Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Using RPE is a great way to keep tabs on the manage the intensity of your workouts and stay in tune with your body without relying on technology or tracking your metrics too closely.

The most compelling argument to adopt RPE is the acknowledgment that that no two runs are identical: a myriad of factors affect the amount of effort required for a workout, both external and internal – both physical and physiological factors affect RPE and how you feel. Including:

  • Weather (wind and temperature).
  • The terrain, steep or undulating, changes in surface.
  • Running Shoes, type racing, tempo, stability.
  • Level of tiredness or fatigue (the more tired you feel, the harder effort).
  • Whether you’ve eaten recently,  are you running on empty.
  • Hydration, have you drunk enough.
  • Willpower / motivation, some days you will lose your mojo.

When you consider all the varying factors, it makes less and less sense to compare your performance based purely on Heart rate, pace, distance, or time. Taking a subjective measure given all the factors can be a much better guide of the level of intensity.

There are several different scales used to measure perceived rate of exertion. Our training plans use a scale 1-10. Using effort during your training can be very useful and reduces the dependency on pace, heart rate and power. Ultimately it is how you feel, often more pertinent than what your device(s) measure. 

At its simplest RPE measures the intensity of effort.