Threshold Times

The attached table contains ballpark “Threshold” times in minutes/seconds for three repetition distances 400 metres, 800 metres and 1000 metres and their relation to times in minutes for four race distances, 5 kilometres, 10 kilometres, 10 miles and half-marathon.

Remember “Threshold Pace” is the pace which, if you run faster, will produce a level of lactic that cannot be flushed away sufficiently quickly: this corresponds roughly to your 10 miles even race pace. It is sometimes described as “comfortably hard”, allowing you the odd sentence, but not a continuous monologue! But you are allowed to smile and hold crisps without breaking them!

How can the table be used to work for you? It can be used in various ways, as illustrated by the following examples:

  1. Suppose you have recently completed a 10K race in 50 minutes. Then, as a rough guide, your threshold times for the repetition distances 400m (1 lap), 800m (2 laps) and 1000m 2.5 (laps) will be in the vicinity of 2min 4sec, 4min 9sec and 5min 11sec for 400m, 800m and 1000m, respectively.
  2. Suppose that last week your average 800m threshold pace over the 4 repetitions was about 3min 29sec. This would suggest that had you had proper preparation for racing 5K, you might expect your time to be about 20 minutes.
  3. Suppose you don’t have access to a track; for example, it may be university vacation time, or you couldn’t get to the Monday track session which consisted of four 800 repeats with 60 seconds recoveries, but you want to do it in your own time. If your threshold pace for 800m is 5 minutes, then just run 4 lots of 5 minutes at your threshold pace with 60 seconds recoveries. You may chose to run these repeats over the same section or just part of a route you know, remembering to use the first part of the route to warm up by running easily for 10 minutes, then 4 lots of 20 seconds strides before the main effort, and using the last part of the route to warm down by running easily for about 10 minutes.