4 Tips to Keep an Honest Running Effort

Like many runners, it’s easy to get distracted while we’re out there running our miles. When that happens, we’re often times not running the pace at which we thought we wanted to hit.  Maybe we were too fast or maybe we were too slow.

4 tips to keep an honest running effort
Run by GPS, track, Heart Rate Monitor or with the Talk Test

What we once thought was comfortable and attainable is now downright hard to keep up with. So what do you do to maintain your place? There are 4 good solutions to that problem.

See which one works best for you and then experiment with the other three.


The GPS device is awesome for when you’re running out on the roads and don’t know exactly how far or how fast you’re going. It’s best used for long runs and for workouts you do on the roads.  It’s an on the spot coach for your wrist. If you use it wisely it can be a great benefit to your running, but if you let it, it can rule your running and consume you.  Use the GPS watch as a guide rather than the rule, which means that you run by your effort rather than by what the watch says.IMG_1001

Heart rate monitor

A heart monitor is a great tool to use if you know your maximum heart rate. If you do not know your maximum heart rate it becomes a little less useful in terms of actual running in, but that could be useful for other metrics such as how well rested you are and how you recover from workouts.  To get tested for maximum heart rate, an exercise physiologist will measure your oxygen intake and how your body uses oxygen. This test can be rather expensive and sometimes unnecessary for the majority of runners out there.

On A Track

Similar to a GPS watch, a track can give you precise splits throughout your run or workout. Unfortunately, the track is only 400 m long and can become rather monotonous quite quickly.  To combat this boredom I would suggest starting a run away from the track and then doing a few laps around the track to determine your pace and then finishing your run off the track. Not only will this keep your run more exciting but you will avoid injuries such to your IT band, calf, and hips  (from the repetitive left-hand turns).

Using a track can help pace yourself
Track Intervals

The Talk Test

The talk test is totally effort based. The main premise is that your ability to talk depends on how hard have an effort you’re putting out. This simply implies that your ability to talk is relative to the pace at which you are running. Therefore the faster you are running the less you should be able to talk. So an effort at 5K pace will result in you speaking less and only in short bursts. An effort at marathon or slower pace should allow you to speak in full sentences and be able to tell a story if you had to.


However you choose to pace yourself on your runs is up to you.  You might find that some days you may want to do your run based on pace and the best way for you to do that is on the track or on a treadmill.

There isn’t one best way to keep your pace honest and even.  It takes a lot of practice to really know what your easy pace is and then be able to dial into that pace.  Know there is more than one option and keep getting those miles in!

Need a coach to help you reach your running goals?

I am a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach.

I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners.  Click for more information!

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