Running Intensity: how hard should it feel?

It’s hard to define and Running Intensity because it depends on your individual level of fitness, which will increase as your training progresses. It doesn’t matter how you get to hard, whether it’s power walking or sprinting at five-minute mile pace, the way you feel should be the same.

The more endurance fit you are, the longer you’ll be able to maintain a harder pace (for example tempo). The table below is based on the Borg Rate of Perceived Exertion table but for simplicity uses one to 10 to measure intensity perception.


Effort level Effort rating Activity (approximate, depending on fitness) Description
1 None None Standing still
2 Minimal Shuffle Minimal activity
3 Easy Slow walk COOL DOWN.
4 Light Moderate walk Normal pace – WARM UP/COOL DOWN AND RECOVERY.
5 Fairly light Brisk walk/light jog Walking – striding out or jogging a little above march pace; heart rate and breathing increase a little. WARM UP/COOL DOWN AND RECOVERY.
6 Moderate Jog/easy running Easy jog – active but not challenging; breathing is easy and steady; can hold full conversation.


7 Slightly challenging Steady running Sustainable steady running – general race pace; breathing and heart rate are raised but not uncomfortable; can talk but not entire way round.


8 Challenging/slightly hard Tempo running Brisk – challenging running at increased pace; breathing should be harder; comfortably hard; can speak one or two words.


9 Hard Hard running Fast running with arms pumping; can’t speak. INTERVALS.
10 Maximum Maximum Maximum effort – sustainable for one minute or less; can’t speak. SHORT STRIDE OUTS AT THE END OF EASY RUNS.




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