Determining Training Paces

For a Fall Cross Country season, begin in the summer with the earliest workouts, recording distances, times, and paces for each athlete. Once you have two weeks of workout recorded, begin to individualize the workouts. Use my “Training Paces on One Page” table 1. It is my adaptation of Dr. Jack Daniels Table, “Training Intensities Associated with Current VDOT”.

TABLE 1 training paces based on vdots

Jack Daniels wrote Daniels Running Formula, in which he presents his VDOT system. Dr. Daniels is a renowned exercise physiologist and coach. He measured, tested, and studied thousands of runners over many years. His research combines heart rate, VO2 max, and other measurements of fitness to arrive at his VDOT system. His scientific studies provide an accurate way of telling athletes how fast to run in any given workout. This maximizes their individual development. Daniels’s work has taken the guesswork out of determining at what paces athletes should run. Instead of saying, “run at 80 percent” or “run hard”, it is possible to give each runner a specific pace that matches their current abilities.

For more on Dr. Daniels and VDOT calculation:Jack Daniels’ VDOT Running Calculator | Run SMART Project

How to individualize and determine training paces

After you have gathered the initial data about distance, time, and pace, find the average pace of those runs in the E pace column on my “Training Paces on One Page” table (Table 1). Then look to the far left and find the VDOT associated with that pace. This is the athletes initial VDOT. Do this for each athlete. Continue to record data for all subsequent workouts and adjust the VDOTs as training progresses.

For any given workout, from long run, to tempo workout and speed sessions, find the pace indicated for a given workout by simply looking at the VDOT and moving across to the workout column. For example, an athlete, with a VDOT of 50, doing Tempo 1000’s, look under T paces 1000. The pace indicated is 4:14. I would prepare a goal sheet for a workout, with each runners’ goals listed. Record the results and use to adjust VDOTs and goals for future workouts.

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