How many different paces do you run in training?

Did you get to watch any of the NYC marathon live or in person yesterday? Congrats to all the runners!


I was cheering and tracking many friends out there, and am slowly feeling the marathon mojo making a come back… but not yet. I’m way to excited to NOT have a marathon to train for this winter! Maybe next fall?

The last month has been a cycle of racing hard and recovering hard for me…. the Maine half marathon, then two weeks of recovery, the Runner’s World Festival Grand Slam, with another week of recovery, the Perfect 10 and again, a week of recovery.

RW 10k race pic

I was checking out my logs and noticing the wide variance of paces… from 6:30-7:20 range during the races to 10:00+ easy miles during recovery.

This was not always the case.  My logs from training just 4-5 years ago were extremely consistent.  I ran nearly everything between and 8:00 and 9:00 pace.  If I felt good, it was closer to the 8:00 pace.  If I was tired, it was a 9:00 pace.

The interesting thing is that my race pace then was also an 8-9 minute mile!  When I began adding more variance with harder days and easier days, my times began to drop.  With the harder days in my schedule, I first resisted the idea of going slower than 9:00 minute pace but some days that was all my body could do.

I don’t think I believed that this theory really worked until I experienced it.  It’s so tempting to push a little more on easy runs (and less on hard runs).

I was reminded of this again recently speaking with elite runner Tina at the Maine retreat, who runs 1-2 minutes slower than marathon pace on easy runs, and listening to stories of elites at the Runner’s World Festival weekend.

I’m not saying my training is where it needs to be, by any stretch.  But it’s been something I’m reminding myself of again lately… that even those slow, easy runs have a purpose (as well as rest days) to allow full recovery so that we can run our best.

What’s in your training log? This is a great place to start tweaking if you’re not seeing the results in training that you want to see (assuming you run more than 3 days per week.  You can also see improvement with 2-3 hard runs and easy cross training between like on the FIRST Training plan.)

Do you run a lot of runs at the same pace or do you have a wide range?

How often do you leave the watch at home?

28 thoughts on “How many different paces do you run in training?

  1. I watched bits and pieces of the marathon and it was a lot of fun. NYCM was my first marathon but I’m glad I wasn’t running this year! I’ve come to the realization that taking easy days really easy and hard days hard is the best method for me.
    Hollie recently posted..Training Log: Sick and RnR PhillyMy Profile

  2. I am just starting to work on running different paces. It IS hard to really slow down for easy runs. Yesterday on my long run I failed to do so because I felt good, so I charged through the last few miles. I’m using a Runner’s World training plan to try to get into the habit of varying my pace. hopefully it results in faster race times!

  3. When training for road races, I definitely had my long slow run on the weekends and then several shorter, faster runs during the week. However, now that I am mostly training for trail runs, I generally do one to two long slow (hilly trail) runs on the weekend and 2 – 3 shorter “faster” runs during the week. However, the faster runs are now around 8 – 9, whereas they used to be between 6 – 8 depending on the goal (speed, etc). I was actually just looking back at my log as well and was wondering if I would be a faster trail runner if I did at least one day of true speed work again.
    Travel Spot recently posted..Looking Back: OctoberMy Profile

  4. During marathon training, I’m pretty guilty of running every run at a similar pace, with the exception of long runs which are slower. I’m looking forward to thinking about training for a half again and adding in some faster pace runs. Not sure when that will be…but probably the spring!
    And yes, I loved watching the NYCM coverage yesterday. My Mom was running so there was lots of cheering happening at our house even if we were hundreds of miles away 🙂
    Christine @ We Run Disney recently posted..Funemployment in a nutshellMy Profile

  5. I was out there cheering this time around and goodness NYCM gives me all the emotions!

    I have started taking a page from all my speedier friends books and really embracing the easy recovery runs and toning back the long run. I go garmin less for the easy ones usually now as well and gauge effort. I feel like it is working because I PR’d the 10K this past weekend and ran a good 5K the week before. I should be able to get my half back under 2 by next month if all continues well!
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted..NYCRUNS Haunted Island 10KMy Profile

  6. This is something I really need to work on, but it’s very challenging for me. I’m in the same place you used to be, with most of my runs between an 8 and a 9 pace. I really struggle with doing my easy runs as easy as I should. I know if I did that, I would be able to go harder on the hard days. I’m a hard nut to crack, though! I’m going to keep working at it! Thanks for this post!
    Molly @ Motherhood and Marathons recently posted..How Running Saved My LifeMy Profile

  7. I almost never leave the watch at home, but I have done better at varying my paces lately. That is actually the reason I don’t leave my training watch at home. If I did I am almost positive I would end up in that 8-8:10 pace range. That is the pace my body just seems to go to, but I have been really trying to not do that all the time. I have made my recovery runs more like 9 minute pace or slower if I need. I think it has helped!
    Jen@milesandblessings recently posted..4 weeks to go!My Profile

  8. Most of my runs are in the 11-minute pace, with my long runs closer to 11.5 minutes, but when I do speed work, that’s when I get to play in the 10’s and sometimes the 9’s. I do think it’s worked for me to not run the same pace, even though I was faster back then. I feel like I’m a smarter runner now, thanks to my coach!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted..Weekly Meal Plan for 11/1/15My Profile

  9. I am a HUGE proponent of easy days being truly easy. In fact, at this stage, I don’t track or go after any certain pace in any run. I let my body dictate what I’m after and it really has worked beautifully for me, especially from a staying healthy standpoint.
    misszippy recently posted..My podcast is live!My Profile

  10. This is so spot on Laura! Once I started varying my paces during training and becoming more disciplined about where my paces needed to be I began to see my times dropping. You are crushing it this fall! So awesome!
    Sandra Laflamme recently posted..Shutterfly and HolidaysMy Profile

  11. This is something I’ve really had to come to terms with and I’m glad I finally am getting the easy days right. I was (still sometimes am) guilty of running easy like only 20 seconds slower than goal race pace. But, when I learned to slow down I began to speed up when it mattered. Excellent post lady! I did catch some of the NYCM and as always found myself inspired! I am running Savannah Rock n Roll marathon this Satursay so that marathon inspiration was perfect. 🙂
    Jess @ run pink! recently posted..#MotivationalMonday My Favorite Brands That Got Me Through Marathon TrainingMy Profile

  12. I used to run everything at the same pace and fear running slower than my race goal pace. Now I know that my race pace can be at least 1 min/mi faster than my basic training pace. I don’t worry about my pace for hill workouts, have a general goal for long runs, and throw faster track workouts into the mix once in a while.
    Coco recently posted..Clouds Make The Best SunrisesMy Profile

  13. I pretty much do most of my runs varying degrees of “easy”. Some runs faster than others, but never as fast as my marathon race pace. I don’t do speed work in training per se, but I enter shorter races (half marathons and even marathons), to get some faster running in and to test out speed (or see if it’s still there). I’m a pretty casual trainer. Seems to work for me.

  14. I have a wide, wide range of paces 🙂 My race paces are just that, pretty much for races only. Most of my easy runs are between 1-3 minutes closer than my race pace… I have found myself ignoring my watch when I run. I hear the miles beep, but I don’t really look down to see the time.
    Lindsey recently posted..Weekly Wrap Up & HappeningsMy Profile

  15. This is definitely something that I rationally understand but have a harder time putting into practice. I have a tendency to run the same pace on most runs. It’s like I get competitive with myself and I can’t “run” slower. But as I start to rebuild my running foundation, this is definitely something that I want to work on more.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..What you need to know about hands-on adjustments in yoga classMy Profile

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