How to usearrow_upward
This app calculates running paces for workouts that are designed to be done at specific percentages of race pace.
For example, if your workout is 4 x 1.25 mi at 95% of 5k pace, and your 5k pace is 5:00/mi, you can enter 95% and 5:00 in the app to find the correct pace for your workout (in this example, 5:15/mi).
If desired, you can also convert your pace to and from mile, kilometer, and 400m splits.
Percentage-based workouts are used by Renato Canova and other top coaches when planning training sessions for some of the best runners in the world.
I've adopted this percentage-based framework in my own coaching and have found it to be an incredibly versatile approach for everything from the 800m to ultra distances.
Calculating paces by hand gets tedious, so I made this app for the two most common use cases: calculating paces and percents "forward" to find workout paces from race pace, and "backward" to find what race pace would result in a given pace and percentage.
Percent of pace vs. percent of speedarrow_upward
There are a few intricacies to calculating percentages; one of these is that percent of speed is not the same things as percent of pace. See the linked article for an in-depth explanation of why.
Renato Canova's workouts all use percentage of pace. This approach has the advantage of being evenly-spaced and symmetric in increments of pace: 90% of 5:00 mile pace is 5:30, and 80% of 5:00 mile pace is 6:00 (i.e. each 10% jump is 30 seconds per mile). Percent of pace is the approach I use with my own training and coaching.
One consequence of the math behind taking percents of pace is that faster speeds are more finely-grained, which makes intuitive sense from a coaching perspective: effort-wise, there's a much bigger difference between 3:00/km and 3:05/km vs. 4:00/km and 4:05/km. Percent of speed works the opposite way: small percentage jumps are very big at high speeds, which is not desirable.
Scientific research typically uses percent of speed because of speed's linear relationship with distance covered per unit time. Percent of speed is evenly-spaced and symmetric in terms of speed (e.g. each 10% jump is an equal increment in miles per hour).
Do note that neither method is symmetric with respect to the reference speed: 120% of 80% of any speed does not return the original speed, regardless of how you define percentages.
Percentages are better than seconds per mile rulesarrow_upward
Percentage-based workout paces have a significant advantage over simple additive rules like "tempo pace equals 5k pace plus 20 seconds per mile." These additive rules fail both for very fast and very slow runners; percentages of pace generalize to a much wider range of abilities.
Forward and backward calculationsarrow_upward
Often, you'll have a workout that goes better than expected: suppose you ran five miles at 90% of 5k pace and had a great day, averaging 5:24/mi even though your plan was to run 5:30/mi. You can switch to "reverse mode" (just click theicon) to figure out what original pace would've yielded 5:24 at 90%—in this case, it's 4:52/mi.
For convenience, I also built in some simple unit conversions. Many of Renato Canova's workouts are kilometer-based, so I like being able to convert to and from miles, kilometers, and (for track workouts) 400m splits.
You'll notice that the percentage calculations are not affected by the unit conversions—this is by design; 90% of 5:00 is 5:30, regardless of whether that's in minutes per mile, minutes per kilometer, or minutes per 400m.
The 5% rule and other useful conversionsarrow_upward
One reason percentages of pace are so convenient is the "5% rule": roughly speaking, a well-trained runner will slow down by 5% for every doubling of race distance. This means that the following approximate race conversions hold:
- 10k pace is 95% of 5k pace
- Half marathon pace is 90% of 5k pace or 95% of 10k pace
- Marathon pace is 95% of half marathon pace, 90% of 10k pace, and (very hesitantly) 85% of 5k pace
Additionally, I find the following (again, approximate) physiologically-based markers to be useful for planning workouts:
- Critical speed / critical velocity is 95% of 5k pace
- Lactate threshold is 91-92% of 5k pace
- Aerobic threshold is 85% of 5k pace
Your individual disposition as a runner, and your training status, will of course push these numbers up or down. As an example, with high school runners I almost always use more like 90-91% of 5k pace for lactate threshold because of "aerobic drift" - compared to more experienced runners, high schoolers run the 5k with greater reliance on their glycolytic energy system, and their performance in longer distances is proportionally worse when compared to more experienced runners with the same 5k PR.
Conversely, I work with some marathon runners who, in top condition, can run the marathon only 3-4% slower than their half marathon pace, and who have a lactate threshold closer to 93% of 5k pace.
Suggested percent-based workoutsarrow_upward
Here's a small sample of some of my favorite percentage-based workouts that I use across a wide variety of events:
|1500m & up
|8 x 3 min at 91-92% of 5k pace w/ 45-60 sec jog recovery
|5k & up
|12 mi long fast run at 80% of 5k pace
|4-6 x 600m at 80% of 800m pace w/ 1-3 min walk recovery
|5k & 10k
|3 sets of: (2 km at 95% of 5k, 1-2 min jog, 1 km at 98-101% 5k) w/ 3-5min jog recovery
|10 sets of (1 km at 100-102% HMP, 1 km at 88-90% HMP)
|18 mi long fast run at 90% MP
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Support my workarrow_upward
This app is 100% free and open-source. If you enjoy my work and want to help support me, be sure to check out my book, Modern Training and Physiology for Middle and Long-Distance Runners - it's available on Amazon as both an eBook and paperback. I also offer coaching services for those interested.