How To Use The Borg Scale for Wonderful Running Experiences

Progression in your marathon training is all about the right composition of duration, variation, intensity, frequency, and volume of training to obtain the physiological adaptations, so you can peak at the right time in your running plan toward your chosen goals. Some runners run for experiences in nature but also want to participate in official races. How To Use The Borg Scale For Wonderful Running Experiences is an excellent way to measure your running intensity without all the fancy high-tech equipment you can use today.

Marathon Training Program

Before you choose a personal marathon training program, you also need a way to measure whether your training has the desired effect on the goals you have set up. Both to maintain your motivation and to get the best out of the time you invest in the training. Most people can complete a marathon training program. it’s about finding your current running level as the starting point, making a marathon training plan and being aware of your…

Marathon Training Intensity


borg scale in marathon training woman running


Running is like other types of training: It works very specifically, which means that a large part of the training, has to be on or around the race pace – the pace you expect to maintain on your chosen race in the future.

Therefore, you must adjust the training to the right pace, which means the right intensity, so you get the most out of your resources. Many training programs work with different intensities. Thus, when you run, you have to learn to distinguish between these intensities.

Two methods are very suited to find the right pace and thus managing your progress. One of them is particular for beginners who don’t want to invest in expensive technical equipment such as Sports Watches and training zones at least before they know that running is their preferred training form or they just don’t like the technical aspects. Therefore, the best choice here is…

Borg Scale Perceived Exertion


borg scale in marathon training our breathing


Some people run after either their intuition or how they feel because electronic aid such as a heart rate monitor either with a belt or a wristwatch easily can disturb your “real life” experience with running. Focus often directs in another direction, towards electronic opportunities rather than your experience and success as a runner.

Over time, most runners get a really good sense of their running pace. However, if you are a beginner, it will in most cases be beneficial learning to know your body’s signals, as the first experience.

Then you can use a heart rate monitor later, be instead aware of your breathing, listen to it and adjust the pace accordingly. By being aware of your breathing you can measure your running intensity using the borg scale perceived exertion.

As a beginner and because of less experience with running, you may maybe not know if you prefer a running shoe that is soft or hard, or if it e.g. should be a running shoe with a lot of extra cushioning and stability.

We have found a good starting point in choosing a proper running shoe. The Mizuno Wave Rider for men and women has become a classic in running and is one of the most popular neutral running shoes on the market.

The Mizuno Wave Rider has always been known for its very responsive sole material. The shoe has received an update on both the upper, middle- and outsole and is especially a good choice for a beginner.

borg scale in marathon training Mizuno Mens Wave Rider 24 Running Shoe
Mizuno Men’s Wave Rider 24 Running Shoe – click on the image for more info

Borg Perceived Exertion Scale

You can measure your running intensity on a scale. A very useful way to gauge how hard you run is to use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion. The Borg Scale takes into account your actual running level. It matches how hard you feel you are running.

In this way, the Borg scale (RPE) – Rate of perceived Exertion – can give you an indication of how hard you train i.e. the intensity at which you run. The principle is that you must feel your way and assess how much effort you train and then put a number on.

The Borg scale goes from 1-20 but in our case, we want to make a modification because it gives a better understanding and picture concerning running training.

If we put a 0 after the number it corresponds roughly to your heart rate, i.e. from 6 – 20 gives from 60 beats/min. at rest to 200 beats/min. by high intensive training. So, it goes from 6 to 20 instead of 1 – 20, because it is more pertinent and gives a better picture concerning marathon training.

Modified Borg Scale

An intensity of around 13 to 17 on the Borg scale, gives the “normal” marathon training area (LSD), corresponding to a heart rate of 130 – 170 beats/min.

The modified Borg scale in the table below shows how your breathing can guide you in finding the right pace within different intensities.

                                                               Intensity and experience
Borg scale Work Breathing Talk
6 – 7 None Easy Normal
8 – 9 None Easy Normal
10 – 11 Very easy Easy Normal
12 Moderate Easy Normal
13 A little exhausting Relative easy Normal
14 A little exhausting A little faster Normal
15 – 16 Quite exhausting Faster Almost normal
17 Very exhausting Heavy “Not” normal
18 Very exhausting Out of breath Short sentences
19 Extreme exhausting Very out of breath Few words
20 Maximum performance Gasp for breath Almost impossible

Training example

Below is a guide on how to use the table

Easy Pace

You can have a long conversation during your run.

Borg scale: 10 – 14

Beginner – The pace corresponds to about 60 – 70 % of your max. performance.

Experienced – The pace corresponds to about 50 – 60 % of your max. performance.

Moderate pace

You are not under pressure, can speak with short phrases and words.

Borg scale: 15 – 16

Beginner – The pace corresponds to about 70 – 80 % of your max. performance.

Experienced – The pace corresponds to about 60 – 70 % of your max. performance.

High pace

You are under reasonable pressure.

Borg scale: 17 – 18

Beginner – The pace corresponds to about 80 – 90 % of your


Experienced – The pace corresponds to about 70 – 80 % of your performance.

Very high pace

You are under pressure. The muscles begin to stiffen.

Borg scale: 19 – 20

Beginner – The pace corresponds to about 90 – 100 % of your max. performance.

Experienced – The pace corresponds to about 80 – 100 % of your max. performance.

Remember, it is your subjective assessment that determines whether it is for example 10 or 12 on the Borg scale for easy pace.

In my country, the Borg scale is also used with success in hospitals to treatment of heart patients when they start-up a physical exercise program. Mainly because It’s easier and the focus is on the subjective experience.

We cannot expect that all people in particular the older of us understand the technical skills of a sports watch. Also because as a heart patient your heart rhythm is often so irregular that a modern HRM does not show the correct picture of the patient’s actual health state.

Final Thoughts

If you are the intuitive type that goes after the actual running experience in E.g nature and has a running buddy to talk to, then the Borg scale would be a good choice for the running intensity level.

It’s a good alternative in today’s technology world with Sports & Smartwatches where you don’t have to think, feel and be aware of how you act and behave because everything is measured for you and the focus is more on best performance and not the actual experience.

I hope you like this blog and if you have any questions about the topic or want to leave your own Personal review, please leave a comment below.

What is the Borg scale?

The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a way of measuring physical activity intensity level. It's an excellent tool for beginners in running. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel your body works by being aware of your breathing.
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6 thoughts on “How To Use The Borg Scale for Wonderful Running Experiences”

  1. Hi,

    I really want to say a big thanks to you for sharing this insightful and informative article on the topic titled;borg scale in a marathon training. I really find this article interesting. I never really had much knowledge on the uses of Borg scale in marathon training. I think Borg scale is really very useful and nice. This is really educational. 

  2. Hello dear, thanks a lot for sharing such an amazing and informative article on the topic Borg scale in marathon training I actually came across this site I was not so sure of it sincerity but to my surprise it really hold quality information  though I don’t know much about Borg scale your explicit expression on this topic has really thought me a lots I have already save this website for recommendation and future reference thanks once more 

  3. Hey nice article you have there, your thoughts are indeed invaluable. The rate of perceived exertion can be useful for in season training when strength levels fluctuate due to changes in daily readiness and fatigue among athletes and cyclist. The need to measure the intensity of ones exercise to guarantee maximum efficiency cannot be overemphasize


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