A while back I wrote an article on training intensity guidelines for runners. The idea is to try optimise your training by making your easy days easy, and your hard days hard. To make this even easier, I’ve developed the Training Intensity Emojis.
The Training Intensity Emojis are designed to help optimise your training by helping you quantify your effort (intensity) so you can relate it back to the prescribed workout in your training plan.
The ‘feeling’ emoji represents your effort level or intensity. It’s purely subjective. During your next run just ask yourself “How hard are you working right now?” Choose an emoji.
The RPE is the Rate of Perceived Exertion and it’s a measure of how hard the effort feels to you on a 1-10 scale. This number based system doesn’t work for everyone. I have received many a strange look from clients when I’ve asked “How hard does this effort feel on a scale of 1 to 10?”. It’s a bit like asking “How much do you love your dog on a scale of 1 to 10?”. It’s the same problem we have when the Doctor asks us to rate our pain on a 1 to 10 scale. Exertion, love, pain … these just aren’t things we think of in numbers.
Now you can use the “feeling” emoji to guide you to the right RPE number.
The training run column gives you some examples of common training runs you will find in many training programs. These can now be related back to the appropriate RPE and feeling emoji. If your training plan prescribes a “5k tempo run”, you can refer to the emoji to workout what it should feel like.
If you were doing a marathon, you wouldn’t start running at the same pace you would choose for a 100m sprint. The race pace column is really helpful for orientating your effort/intensity. It’s much easier to think “This is the pace I would run for a 5k race” than “This is my RPE 6 pace”.
Simply choose a pace that you would choose for that race. Your chosen pace/effort can be related back to the other columns to help make sure you are choosing the right intensity for your workout.
The heart rate zone column refers to 5 zones divided up by a percentage of your maximum heart rate. Personally, I think heart rate zone training is an excellent way to help you make sure you are hitting the right intensity for each workout. It does involve a little more work than just using the Training Intensity Emojis though. If you want to go that route I’d recommend using Matt Fizgerald’s 80/20 zone calculator.
Training Intensity Zones
The Emojis are supposed to be a quick reference to help you determine the correct intensity for a given workout. I broke down how the different intensities relate to various other measurements in my earlier article Running Intensity Guidelines.