Systematic Review of the Metric: Effort Pace

This year, we embarked on a new journey of evolving Effort Pace by considering outside factors that may impact the athlete’s effort during training. Now personalized, Effort Pace digs into your historical data to monitor how well you handle various gradients while running. Many adjusted paces exist in the training world that will showcase a standard formula of uphill vs flat road pace. Effort Pace now takes into account your efficiency as a runner on different terrains.

In summary, Effort Pace becomes more accurate to the athlete’s actual ability and improves their experience during various training scenarios.

How does Effort Pace work?

As you run and hit a hill, you will instinctively slow down to maintain a similar intensity. This is an internal and subconscious mechanism that adapts your body to external factors in order to maintain a steady state. In the running world, this adaptation has hardly ever been quantified. The new personalized Effort Pace now comes in play to best represent this metabolic response curve into a fully individualized unit that runners can understand and easily apply to their training routine.

As seen in the graph below, Effort Pace not only provides an adjusted pace, but also factors in our own strengths and weaknesses as runners. That way, athletes can fully rely on this new personalized metric to monitor their own effort through training.

Theoretical model of Effort Pace through various gradients (%)

This graph above can be interpreted this way. Think of it as a run down a very steep hill (20%) that gradually flattens, and then turn around and run back up while keeping a steady pace throughout. Let’s dissect this graph together.

  • As you start running down in the steeper part of the road (10-20%), Effort Pace will display as a faster pace. This is due to the fact that additional effort is required given the massive eccentric load that those conditions put on your body.
  • As you keep running down the road in more gentle slopes (0-10%), Effort Pace will switch to a slower pace. Those conditions could be considered the sweet spot for your body to keep a steady intensity with less effort required.
  • Finally, as you turn around and run back up the road at the same pace, Effort Pace will keep showing faster paces as it keeps getting steeper. Obviously, extra effort is needed for you to maintain a given pace as the slope steepens.
  • The dotted red lines show just how personalized Effort Pace can be regarding your training history. For example, if you are a power athlete, there is a good chance your Effort Pace will show slower values during uphills as you do not require as much effort in this type of terrain. On the other end, if you lack mobility in your lower-body, chances are that your Effort Pace will show higher values during downhills as this terrain requires great lower-body mobility.

Case-Study 1

Steady-intensity workout with Pace displayed
Steady-intensity workout with Effort Pace displayed

During this workout, the athlete maintained a constant intensity despite the elevation. This strategy leads to broad data as seen with the Pace graph. This same intensity can be much better appreciated in the Effort Pace graph where effort is displayed linearly as a clear interpretation of intensity.

Key Takeaways
  • Our internal adaptation to intensity can be quantified and easily interpreted by Effort Pace
  • Although both metrics (Pace & Effort Pace) are displayed in the same units, their graph are not to be analysed in the same way.
    • Pace: running speed through a 3D plan
    • Effort Pace: Relative effort of the athletes’ pace as if they were running on a flat terrain

Case-Study 2

Interval workout with high-intensity phases during steep uphills (Uphills at ~20%; Downhills at ~7%)

This athlete completed a hill-repeat workout with high-intensity bouts on uphills and active recovery bouts on downhills. Effort Pace will tend to show the relative intensity (or effort) of the athlete during those interval workouts compared to Pace. As mentioned earlier, the new personalized Effort Pace now reflects the athlete’s relative intensity which is in direct relation to his metabolic response to exercise. Therefore, Effort Pace can be monitored as relative effort displayed in the same unit (and so comparable) to Pace.

Key Takeaways:

  • Personalized Effort Pace will display individualized values that are not comparable across athletes.
  • Athletes can monitor Effort Pace over time on the same route to assess overall fitness.

Coaching Perspective

Steady-intensity workout with Effort Pace displayed with HR as a backup metric

As Effort Pace keeps getting personalized, it will quickly become a key metric for coaches to see where the athletes spend most of their effort during training. Below are some aspects to consider as you start incorporating Effort Pace into your training analysis:

  • Effort Pace is a measure of relative intensity individualized to the athlete.
  • The more running data the athlete produces, the more reliable Effort Pace becomes.
  • Effort Pace allows you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete based on how their body adapts to certain situations.
  • Effort Pace can be used as an intensity zone for structured workouts.
  • Effort Pace will keep getting personalized by incorporating additional external factors that may impact performance.
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