Week 2 Maintaining10K

Mastering your Training Pace

Welcome back to Week 2 of our Maintenance Program newsletter series! This week, we’ll delve into the importance of understanding and mastering different running paces. We’ll discuss what the different zones means along with covering different workouts and why we do them. Knowing how to adjust your pace for different workouts will be key to getting the most out of your training sessions and avoiding burnout or injury. Stay tuned for tips on how to gauge your effort level and optimize your training based on these different paces.

Happy running!
Janette Shearer
Online Communications Manager & Interim InTraining Coordinator

Explanation of different zones/different works and why

I remember the first time I saw zone 2 in a training plan and was confused, what does that mean and how do I know that I’m in zone 2? Then you throw in words like VO2 Max, Steady, Threshold… and now I’m completely lost!  Knowing your individual aerobic training zones is crucial to ensuring you maximise the adaptations you can achieve from each planned workout or training run as well as reducing your risk of burnout and/or injury.


In simple terms, different aerobic training zones will stimulate your body in different ways to achieve different adaptations. Whilst training at a variety of different training zones is encouraged for all runners, depending on your specific running goals, different training zones should be targeted to enhance the adaptations that are specific to your running training and racing goals.

Before we fully jump in… it’s important to understand what is aerobic and anaerobic?

Aerobic exercise involves continuous movement fueled by oxygen from the air you breathe. Anaerobic exercise involves short bursts of high-intensity movement fueled by energy stored in your muscle

The Details

Your 5 aerobic zones can be used to prescribe workouts that will best stress the cardio-vascular (CV) and muscular (M) systems to the desired degree.  Below is a summary of all 5 aerobic training zones and their main purpose:

Zone 5 = VO2 Max 

  • Interval efforts (typically 1-3min) that require rest or slow active recovery
  • This is a pace where the body burns all of the available oxygen (O2) to fuel the aerobic system
  • An acidic environment is created in the blood and working muscles due to accumulation of hydrogen ions (H+), making the pace sustainable for short periods of time only.
  • Fatigue is caused by CV and anaerobic (H+) sources due to an unsustainable demand of O2

Zone 4 = Threshold

  • The pace that aligns with your anaerobic threshold
  • Longer efforts (typically >5min with steady float recovery) or a continuous run less than 30min total.
  • This is a pace where the body is using ALMOST all of the available O2 to fuel the aerobic system, meaning there is O2 available to buffer the acidic H+ that are being produced in the working muscles by the anaerobic system. H+ will therefore be present in the blood and working muscles but importantly, they do not accumulate.
  • This zone is often called the “red line” as any increase in pace above threshold will result in H+ accumulation and therefore the pace may not be sustainable for the planned time period of the session.
  • Fatigue is caused by CV sources due to a high demand for O2
  • Read more in our blog HERE

Zone 3 = Tempo 

  • This is the pace that sits between your anaerobic and aerobic threshold (see zone 2)
  • Long efforts (typically >8min) or continuous runs between 30-60min total
  • The body is producing acidic H+ but due to the moderate demand of O2 by the aerobic system, they can easily be buffered and therefore NOT accumulate in the blood or working muscles
  • A tempo run is the junction point where fatigue will come from both CV (moderate demand for O2) AND muscular (from the duration of the run) sources
  • Read more in our blog HERE

Zone 2 = Steady 

  • The pace that aligns with your aerobic threshold
  • At a steady pace, your body just starts to produce H+ but they are almost instantaneously buffered due to a low demand for O2 by the aerobic system
  • This is recommended to be the quickest pace you run for any continuous run (e.g. easy or long runs)
  • If you do not go above your aerobic threshold, fatigue will be muscular (or nutritional if you go far enough)
  • Read more in our blog HERE

Zone 1 (Easy) 

  • The pace that sits below your aerobic threshold
  • This should be the slowest pace you should run for any continuous run (e.g. easy runs, recovery runs plus warm ups & cool downs)
  • As you are below your aerobic threshold, there will only be fatigue from muscular & nutritional sources if you go far enough
  • If you cannot sustain your easy run pace, it is a sign you should be resting to ensure you recover from the stress you are under

Importance of training at different paces.

So many people resist doing speed work and playing with their pace because it feels harder, but nothing worth going after is going to be easy at first. Even if right now you think you have no interest in getting faster and that you’re happy running at the same pace throughout a run, today, I’m highlighting why speed work is for you too.

Listen in today to discover the power of learning to run at different paces. This includes faster and slower, which is a lot harder than you might initially think. Training yourself to run outside of your comfy zone where it feels close to effortless keeps you stuck, and I’m sharing a workout that you can practice that will help you consciously run at all kinds of paces.

Adjusting Your Pace

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