The Multi-Pace Running System

multi paced system

One of the key issues with planning your own training is determining how fast and how long each workout will be. The multi paced running system provides the solution to this. This is one of the best ways to structure your workouts, and can be used effectively regardless of the distance you are training for.

Most notably used by Peter Coe, the multi paced running system has been around for a long time. Coe Senior managed to coach his son Seb into one of the most successful British athletes of all time. That was due to the rigorous training system that Coe Senior prescribed.

It was actually the founder of the British Milers Club who was first recorded stating this system. He and Peter Coe were close friends highlighting where this philosophy originated from.

What is the multi-pace running system?

This system is designed to help maximise your performance over one distance. To do this, your workouts are going to evolve around 5 different target paces. If you take the middle pace to be your target race pace, then you will have 2 faster paces and 2 slower paces. The point is to schedule these paces into a fortnightly rota to make sure you hit each of these paces a sufficient amount of time. Days where you are not completing a workout will be easy days.

The easiest way to explain this would be to give an example. Let’s take a 5000m runner. If their middle pace (pace no.3) is there target 5000m race pace then we can work from there. It’s best to think of the multi-pace system as a multi-race pace system. This means you should be targeting race paces for distances above and below your focus.

Extrapolating this for the 5k runner, pace no.1 would be 1500m race pace. Pace no.2 would be their 3000m race pace, and we’ve already covered that pace no.3 would be their 5000m focus. Pace no.4 would be 10,000m race pace and pace no.5 would be their half marathon race pace. In this case, it’s best to think of pace no.5 as a tempo pace.

Now we have the desired paces, we can used the multi-pace running system to plan the 5000m runners workouts. These should be spread out across a two week period, with at least one day of easy running before and after a workout day. It would be best to include one rest day in this period as well. In the coming paragraphs we’ll discuss why it’s to crucial to complete these under pace and over pace workouts.

How can you implement a multi-pace training system into your own training?

Here at Running Faster we base our coaching philosophies around this system. If you want a multi-pace training plan created specifically to you, head over to our personalised training plan page. If you want to take your fitness to the next level, head over to our online coaching page for one on one support.

Both of these services are provided by a competitive athlete who has spent years studying the sport and coaching techniques. Get coached by someone with both knowledge and experience as a runner.

Why complete an under-pace workout?

Some of you may be reading this and thinking ‘why does a 5000m runner need to do some 1500m workouts?’. Taking it at face value, it would appear beneficial to strictly train at your desired race pace. However, developing your speed and speed endurance can be incredibly beneficial. The same logic applies across all distances. Under pace training should be included whether you’re targeting the 800m or the marathon.

There’s an easy way to exemplify this. Let’s say that someone’s 5000m pace is 4:50/mile (bang on 15minute pace). Now let’s say their 1500m pace is 4:15/mile (around 4minutes for 1500m). If they regularly train at 4:15/mile pace then when it is time to practice the 4:50/mile pace it’s going to feel remarkably easier. You end up teaching your body to become much more efficient whilst operating at higher speeds. This means that you’re as efficient as possible when it comes to your racing distance. The same principle can be applied to the 3000m pace that the runner would train at (pace no.3).

Not all races are perfect…

There’s another reason why this is so beneficial. In a race environment, the entire race isn’t going to be at your race pace. You’re likely to start faster, finish faster and there may be a couple of surges in the middle of the race. If you only train at race pace then you’re going to struggle with these surges in pace because your body hasn’t adapted to operate at those kinds of speeds.

In a simplified way of putting it: if you improve your 1500m and 3000m strength, then you improve your 5000m strength. This is only one of the reasons why the multi-pace running system is so effective. It helps to teach your body to cope with all possible scenarios. Additionally, it means if you decide to attempt a different racing distance, you’re more likely to succeed as you’ve already trained your body to handle that pace and effort.

Why complete an over-pace workout?

If under-pace workouts are to give you a speed advantage, then over-pace workouts are there for the strength benefit. When a 5000m runner completes a 10000m workout, they are receiving a much larger aerobic boost than their workouts usually provide. The longer workouts completed slightly slower than their main distance race pace will dramatically help increase your overall fitness.

The more time you spend at a high intensity, the more your heart has to adapt to a continuous strain. As this training adaptation molds your heart into a formidable engine, you can deliver more oxygen to your working muscles whilst operating at a high effort. Essentially, this makes your 5000m race pace feel a lot more effortless (referring back to our example of a 5k athlete on this system).

This will also help provide the strength needed in certain race environments. For example, if you decide to make a long kick for home or there’s a long hill that saps all your energy, you’ll have trained for this stimulus. Because you’re used to a larger effort than your race pace provides, you’ll have the tools you need to combat these obstacles.

We mentioned earlier that for the 5000m example, the half marathon pace (pace no.5) will essentially be tempo pace. We’ve discussed the benefits of tempo running in a previous article, but I think it’s good to touch on this point again. As you train at a tempo pace, you teach your body to cope with and efficiently dissipate lactic acid. This means, as you operate at 5000m race pace, that you can operate for longer before experience any lactic acid effects.

Use this system, and yield greater running fitness.

If you want to be coached under a multi-pace running system, custom tailored to your ability, target race and goals, then head over to our online coaching page. We have 28 spots left on our coaching program – make sure you don’t miss out! Our coach will provide support and structure to your training to help you reach your running goals, whatever they may be.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram for daily motivation and updates. Whilst you’re here, why not check out some of our other articles…

The 5 Essential Training Components
Training to improve your running can be a complicated thing when there …
How To Become a Consistent Runner
Becoming a consistent runner is paramount to becoming a successful runner, there's …
The Benefits of Training By Heart Rate
It's becoming more and more common for runners to train by heart …
The Benefits of Easy Running
Not every run has to be fast for you to become a …

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.