Women ages 40 to 60 years old must run a 26.2-mile distance in three hours forty-five minutes to four and a half hours to qualify for the Boston Marathon. This requires maintaining an 8.5- to 10.5-minute-per-mile pace for hours. If you are not looking to qualify for Boston, you may just want to find a pace that works for you. Because running is an individual sport, every runner will run differently. You are not wired like other people. You have your own genetic makeup, your own aerobic capacity and your own mind talk. Finding the appropriate pace to meet your specific goals and needs as an individual, at any age, is important, and you can use a few different techniques to determine exactly what it is.
Race Time Pace
If you consistently compete in races, you can use your race times to determine an appropriate running pace for your current fitness level. Use races that are 3.1 miles or 5 kilometers as an easy gauge. You need to have run in at least five races at your full exercise capacity in the past two months for this technique to give you a reliable pace. Total your past five race times and divide the total time by the total 15.5 miles you ran. This will give you a reasonable baseline for an appropriate 3.1-mile pace.
If you're not yet completing road races or have not consistently run in at least five road races of the same distance, you can still predict a good minute-per-mile pace to meet your running goals. Assess your current running capability by running one mile around a track. Run slightly faster than you normally run to gain a true idea of your aerobic running capacity. Be sure to complete four full laps and remain in the same lane throughout your run. After determining your pace for one mile, adjust that time slightly by adding about 30 seconds per mile for 5K distances and a minute per mile for your 10K runs.
Heart-Rate Training Pace
You can wear a heart-rate monitor to establish and run at a consistent pace. To use this technique, you wear the actual monitor around your chest that sends information about your heart rate to a gadget you wear around your wrist. Your heart-rate training pace will hover around 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Subtract your age from 220 to establish your maximum heart rate. Multiply this number by 0.70 to establish an appropriate heart-rate training pace.
Perceived Exertion Pace
Use rate of perceived exertion (RPE) to determine an appropriate personal running pace. Though this technique is the least precise, it remains a useful alternative if you don't have a heart-rate monitor. To use an RPE assessment, continue to ask yourself how hard you are working during a run. Give yourself a six for minimal effort, a 20 for maximal effort, and a corresponding number for any effort in between. Add a zero to your rating to gather an estimated current heart rate. When you take time to listen to your body and respond accordingly, you can gain a wealth of knowledge about how fast you are running in comparison to how fast you are capable of running.
Mary Marcia Brown has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than 15 years. A writer and runner with road race directorship experience, Brown has been published in "Running Journal," "Florida Running & Triathlon" and "Outreach NC."