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Workout paces and details

bulletEasy Pace
bulletHill bounding
bulletThreshold pace
bulletRepetition pace
bulletInterval pace

Easy Pace

Easy pace running is the pace where you do most of your miles. The general rule of thumb is that it is 1-2 minutes slower than your projected marathon pace.

You can use the VDOT Calculator to determine your Easy pace.

My take on Easy pace

Easy pace running is actually a range of paces from active recovery jogging (very very slow) to the pace you run during your long slow distance runs (LSD). Hardly anyone runs their LSDs ~1-2 minutes slower than projected marathon pace...but they should!

One way to describe the slow end of easy running is that it is as slow as you can go and still maintain your normal running stride. I try to focus on maintaining 180 steps per minute...obviously with very short strides. Heck, if you can't maintain 180 steps/minute while running very slowly, what makes you think you can do it after mile 20 in a marathon?

Physiological objectives of easy pace

The purpose of easy running is to recover from hard workouts and also to build aerobic capacity. If you run faster than your VDOT prescribed easy pace, then you're not recovering as much as you could and your body must allocate resources to building aerobic capacity AND to repairing micro-tears that occur when you stress your body. If you run a bit slower than your prescribed easy pace, you build aerobic capacity AND recover from hard workouts. Get the picture?

Hill bounding

From Arthur Lydiard's running lecture tour in 1999
bolding has been added for emphasis

"....start springing up the hill with a bouncing action and slower forward progression. It is necessary to use the body's weight for resistance; and the slower the forward momentum is, the more resistance will be felt.

The Center of Gravity must be lifted up and down to gain resistance, not just lifting the knees. Keep the upper body relaxed with the arms loose at the sides. Hold the head up; and do not look down at the ground which tends to throw the hips back. Keep your knees coming up high with the hips held comfortably forward. Do all that you can or feel capable of doing. Should the exercise be too tiring to go all the way up the hill, then jog some yards before doing more. Use it according to your needs and ability..."

Click here for the full article in .pdf format. You can also read more about Lydiard's training methods from his book, "Running with Lydiard."

My take on hill bounding

  1. Start at the bottom of the hill; arms at your side; feet together; and hips forward

  2. Simultaneously, raise your right knee so that your right quadriceps are parallel to the ground, while pushing off with your left ankle in a "springing" motion. This should be done in a deliberate vertical direction such that you are maximizing the effect of gravity.

  3. As you push off with your left leg, bring your left quadriceps parallel to the ground. Simultaneously, you should land on the ball of your right foot. Allow your right heel to come all the way to the ground (this will allow the Achilles tendon to stretch a bit).

  4. Begin the process again until you get to the top of the hill.

NOTE: As you bound/spring up the hill, be careful not to over-stride. You should be bounding almost vertical such that your forward movement up the hill is approximately the length of your femur.

Physiological objectives of hill bounding

The purpose of hill bounding is to strengthen your ankles and quads and to get the feel of running with your hips forward.

Threshold Pace


Dr. Andrew Marks and his team at Columbia University have found new evidence for the cause of muscle fatigue (see the New York Times article by Chang W. Lee on 2/12/2008). I have not yet read Marks' research yet, nor  have I seen any supporting studies. That said, the Times article is compelling. The short story is that it is calcium leaking into muscle cells that is the culprit of muscle fatigue. Although scientists refuted the lactate accumulation theory several years ago, there had not been a viable theory to take it's place until now.

What does this mean with respect to training, specifically threshold workouts?

Probably nothing. After all, clearing lactate may still be a good idea. And, workouts designed to delay the point where calcium begins to leak into muscle cells may be similar to current Lactate Threshold workouts.

In other words, the paces for threshold runs will not change...even with a better understanding of the physiology. So, until I understand the theory better I'll probably not update the web site. ☺

Back to our regularly scheduled Threshold Pace explanation

To the extent that you can increase your lactate threshold, you can run for longer and faster periods of time. Lactate threshold workouts are designed to improve your ability to clear, or neutralize, lactic acid at faster running speeds.

Lactate threshold pace, also known as threshold pace, is a pace where your body is clearing lactic acid as fast as it is being produced. The theory behind the threshold run is to get your body to the point of lactate threshold and then hold it there for a while. As it takes a bit of time to accumulate lactic acid during a run, you can do multiple repeats (the shorter the distance, the more repeats) or a steady run of at least 20 minutes.

For repeats and ~20 minute tempo runs, threshold pace is ~ 25 seconds slower per mile than your 5K race pace. You can use the VDOT Calculator to determine your threshold pace. For tempo runs longer than 20 minutes, the pace should be a bit slower. For specific paces and distances, see the VDOT training paces in Coach Daniels' Running Formula.

Physiological objectives of threshold pace

The purpose of running at threshold pace is to train your body to clear lactic acid and potassium levels faster. Running faster than threshold pace will not cause your body to clear lactate any faster and will cause more muscle micro-tears. To make matters worse, your body's ph level will be lowered (higher levels of lactic acid). Many vitamins and nutrients work best in "normal" ph levels. In other words, because you've run faster than threshold pace, your ph levels will be lower, and subsequently, your recovery time will take longer because the nutrients you ingest don't work as well. Get the picture?

Repetition Pace

Repetition pace is a bit faster than your 5K race pace. Repetition pace workouts are typically done for short distances (200-400 meters) with full recoveries (you don't do the next work-bout until you feel you can do it at the same speed).

You can use the VDOT Calculator to determine your repetition pace.

My take on repetition pace work outs

Use the full recovery to prepare yourself for each work-bout. Focus on form: hips forward, lead foot hitting the ground just below your center of gravity, ~180 steps/minute, etc.

Physiological objectives of repetition pace


Interval Pace

Interval pace is ~5K race pace. Interval pace workouts are typically done for distances of 400 meters to 1200 meters with active recovery (easy jogging) between each work-bout. Recovery jogs last for about the same time period as your interval work-bout. For example, if you run a 1200 meter interval in 5 minutes, you would jog easily for 5 minutes.

You can use the VDOT Calculator to determine your Interval pace.

My take on Interval pace work outs

These workouts are tough! In fact, they are the toughest workouts we do in Marathon training...that's why there are several phases before the interval phase. As always, focus on form and how your body feels during these work-outs.

Physiological objectives of interval pace



Strides are done after you've completely warmed up and run as follows: In the course of about 20-30 seconds, slowly increase your pace, hold for a few seconds, and then gradually reduce your speed to your easy pace. Focus on form. If you're flailing, you're going too fast.

My take on strides

I like to do ~4 strides near the end of my warm-up to get ready for a speed workout. I also like to do them near the end of my cool-down to stretch out leg muscles before finally ending the workout.

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Last modified: 07/27/08