Run - Pace Training Zones

Run session notation

 Shorthand Element Description  Translation 
  • E
  • M
  • T
  • I
  • R
  • W
  • Capital letter is the training zone which determines intensity
  • E - Easy
  • M - Marathon
  • T - Threshold
  • I - Interval
  • R - Repitition
  • W - Walk
  • 5E
  • Number signifies the distance in kilometres (km)
  1. 5km @ E pace 
  • 5E + 1mT
  • The 'm' signified the number relates to time in fractions of minutes 
  1. 5km @ E pace
  2. 1min @ T pace
  • 2x{5E +1mT}
  • 2x{ } signifies a number of repetitions  as defined within the brackets
  1.  5km @ E pace
  2.  1min @ T pace
  3.  5km @ E pace
  4.  1min @ T pace
  • 2x{2x{5E + 1mT} + 3M}
  • Nested repetitions
  1. 5km @ E pace
  2. 1min @ T pace
  3. 5km @ E pace
  4. 1min @ T pace
  5. 3km @ M pace
  6. Repeat steps 1-5

Training Zones

These are the paces that I would want you to hit if you were running on a flat even surface on a non windy day. Your aim would be to run the total distance or time at an even pace. These paces are set by your performances in races or test sessions and reflect your current run fitness level. As you get fitter the pace values will get quicker.

When out on the road you will encounter hills and wind, therefore you will need to adjust your pace against your target
  • Uphill / Headwind: Actual Pace is less than Tgt Pace
  • Downhill / Tailwind: Actual Pace greater than Tgt Pace

Depending on the steepness of slope and/or strength of wind will determine by how much your actual pace will vary from target pace. In these instances you need to use RPE and HR as indicators of your intensity. The most common problem is athletes try and maintain the pace target when going uphill – your pace is allowed to drop.

Notes on E pace

E pace should feel real easy and you should comfortably be able to hold a conversation. As a guide HR will predominantly in Z1. and may drift into Z2: if you are running for extended durations; are running when tired from previous training; or using E pace as a recovery interval in conjunction with faster pace efforts.

Long run: E pace

At times you may feel a little more comfortable going a little faster (or slower) than E pace.  If this is the case then run at this more comfortable pace and this should fall in the range +/- 15 sec/km to stated E pace.  The important thing if going extra slow on an E pace run, is to make every effort to maintain good running mechanics.

Interval runs: E pace

If you are doing a run which contains any of the other training zones and the E pace interval 5 mins or less then do your best to stick to the designated E pace – try not to run faster this tends to be a recovery interval.  If the E pace interval is longer than 5 mins then follow the guidance for Long Run: E pace.

Notes on W pace

W pace has two meanings depending on when it is used:

Run-Walk strategy: W pace

W pace will have a pace target probably in the range 8:30/km – 9:30/km (this will be set by testing). This is a brisk walk. In races we will have an overall time target for the distance therefore the W pace needs to be consistent in order to define the required running pace.

Interval sessions: W pace

Used as a rest period between efforts there is no pace target – you can stop, move on the spot or walk slowly. For example if you are doing a series of 1km intervals at T pace with 1min at W pace then ideally just keep walking at the end of the interval to allow the waste products to disperse, if you were doing a series of 200m intervals at R pace with 2min at W pace then due to the higher intensity you would probably stop, catch you breath and then keep moving until the start of the next effort.

Using your Garmin to control pace

If doing a continuous run at a single pace ensure you set the Autolap feature to record laps every 1km. If doing a run using multiple training zones create a Workout for each change of pace – this way the Garmin will assist you in completing the session and also make post workout analysis simple. To help control your pace, ensure that your Garmin display shows: Pace – Lap and depending on the session type you will also display one of the following:

Pace  Instantaneous pace useful for intervals 
Pace - Average Average pace over entire workout – useful for long continuous runs or runs where you are using a run-walk strategy
Pace - Last LapAverage pace for previous interval – useful when you are doing multiple reps so you can review how you need to adjust the effort for the next rep to hit the target 

Track Running

If you are doing a workout on the track the GPS on the Garmin device is not accurate enough to record you running in the inside lane. In these instances do not use the pace or distance fields on the Garmin for guidance. There are markers on the track accurately defining distances every 100m so convert your pace target into time splits per an appropriate distance and use Time – Lap to guide your pacing. For example if you are attempting 400m in 90secs then you will complete each 100m in 22.5s so you want to go past each 100m marker in the following times which will allow you to adjust you pace appropriately.
  • 100m – 22.5secs 
  • 200m – 45secs 
  • 300m – 67.5secs 
  • 400m – 90secs 

Appendix: Training Zones

These notes are adapted from Chapter 2: Physiology of Training Intensities – Subsection: Training Zones – Page 34 - Daniels’ Running Formula 2nd Edition – Jack Daniels – ISBN 978-0-7360-5492-8

Different intensities are designed to challenge different systems of the body. Specific types of training (or training intensity zones) help a runner elicit the desired physiological response to them improve.

E – Easy

Warm-ups, cool-downs and long runs as “easy” in nature; they are, or should be, free from trouble or pain. E pace elicits desirable physiological benefits that build a solid base from which higher-intensity training can be performed. The heart muscle is strengthened, muscles receive increased blood supplies, and the working muscle cells increase their ability to process the oxygen delivered through the cardiovascular system. The benefits of E pace are more a function of the time spent exercising than the intensity, and the low running intensities are as hard as you need to go to get the benefits you want at the cellular level and in the heart muscle.

Heart Rate guidance – Z1-Z2: Cap any E pace efforts at the top of HR Z2

M – Marathon

Naturally, M-pace running is particularly useful for runners training for a marathon, but this pace might also provide nonmarathon runners an alternative to some of their easy runs, especially when conditions are good and there’s adequate time to recover for a subsequent quality session.

Heart Rate guidance – Z2-Z3: M pace is still an aerobic effort. Short durations (<30mins) M pace should sit in HR Z2 but for extended durations (>1hr) HR will drift into HR Z3. Cap HR on any M pace efforts at the top of HR Z3.

T – Threshold

There are two varieties of T pace running: steady, prolonged runs, also called tempo runs; and intermittent runs, also called cruise intervals, both of which are run at the same relative intensity. Threshold pace is great for improving endurance. Being at the same intensity doesn’t always mean being at the same speed (due to headwinds, hills, poor footing, for example, which all affect speed without changing intensity), but you would like it to be the same speed when conditions make it possible. The intensity of choice here is a speed of running, beyond which blood lactate progressively accumulates to a point where activity must be terminated. Subjectively, threshold intensity is “comfortably hard”

Heart Rate guidance – if you run at T pace for an hour you should be running in HR Z5a – lactate threshold heart rate. Depending on the duration of your T pace interval and the pace you were running at before you started the interval HR will rise to HR Z5a.

I – Interval

The purpose behind interval pace (I) training is to stress the runner’s aerobic capacity – more through a single session of intermittent running than could be accomplished in a hard continuous run.

R – Repetition

R training involves repeating a particular workout a number of times for the purpose of becoming comfortable running fairly fast, feeling light on the feet and efficiently running at race pace – or sometimes even faster than the pace used in longer races. The intensity for repetition training is typically race pace or a little faster for a given distance.

The purpose of R-pace training is to improve economy and speed.