Picking Paces

BY Hal Higdon

Let your body dictate how easy is your easy pace. It can differ from workout to workout.

Got a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I have two questions related to how fast to run various workouts. Currently I am in the fifth week of Intermediate 2, aimed at a marathon. Based on my time goal for the event, I’m currently doing my (race) pace runs at 5:20 per kilometer, which translates into 8:35 per mile. Is that too fast? Too slow? My long run pace is 5:50 per kilometer, 9:25 per mile. Second question: What would be the ideal pace for midweek easy runs?


My suggestion for long runs is to run 30 to 90 seconds or more slower than your projected marathon pace. You currently are running 50 seconds per mile or 40 seconds per kilometer slower than you hope to run in the marathon, so you are right in the middle of the window. Good going! As for your second question, there is no “ideal” easy run pace. At least there is no same pace that you run every easy workout. Your fatigue level will differ from day to day. The day after a rest day, presumably you will have a lot of energy, and the prescribed mileage will be shorter than either your long run or your sorta-long run. You might actually find yourself running comfortably faster than race pace—and that is all right. Later in the week, after several successive days of running, you might be dragging a bit, hoping to make it to Friday and your day off. You might find yourself running much slower than race pace, maybe even taking a walking break or two. No problem. Let your body dictate how easy is your easy pace. It can differ from workout to workout.

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About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.