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How do I know what pace to run?

When an athlete is first beginning a training program it is advisable to do a “field test” or a baseline test to determine their current level of fitness. The appropriate test will vary based on the athlete’s ability and fitness level. However, all field tests are strenuous in nature, and as such, athletes should not attempt a field test unless healthy and cleared by medical professionals to engage in fitness activity. All field tests should include a proper warm up of stretching and 15 to 20 minutes of walking or light jogging with a few speed efforts included, in order to get the body ready for the test itself. An athlete should break a sweat in their warm up.

Following the warm up an athlete can do an all out mile effort, 5 kilometer effort or ten kilometer effort depending on fitness level. Newer athletes should perform the shorter field tests and more experienced athletes with a greater level of fitness, should perform the longer tests. These tests are an approximate predictor of an athlete's pace at their aerobic threshold. This is the highest given effort that an athlete can sustain before they become anaerobic. Athletes should record their average heart rate, their max heart rate, their mile splits (if they are doing the longer versions of the test), total time and average pace. All training ranges are then determined from this approximate pace, and heart rate, at lactate threshold. Based on field test findings, future race predictions can be made and subsequent training paces can be calculated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.