The Beginners Guide To Running Pace

Young slim girl running in the park in winter. Portrait of attractive woman jogging on trail with copy space

Running pace is one of the most important metrics to keep track of as a runner, whether you just took up running, are training for your first race, or trying to break your personal best.

Knowing your pace can help you run and train better and much more efficiently.

Here’s the good news.

The formula for calculating running pace is easy. All you need to know is your time and your distance.

In today’s short article, I’ll explain what running pace is all about, how to measure it as well as how to make the most out of your training.

Sounds great?

Let’s lace up and dig in.

What Is Running Pace

First things first, what is pace and why it’s so important.

A pace is the equivalent of two natural steps.

Beginning with your right foot, the moment your left foot strikes the ground, you can count that one pace.

In the running world, it’s a useful metric that measures how long it takes to cover a defined distance

The average foot length in pace will vary between runners and will also be different across various types of terrain. All in all, most people have a pace somewhere roughly 4.5 to 5 feet.

Knowing your running pace can help you determine how long it will take to run a certain distance. Keeping track of this metric over time helps monitor your performance and see if your training efforts are paying off—or not.

What’s more?

You’ll also want to know your pace when signing up for different races such as 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon.

Calculate Running Pace

To figure out the running pace, all you need is basic math skills and two important pieces of information:

  • Your timing in minutes—or how long it took you
  • Your distances in miles (or kilometers)—or how far you ran.

Once you figure these two things, the formula is straightforward.

Pace = Time / Distance

Let me break down each.

The Distance

You can figure out your distance by using various online tools, running apps, or mapping services where you input your starting point and your final destination. (check my article here for more about the subject).

You can also drive your car around your running route and get an estimate of how far your running route is.

Pace Calculator

Running pace is expressed either in minutes per mile or minutes per kilometer—it depends on which system you use.

Your pace result may not be a round number of minutes—that’s when you need to convert it to fractions of minutes to seconds.

Young slim girl running in the park in winter. Portrait of attractive woman jogging on trail with copy space

Using Apps And Fitness Devices

The easiest—and most convenient way—of calculating your pace is by using a GPS watch or distance and speed monitor.

The Global Position System consists of roughly 24 satellites orbiting at roughly 12,500 miles above earth almost every twelve hours in one of six different orbital planes.

But sometimes, these devices are not infallible.

For example, a GPS network can often be unreliable if you run in areas surrounded by big buildings, hills, or trees that hinder the satellite’s signal needed to measure your position.

What’s more?

GPS accuracy depends on many factors, such as the device you’re using and its operating system, cellular network, and battery life.

Tips for Picking up The pace

Now that you know the basics of running pace and why it’s such an important metric, let’s get more practical.

The following strategies should be enough to help improve your running pace, especially if you are not currently happy with your running performance and results.

Improve your running technique:

You can do this by keeping your posture upright, bending your arms, shooting for a 170-180 stride cadence, and developing a forefoot stride pattern. You can also use a tool, like STRYD, to accurately keep track of your pace and stride stats.

Vary Your workouts

Doing the same three-miler run around the neighborhood is the recipe for performance plateaus. Instead, try varying your running plan by doing plenty of interval workouts, fartlek, tempo runs, hill reps long runs, and recovery runs.

The more varied, the better.

Recover Well

You can have the best running coach in the world who is teaching how to master proper running technique as well as perform goal-oriented workouts for improving pace. But, if you don’t recover from your training, all of your efforts will be in vain.

In fact, proper recovery is as important as the training itself.

Check out my full guide to recovery for runners here.