a Guide for Beginner Runners


As a newbie runner it can be hard to tell what “your pace” is. What exactly does this mean? How do I know if I’m running hard enough? How do I run hard enough but not run out of steam before my run is over?

There are several ways to learn how to pace yourself when running, so choose one that works best for you! The most successful way I’ve found to teach my runners is using a effort scale system that not only describes how hard the pace will be, but things you’ll be able to do (or not do) when you are in that “zone.”

Here’s what I mean:

Learn Your Pace Running Scale

A scale from 1-10


  • nice a slow
  • a warm-up or cool-down pace
  • You can sing while running this pace.


  • you can run this pace for a long time!
  • think of this as the pace you would run for a recovery run after a hard workout the day before
  • You can hold a conversation during this pace.


  • this pace might be somewhat easy at first because it is not your maximum effort, but it gets more and more difficult to do the longer you must do it. 
  • It is more difficult to hold a conversation and you may have to take breaks in talking to breath.

7-8 : 10K TO 5K PACE

  • this is almost your maximum effort
  • you are pushing hard but it’s not quite a full out sprint
  • It is difficult to breath, you can only say a few 1 or 2 word answers.

9-10 : SPRINT

  • maximum effort
  • you are sprinting as fast as you can and won’t be able to hold it for very long
  • You can’t talk, breathing is hard enough.

The numbers for these paces will change as you become a more experienced runner. Your 3-4 zone may start as a 14 minute mile and work it’s way down to a 9 minute mile…but the effort and capabilities at the level will stay the same. This is why this effort scale is so much easier to comprehend than say, a chart of paces. Hopefully this helped you discover something new about how to run your pace. If you want more information, or help with your runs, discover what a running coach can do for you!

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Post Author

Nicole Hillstead-Jones

Head Coach + Owner