Using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) as a Runner

Woman runner tired laying on ground

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is the measure of how much effort a person feels it takes to perform a physical activity. The Borg Scale utilizes a scale of 1- 20, but it’s also common to use a scale of 1 to 10.

Using RPE is a helpful way for runners to determine if they are performing in the right intensity zones to reach their goals. It’s often used in conjunction with heart rate training.

The chart below provides explanations (in runner’s terms) for each number on the scale.

We recommend completing most of your runs at an RPE of 3-4 to reach your potential as a runner and stay injury-free. To learn more about this, read: What is 80/20 running? Using Polarized Training to Your Benefit.


Hi, I'm Jane! I'm an avid runner who races 5ks to marathons. After a 4:59 first marathon, I came back to the distance years later running a BQ time of 3:36. I did a lot wrong for a long time and finally started doing a lot right. Now I'm an RRCA certified running coach and love sharing what I've learned to help others run their best.

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