Rate of Perceived Exertion, commonly known as RPE, is a simple yet powerful tool for measuring one's physical exertion during an exercise session. Unlike other metrics, RPE is subjective and based on how you feel, both physically and mentally, making it unique to each individual. This subjective approach makes RPE a valuable metric for those looking to self-regulate their training and use their instincts instead of relying on data measurements (e.g heart rate). RPE is not a marker of how difficult or intense a training session is; RPE reflects how you feel during training or a race. We can use our own instinct rather than relying on data measurements.
Benefits of using RPE
One key benefit of RPE is that you can listen to your body, train to the right effort and still get the work in. Target paces in training is what we strive to achieve but on days we are feeling tired or not just as energetic, we can use RPE to guide us through the session. We might not want to push too hard to hit a target pace on a day we are feeling fatigued, but if we can use RPE to dial into the right the effort. In contrast, when we are having a great day, we will push the same effort but at a faster speed, higher weight or more power!
The Modified Borg Scale.
The most commonly used scale for measuring RPE is the modified Borg scale, which ranges from 1 to 10. This scale is a simplification of the original Borg scale, which ranged from 6 to 20. The modified scale measures RPE from 0, representing no exertion, to 10, representing maximum effort.
Create your own scale
You can also create your own scale as long as you have a range of metrics from sedentary to flat out! For example, 0% to 100%. or any other range that represents the level of exertion you feel during a workout. The key is to have a range of metrics that capture the entire spectrum of physical exertion, from sedentary to all-out effort.
Top-Tips for using RPE
Gauging your RPE can be tricky to start with but the more you use it, you will become accustomed to the rating scale. As your fitness and strength builds, your RPE will also adjust; what felt harder at the start of a training block, will begin to feel easier and therefore your RPE rating will be lower. A handy tip for measuring your RPE during running, is to use the talk test. At a very light effort, you should be able to comfortably hold a conversation and chat away. As the intensity of the movement increases, your ability to talk will decrease.
When to use RPE
At Runna, we recommend following pace targets as these are easiest to measure and compare against post-run as well as practicing that all important pacing ahead of race day! However, we would encourage you to use RPE on days you are struggling (we all get them!) and focus on getting the session done at the right intensity.
In conclusion, RPE is a valuable tool for measuring the intensity of a session and personalizing your training. It allows you to tune in to how you are feeling physically and mentally, and adjust to your training accordingly. Give it a try and see how it can help you achieve your fitness goals. As always, we are available through the Support Tab if you need any further support.