Figuring Ultramarathon Pace

Therese Iknoian December 28th, 2011

Typically I run a six-minute mile for a 10K and a seven-minute pace for a marathon. I would like to run a 100K. …

Illustration by Jeremy Duncan

Typically I run a six-minute mile for a 10K and a seven-minute pace for a marathon. I would like to run a 100K. How much do I need to slow down to cover the distance?

—Brian Baker, Boise, ID

Determining a goal pace for an ultra is a common question, especially for runners coming from a road-running background. Since you will be slower on trails, it is not a linear formula. On your long, trail training runs, you can gain a rough idea of your potential race pace by gauging the speed you can maintain comfortably against how you feel using the suggestions below.

Coach Roy Stevenson, who teaches exercise science at Seattle University in Washington, advises gauging ultra pace in three possible ways. One, use a heart-rate monitor in training, then stick to the same heart rate you find you can maintain on long runs in your race, no matter what your pace, the weather or the terrain. Two, learn to rate how you feel at certain paces, using a 1-to-10 scale, then during the event, running at about “4 to 5” will constitute a sustainable, aerobic pace. And three, as physiologist and coach Jack Daniels, PhD., also advises, count steps per inhale and exhale, hitting about a 3-3 count (three steps per each inhale and exhale) for long-distance running.

Practice all three methods in training to get to know the right zone for your race and to figure out which method works best for you. Also, after running even one ultra, you will have a much better idea of what it takes to get across the finish line.

0 0
Article Rating

HELP US KEEP OUR WEBSITE FREE is completely free. We don’t have a paywall and you don’t have to be a member to access thousands of articles, photos and videos. Our editorial and design team—and all of our contributors—are trail runners just like you who love the sport and want to share all the great things it has to offer. 

But we can’t do it without you. Your support is critical for keeping our website free and delivering the most current news, the most in-depth stories and the best photography in the running world.

For 20 years Trail Runner has committed to excellence and authenticity. Your subscription to our print magazine or donation will help us continue down a path that is uncompromised, and keep the website free for trail runners like you.

Get our latest stories, gear, training, and videos in your inbox every week.

I would like to receive emails from: