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Rate of Perceived Exertion or RPE - Understanding and Using it

Updated: Nov 29, 2019

Have you seen running or cycling workouts talking about an RPE level? Have you seen RPE in books or articles describing how to train?

This article will describe what RPE is and how to use it. Most importantly, it will keep it very simple for everyone to understand.

What is it?

Quite simply: RPE or Rate of Perceived Exertion is a scale indicating how hard you are working. You can go look online and find many longer articles correlating it to your heart rate, or having descriptions for each number, or using a weird scale of 6 - 20. We at TVTC believe in keeping it simple so it can be used by everyone.

The scale: 1 - 10

Level 0 - imagine relaxing on a beach drinking a Mai Tai (or water)

Level 2 - 3 - a brisk walk - you can speak in full sentences without any problems

Level 4 - easy jog - you can speak in full sentences, but your breathing is starting to become labored

Level 7-8 - hard running - you can speak at most 3-4 words at a time

Level 10 - imagine a bear chasing you as you run for your life

What's the point of it?

If you want to improve your speed and endurance, you must vary your effort/speed when you run. The art and science comes in when you mix the different efforts for different amounts of time. This is the secret sauce to getting fast! This scale provides some measure of the different efforts you should be running at when training.

How do you use it?

When you join TVTC as a member or purchase a training plan you will see run and bike workouts. These workouts will mention an RPE Level (or Level or L). It will tell you the duration to run at each effort level. Following this as closely as possible will lead to greater speed improvements in a shorter time period.

Tell us below how following an RPE scale has improved your running.

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