How to Find Your Running Pace

This short post is in response to a question sent in by a fan of the MTA Facebook Page

Your perfect running pace is that zone where you feel like you could run forever. You need to be able to find this zone quickly if you want to run a marathon or half marathon. 

Here are some tips for finding that perfect pace.

Warm up by jogging for 1 mile. 

Then run 1 mile (1600 meters) around a track, time yourself, and pay attention to:

  • Your Breathing: you should be comfortably exchanging air; no huffing, puffing, or gasping
  • Your Running Form: use correct form; keep head up and eyes looking straight ahead, arms comfortably swinging by sides, legs in rhythm and not overstriding
  • Your Perceived Level of Difficulty (1-10): 10 hardest and 1 no effort; you should be at a 7 and able to talk in short sentences
  • Your Heart Rate: 70-75% maximum heart rate (HR); find max HR by taking your age minus 220

The time it takes you to complete a mile considering these factors is your average running pace. 

As you build your base and become a fitter runner, your pace will increase over time.  Another way to increase your pace is to include speed work or tempo runs into your marathon training.  With time and effort you can become a faster runner with increased endurance. 

So zero in on your running pace and get in the zone.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who has sent in a question. I love to know what’s on your mind.

9 Responses to How to Find Your Running Pace

  1. Vince Miller May 3, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    Just wanted to say thanks n keep up the good work, I enjoy your topics and mannerism.
    I’ve been running for about six or so years. My driving force is to improve health, as advised by my doc. Some time ago. I should also state that Im a type 1 diabetic(insulin dependent). I’ve ran 5 marathons now my last being Boston. In that time I’ve learned a lot, your tips seem to be right on.
    A brother in Christ,

  2. Angie May 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Thank you Vince. Great job living a healthy lifestyle and challenging yourself. You are an inspiration!

  3. Tracy Hughes May 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    I would like to know if I should breath through my nose or my mouth ? As I am learning to run ? Thanks so much Tracy

    • Trevor May 12, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

      Definitely breath through your mouth when you run. . . that’s what Angie always says.

  4. Mark Adams May 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Hey guys! Love your podcasts. I’ll be doing my first marathon this fall here in Maine. Not sure yet whether I’ll be doing a full or half but I’m excited to do it no matter what. I’m a little nervous about commiting to a full marathon at his point. My longest runs now are about 7-8 miles. After listening to your shows though I’m feeling like I could probably do the full. I used to think that to do a marathon I was going to have to put in 60 to 70 miles a week which was not going to be possible with a family and a full time job. With your beginner marathon training plan of 20 weeks, I really think now that it’s possible to do this. Thanks and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

  5. Angie May 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Thanks Mark. It sounds like you have a solid running base built up and would be in good shape to do the full marathon if you wanted to. It’s definitely not necessary to put in high mileage to do a marathon. You have what it takes so keep up the good work!

  6. bob runner March 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    It’s best to put in at least a year of training before training for a full marathon. Focus on a half first…baby steps. See how you feel then. 6-7 miles is far different from 26.2.

  7. Crazy Cari February 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    My very first running event ever was a full marathon. I literally went from the worst shape of my life, (i.e. had 2 babies and never got in shape in-between) to a full marathon in just 14 weeks. I believed in my training program and it worked. Anyone can do it if they put in the work.

    • Angie February 28, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      Awesome job conquering your first marathon. I agree that anyone who puts in the work and believes in themself can have a great marathon experience.

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