Rate of Perceived Exertion

Happy Wednesday!

First, I have to share a pic of last night’s dinner – salmon and green beans. I didn’t add a carb since I snacked on a bunch of tortilla chips while cooking. Manager’s special for the win!

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Dessert was some Chobani Chocolate Chunk yogurt with almond slivers. I love it.

Yesterday I had a good talk with Steve one of my fellow ING Class of 2012 teammates. He’s a running coach and actually coaches a group to train for Long Beach <- my usual goal race. Since LB is one month out from NY I wasn’t sure if I should run the half or full or sleep in that day.

We went through a bunch of different possibilities and some of his suggestions seem scary, others seem more realistic. It’s all TBA as soon as I work on a few things.

One of the first things he said I should do is run 7 miles in an hour without my heart rate getting too high. I need to get comfortable with that.

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Today I stuck to my tempo run plan and did 1m w/u, 4 at tempo, 1m c/d.  I mentioned last week that it’s hard for me to keep a tempo pace on my usual route because it’s uphill out and downhill back. Someone said I should focus on exertion – which is genius. I always use RPE when I’m working with groups, but I had the idea stuck in my head that my tempos miles should be at 8:20s or something specific.

I still kept an eye on time, but didn’t get frustrated when it was slower than my goal since I was checking in with my RPE.

rpe scale

These are the splits as I remember them, so they might be a little ‘off’. I can’t check my Garmin times because the buttons are broken and I don’t have the ability to plug it in my computer right now.

  • Mile 1: warm up
  • Mile 2: 8:28 <- 8 on the RPE
  • Mile 3: 8:28 <- 9.3 on the RPE. This was VERY HARD and I was huffing and puffing and passersby probably wanted to call 911 because there was a poor girl on the trail who thinks she’s being chased by wild dogs.
  • Mile 4: 7:48 <- (down hill) 8 on the RPE
  • Mile 5: 8:00
  • Mile 6: pick up sticks.

After my run I ate a quick breakfast – I made overnight oats with a bottle of Premier Protein. I’m doing some freelance writing for the company and was testing out a new recipe.

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Then, I grabbed my stuff and headed to my mom’s. I’m working from here today so someone can be in the house with my little brother.

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Question: Does your gym use the RPE scale? Have you used it yourself?

My old gym in MD had a big sign with it in one of the fitness classes and the instructors would reference it. I love that! It’s so helpful for people of all levels to know how much to push.


  1. Ida says

    I had to use the RPE when I had my VO2 max tested as part of a study. It’s a fun tool. I’m sure if you keep doing tempos on the same route your pace and RPE will drop a little each time.

  2. Pam says

    I did overnight oats using chocolate Premier protein drink. It wasn’t very good; I’m looking forward to trying your recipe.

    I haven’t tried training using RPE, but I have been training using heart rate zones. Very eye opening.

  3. says

    My gym doesn’t have an RPE scale, but it does have a heart rate chart on the wall. I think I need to work harder when looking at the RPE scale. I tend to give up too quickly rather than push my body. I think my brain gives up before my body actually does.

  4. Amanda says

    What was the 7 miles in 1 hour suggestion? Does that have to do with your goal marathon pace? I’m so curious! I’m training for my first full marathon and am still getting a feel for appropriate training pace vs. goal race pace. I think I’ve been slacking in my weekday runs (pace-wise), because I’m finding that my long group runs on the weekend are faster than my short (alone) runs during the week. Oops!

    I love the perceived effort chart. I train on hilly terrain and struggle with tempo runs too. That’s a great guideline.

  5. says

    I used to use rpe when I did fartleks before I got a hr monitor. Now that I have the monitor it’s interesting to compare perception and actual effort. I remember being on hilly trails and seeing a 12 min mile pace and thinking I should be pushing myself harder to get to at least a 10 min mile even though I was feeling around 9 on the rpe chart(and at a 10% grade). After running the same trail segment and seeing my hr in the 90% range I realized it was okay to ease off a bit and trust my body more.
    I think rpe is an awesome topic because it really helps the body mind connection.

  6. says

    Great idea to use RPE. I have heard of using that when running up hills, so I often think of that when I hit a hill during a run rather than try to hit a certain pace and kill myself before I even get to the top of the hill. But I hadn’t thought to use it for an entire run, downhill included. I’ll have to give it a try.

  7. Ella says

    I love how you help your mom out with your little bro – it’s so cool, family caring for one another like that. I’m sure some day she will return the favor if/when you have a little one. Makes me sad that my in-laws are lame and won’t babysit even though they live 45 minutes away and my father-in-law is retired!

  8. Carissa says

    I always weigh out my carbs but never my proteins. And that’s only because I’m too lazy to buy a battery for our food scale. I think it really helps and helps me eat less after since I know I ate what I should have.

    I’m sad you’re not running Disneyland over Labor Day. I’ll be there!!!

  9. Stacey says

    Please post your recipe for overnight oats with the Premier Protein. I’d love to try it! My whole family drinks the shakes, even my 7 year old thinks they taste great. Thanks so much!

  10. says

    I don’t know that my gym uses the RPE scale but a runner told my husband about this last week and have made use of it since last week for my runs. It’s very interesting and just like you, I too thought I needed to run 8.1. So yes, I am also doing it a speed of 7 miles in an hour.

  11. says

    I forgot that you lived in MD! (That’s where I live!)
    I teach several group ex. classes- including Spinning 4x a week. I reference HR and “aerobic” vs “anaerobic” training a lot- but I know that it doesn’t mean a lot to most of the people in the class. I wish everyone would wear a HR monitor, because that would make it so much easier (especially if your goal is to burn fat!), but generally only 1 or 2 people have them on.
    I LOVE that you said that your old gym had a RPE sign hanging up. I am going to work on getting one of those up in the cycle room!! (We have NOTHING- not even a HR zone chart!!)

  12. Tia says

    Random but; you totally rock those sunglasses. I dunno why but I CANNOT wear sunglasses like that, they make me look like a total tard.

  13. says

    I’m a huge fan of using RPE for clients and for classes because not every bike has a display and not every member uses a heart rate monitor. It’s great for helping my clients determine if we are working hard enough, or if maybe they have plateaued and it’s time to take their routine to the next level. For some reason, I love higher RPE’s. I don’t feel like I’m doing enough unless I’m pouring sweat!

  14. Emily says

    I saw you were wearing your Garmin again in this post. Does that mean you don’t like the Motoactv? I am trying to decide on a GPS watch and like the Motoactv for the MP3 feature but I don’t want to drop $150 if that is not the one I should get. I saw on your review post that the distance/pace was off and wondered if that is playing into you decision to wear the Garmin. Any advice on which on to get would be great! Love your blog btw!!!

    • says

      I don’t like the Moto, but I haven’t used the MP3 feature at all. If that’s a selling point for you, it would be great. If you just want a gps watch get something else.

  15. says

    Great post! I like the RPE chart. I have a hard time maintaining a steady pace on my trail runs and end up doing tempo runs on my treadmill – but treadmill running is hard for long distances…. I’ll give RPE a try!

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