So, you've been trolling through some internet forums about running and you've run across this term RPE and you're like, what the hell is that? Well, it's the rate of perceived exertion. And on today's episode of Runner’s High. I'm going to explain what that is and how you can use it.
So, what is RPE? Well, if you want to know, subscribe to the channel, stay tuned for more episodes of Runner's High where I share all kinds of information like what is RPE, how to run faster, good running forum, and all these other tips from my nearly 20 years of running experience.
So, onto what is RPE? RPE stands for the rate of perceived exertion. And it is exactly what it sounds like the rate or the effort you perceived to be putting out. How do you feel? It's all about this internal dialogue of how you feel how hard you're working.
Now, you might see something called the Borg RPE scale, which historically is on a 14 point scale. A little silly because at least in our culture, we don't count by 14, you know, we're a base 10 culture, we count by 10s, math nerds, leave me a comment below, make your case for base two, or base 14 or whatever you want to do, but we’ll have that conversation later, but we count in base 10, typically speaking.
So, I would actually say forget about the Borg scale on 14, try to use the one to 10 scale. What does that actually mean? I like to set the bounds of that scale, and then kind of leave the middle up to you.
So, one is like right now what am I doing right now I'm sitting, there's maybe a tiny bit of effort for me to have good posture. I'm working on that. But there's not a whole lot to it, very minimal effort, that's a one. A 10 is like, lungs are screaming, legs are screaming, you just absolutely cannot go any harder.
And then in between there, it actually shifts, and it depends on you. So, I love RPE as compared to heart rate training or set intervals nowadays, because RPE is a way to decide what workout you're going to do. And then allow you the amount of fatigue that you're carrying also be a guide.
So, for instance, my run this morning was an hour of five minutes long paced, five minutes tempo. The rate of perceived exertion for tempo for me, I know is the fastest I can go without my lungs starting to actually kick on and work. So, no heavy breathing, just maybe very lightly more breathing than long run pace, but much more swift movement.
And that helps me keep in touch with how fatigued I am. If I had a hard week, and I can't work quite as hard, using that RPE scale, with what my coach asked me to do, helps me make sure that everything's in line. If I'm more fresh, I can go faster. I'm not set on that clock, I only do this.
Now it takes some time to develop that RPE awareness. It's really all about pacing. So, write those things down in your log, keep a log of your runs and say today I felt like this, feel like a five today. You'll notice as you improve your fitness, what was a five a couple weeks ago may only be a four now, and that's how the scale is really flexible. The rigidity that people try to make in a chart like this makes it harder, I think, to use RPE to its maximum benefit.
Keep in mind something one of my college coaches told me, he always said, if you put in the work, the time will take care of itself. So, you don't need to worry about clock watching when you're using RPE. So, that's it. That's the whole thing, keeping track of how do you feel about it. And really, that's the crux of pacing and being a great endurance runner. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.