what does pace mean in running

What Does Pace Mean In Running?

If you are just beginning your running journey you are probably hearing a number of terms, such as form, cadence, foot strike, stride, and pace.

In this guide, we look at what they mean but focus on running pace and how you can safely achieve your desired pace without causing any injuries. 

Guide To Terms Used In Running

There are 5 main terms that you will often hear when speaking about running.

As a beginner, it is important to understand these terms as they will help you to develop your running habit and also help to PREVENT any injuries, which are often common when starting out.

The most important thing to remember when running is that each person is different. It is crucial to listen to your body and what it needs while you are running.

Try not to judge yourself against others as they could be running for years longer than you.

The 5 main terms are explained briefly below.

When you are out for your next run, pay attention to these points and take the time to notice how these terms apply to your running.

1. Form

How you hold your body when running is extremely important. You need to support your body as it exerts itself during this form of exercise.

The correct running form is to bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and allow them to SWING as you move forward.

Slightly lean your chest forward to help propel your body and then it’s a case of placing one foot in front of the other.

As your foot hits the ground it should roll like a wave going from your heel to your toe. 

2. Cadence

Cadence refers to the number of steps a runner takes per minute as they are running.

Your cadence will depend on the pace you are traveling at as well as the distance and the length of your legs. 

3. Foot Strike

This is a very important part of running. Foot strike refers to how your foot hits the ground.

If you are hitting the ground incorrectly you can easily fall or lose your balance as well as negatively impact the muscles in your foot, ankles, knees, and lower back.

Remember what we spoke about earlier regarding your form, your foot should roll like a wave, heel to toe, heel to toe. 

what does pace mean in running

4. Stride

Finding your stride while running is a longed-for feeling.

This is when you find a comfortable speed you can run at.

You can easily maintain that speed without over-exerting yourself.

Your stride refers to the number of steps that you take forward as you run.

5. Pace

Many will think that pace refers to the speed that you are running at but they would be wrong.

While your speed will impact your pace, pace refers to the length of time it takes you to cover a certain distance.

Often during a 5-kilometer run or for marathons, people will set out hoping to achieve a certain time. This time is their desired pace.

It can take a lot of training to be able to achieve your desired pace.

You need to understand how fast your body would need to move in order to do so. And you also need to build up the stamina to do so. 

What Is A Good Pace For Running?

There is NOT one set pace that would apply to every runner.

Your pace is influenced by a number of factors such as your age, how long you have been running, and also your running ability.

For beginners, it can take up to 15 minutes to complete a mile.

A person in good shape and health who runs each week for leisure could run a mile in approximately 9 to 10 minutes.

Elite marathon runners can run a mile in as little as 4 minutes

How to Find Your Pace?

The best way to find your pace is to complete 3 runs of a certain length and time them.

Once you have completed these runs add the times together and divide it by three to find on average what your pace is.

How to Calculate Your Pace?

For example: if we were to run one mile three times and it took 15 minutes the first day, 17 minutes the second day, and 14 minutes the third day our sum to figure out what our average pace was would look like this: 


Our average pace would be 15 minutes for a one-mile run.

Pace for 3-miles?

Usually, runners will run on average 3-miles when completing a good run.

So you would hope to have a pace of 45 minutes for a 3-mile run and this would be the next thing you would work towards.

We suggest that you try a 3-mile run to see if you achieve this pace.

If not you would know that you need to work on your endurance.

That way you are able to run for that length of time and then, in turn, your speed would build and your pace would become better.

If you run this pace without any discomfort you should try to achieve a slightly better pace of 40 minutes, and so on.

Listen to your body as you try to achieve better results.

How To Increase Your Pace

Often we will have a set pace that we HOPE to achieve.

You could go out and run as FAST as you can trying to achieve this pace.

But we would NOT recommend this!

You could cause serious damage to your muscles as well as possibly not gain any results.

We RECOMMEND that you follow the below tips that will help you to increase your running pace:

  1. Run often. This will help your endurance. It will prevent you from fatiguing during your run leading you to stop. Your aerobic health will get better also meaning you won’t get out of breath.
  2. Focus on your form. Having good form will enable you to run faster
  3. Follow a plan. Include recovery runs, speed work, and hill work to directly benefit your endurance, form, and pace.
  4. Get a training partner. Having someone to motivate you can be helpful. Ensure you choose someone who is at the same running level so it benefits you positively.

The Bottom Line

These are the basics of pace. This is suited to those who run for leisure and their health rather than competitively.

If you are planning on running competitively we recommend looking at how you can progress your running further after you have incorporated all of the information in this guide to your running habits.

We hope this guide will help you to achieve your desired running pace.

Train, don’t strain and you will get the results you want.

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