netscape/mozilla/firefox, is that the form uses a javascript reserved word "long" in the "input1" form. Change that to xlong and it works.

Posted: 08/11/2004 at 17:53

Everyone should train at 150bpm - Bl**dy Hell!!! That only leaves me with 10bpm left to crawl into my coffin
Posted: 08/11/2004 at 18:16

Just wondered if anyone knows? if you train at the paces illustrated how long using this schedule would you move to the next level? Should you reevalute after every race or once a week or month ??

As in if your easy run pace is 8.00min per mile how long after doing the suggested paces would it go to 7.50 per mile???
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 10:07

I'm in just about the same position as everyone else. I really don't think that I could ever reach the 'fast pace' suggested - in fact, I thought the whole point of entering a recent race time was that it was just that - a RACE time. If I'm not pushing myself in a race, why bother? I don't have the problem of worrying that I'm running too fast/too slow on my longer runs though. I enjoy kicking back, not worrying about my speed every now and then and just relaxing. That's why I run after all.
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 14:47

Sam P, you need to get hold of a copy of a book called Heart Monitors for Idiots, I've forgotten the authors name but it is brilliant. He explains the 65-70% long slow run principle and how to work out your own min and max rates. He also says it's normal to have to walk bits of your first few slow runs. This problem dissapears as a result of doing the speed sessions harder than you are probably used to. It worked for me, I've knocked around 4 to 5 minutes off my 5 mile and 10 times over the last year.

Off to look at that calculator now
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 14:57

Blast! it doesn't work for me either, I'll try from home later.
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 15:06

Can someone tell me what you do if you haven't done a race recently? Would it work if you put in what you want to do or will that just kill me?
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 15:22

Spot on Clair
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 17:39

The book you need to read is Heart Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot by John L Parker. (£8 approx from Amazon).
I've just started with it, 1st couple of runs are humiliating but you are soon able to run faster without going over your 70%
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 18:26

I agree Flaikie1, Heart Monitor Training for the compleat idiot is a great read. It is a bit embarassing at first doing your easy runs so slow to keep your heart rate in range, but as you get aerobically more fit, it gradually becomes so much easier to keep within your ranges. As a result all your pace times get faster but the downside is you have to work harder to get your heart rate up in tempo runs etc. I highly reccommend it, it certainly helped me.
Posted: 09/11/2004 at 21:00

how do Yassos work with half marathons.
do you run for half the time or do you run only half the repetitions
Posted: 16/12/2004 at 15:49

I would still do the 800m but split the time to equate it to a half marathon.
I think if you only ran 400m you would go far too quick, however, I can do 400m in 1.30 minutes which is my half marathon time, so now I'm confusing myself!!!!!
Posted: 16/12/2004 at 18:12

Does this feature still work. I press calculate after putting in the required information and nothing happens!
Posted: 16/12/2004 at 20:34

Ok - just done it!
Posted: 16/12/2004 at 20:38

For the speed work, try going to a track. I was amazed how much faster I can run on a track, when I cannot the see highway stretching out before me. the payback is that later, in road races, you know what running fast feels like, and you can drag it out of yourself. A lot of this is traning the mind as much as the body.
Posted: 27/01/2005 at 13:34

I tried 'Heart Rate Monitor Training for the Compleat Idiot' and I got slower !
It was embarrassing for the first couple of weeks but could soon do the 70% runs easy enough. Looking back at my race times for that year though they've been the slowest of my running career.

These days I just tend to do mostly run hard and take days off rather than doing equal amounts of slow runs. I occasionally do slow runs with friends or do long runs at a more leisurely pace. Since I've adopted this strategy my race times have improved a bit. And the great thing is that you don't need to run with that damn contraption on !
Posted: 29/01/2005 at 20:42

I have Internet Explorer 6 and just can't get this calculator to work.... Can anyone brainy help?
Posted: 12/04/2005 at 23:50

Give us a clue, what happens? The calculator needs javascript to work, and anyone sensible disables javascript. Have you?
Posted: 12/04/2005 at 23:54

Foo Bar cheers for replying so quick - don't laugh but I put the minutes in the hours - no wonder it never worked!
Posted: 12/04/2005 at 23:59

See more comments...
We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.