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Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE scale) Explained: How to Use as a Runner and the Benefits of Using RPE

Introduction to Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE scale) for Runners

The RPE scale, short for Rate of Perceived Exertion, stands as a pivotal tool for runners, offering them a subjective lens through which to gauge their exertion levels during training sessions and races. Unlike more objective metrics such as heart rate zones or pace training zones, RPE delves into the runner's perception of effort, acknowledging the intricacies of how they feel during exercise. By attributing a numerical value to this perceived effort, runners gain invaluable insights into their physical strain, empowering them to make informed adjustments to their training intensity in real time.

Understanding the RPE Scale in Running: What is RPE in Running?

RPE, an abbreviation for Rate of Perceived Exertion, acts as a self-assessment tool, assigning a value on a modified scale of 1-10. In this scale, 1 signifies minimal exertion, akin to sitting, while 10 denotes maximal effort, such as an all-out sprint. This scale, differing from the original Borg RPE scale of 6-20, provides runners with a versatile means to articulate the intensity of their workouts, races, or recovery runs, serving as a complementary tool to objective data such as running power and HR Zones.

Common Misconceptions About RPE for Runners

Misconception 1: Some skeptics argue that RPE lacks scientific validity. However, research consistently demonstrates its strong correlation with physiological markers like heart rate and lactate levels, affirming its validity and practical utility.

Misconception 2: Another common misconception is that RPE remains consistent for everyone. In reality, individual perceptions of effort vary significantly based on factors such as fitness level, fatigue, and mental state, highlighting the subjective nature of the scale.

Benefits and Advantages of Using RPE Scale in Your Running Training

  • Individualisation: RPE allows personalised adjustments based on how an athlete feels on a given day. It adapts to the ebb and flow of training.

  • Real-Time Feedback: During workouts, RPE provides immediate feedback. Runners can fine-tune effort without relying solely on external devices.

  • Adaptability: RPE accounts for changing conditions—whether it’s a hot day, poor sleep, or stress.


RPE Scale Details