A couple days a go I outlined how to conduct a very practical way to learn your vVO2max (that minimal pace at which you reach maximum oxygen consumption). Now I’ll outline how to use this number to figure out your potential pace for various race distances as well a your ideal most efficient quality workout pace.
There are reliable percentages of the vVO2max figure that every runner runs all distances. Those figures for the most popular race distances are as follows. These are estimates based on large sample groups and many studies. Of course, as with all research statistics an individual may vary.
- 5Ks are run at 95% of your vVO2max.
- 10Ks are run at 90% of your vVO2max.
- Marathons are run at 80% of your vVOxmax. (elite marathoners charge along at about 85%)
These are actual running paces not not heart rates (which have little to no correlation with paces). Therefore, it is not a moving target (which heart rates are). These yield a target pace both for training purposes as well as projections of your capabilities.. IF you conduct a proper training program for those other respective distances. It would also assume that you ran on a flat course without any adverse weather or other conditions (i.e. heat, elevation).
Here are what some calculations look like.
- If I run a 1600 meter time trial in 6:00 I would divide that pace by .95 and It would yield a slightly slower pace (6:19/1600 or about a 19:35 5K) for my 5K goal pace.
- 6:00 divided by .90 yields my 10K target pace (6:40/1600 or about a 41:20 10K).
- 6:00 divided by .80 yields my marathon target pace (7:30/1600 or about a 3:16 marathon).
These will be quite challenging times. The percentages are most accurate with more experienced or elite runners. However, you have to understand that they train far better and more specifically to events therefore are more likely to fulfill their potential. Most of us do not. We try to train for as many races as possible. Often we try to set our 5K and 10K PRs during our build up to a marathon as opposed to focusing our training on those distances. Or, we decide to run a marathon by just adding some long runs into our training.
Here’s another key finding from this little exercise.
- Your 5k pace is an ideal pace to run your interval training.
- Your actual time trial pace (1600) is a great pace for faster shorter intervals and repetitions.
- True tempo training should be 10K pace up to a pace about 10-15 seconds per mile slower. (Most runners call any “hard”effort a tempo run. It is most often far too slow.) A true tempo run would only last 20-25 minutes not including warm-up/cool-down.
- And finally, your calculated marathon pace becomes your goal pace training miles. If you don’t train at your goal pace, you won’t magically find it on race day after only doing faster and slower training.
So, when someone asks what pace they should be running for a given workout you must first determine what is the goal of the workout (speed devleopment, goal pacing, endurance, etc.). Then you apply the vVO2max time trial and do some quick calculations. Voila. No more guessing at paces. No more ranges of heart rates which yield variable non-specific pacing
I’m often asked when do the times move to faster paces. The answer is when you run a faster time trial or successfully race to your target time.