Couch to 5K


OK, it's just words when you understand them but some of the words become jargon in the mouths of others and it's easy to lose track of what they mean. Running is as guilty of this as any so I wonder if anyone could run through the use of some of the following:

Splits - clearly a way of noting what speed you are doing at a given point but what is their significance and how can knowing this help?

Cadence - presumably not a musical term.

Pace - the difference between this and cadence.

Speed - probably obvious but, when combined/compared with the above, possibly not.

I'm sure there are others that peolpe will be wondering about.

Or maybe it's just me.

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From my understanding:

Splits - what length of time it takes to complete a set distance. Many GPS watches and programs let you set which distance you'd like to use. In my case, I use kilometers. So if I run 5km, I can look at how long each km took me. It lets me see if I started off too fast, and then slowed down by the end of the run. It lets me see if I'm running evenly throughout. You may also hear of a negative split run, which means that you run each split faster than the last. It lets you compare

Cadence - how many steps per minute you are running. Higher cadence equals more steps, which should translate into faster running.

Pace - how long it would take you to complete a kilometer (or mile) at your current rate of speed. So if you have a pace of 7:00 - you would expect you'd finish a kilometer in 7 minutes. A lower number for the pace means you are moving faster. I find this much easier to relate to than speed for some reason.

Speed - the rate at which you are running. So you might be running at 8 kilometers per hour for example. Higher numbers equals faster running.


Thank you. I have seen apps and charts where these are just given a number so you have a pace of, say, 7.00. Without the kpm alongside, it is unclear what exactly that means. Similarly withe cadence.

So thank you for very clear explanations of the terms and their use.

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Cadence has the same meaning in running as in music: The rhythm.

Pace and speed can be confusing at first. Pace is measured in minutes per km: m/km, whereas speed is measured in km per hour: km/h (lets not confuse things with miles just now)


Another, different musical use of cadence:

A sequence of notes or chords comprising the close of a musical phrase.

‘the final cadences of the Prelude’

which is what confused me.

Thanks, I really appreciate these definitions.


Pace is useful because often we know how long of a distance we want to run for. We're running a 5km Parkrun, we're training for a 10km race, our route is 3km long. I can gauge pretty easily how long that will take me if I look at my pace. Since speed is measured per hour, it's a little less quick to calculate on the fly.


That's going to be helpful. Anything to make the maths easier has to be good.


Brilliant explanation RWD 👍🏼


I thought cadence was the angle of a path.... 🤔


Cadence – also known as stride rate – is the number of steps a runner takes per minute (SPM). It's the most common metric used to measure running form.

In the context of running, pace, can mean the inverse of speed, whereas speed is measured in units of distance per unit of time, pace is measured in units of time per unit of distance.

Splits: A race's total time divided into smaller parts, is known as the splits. If a runner has an even split, it means they ran the same pace through the entire race. If it's a negative split, they ran the second half faster than the first.:)

But runswithdogs explanation was much clearer..:)

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We also tend to get way too bogged down in our stats, particularly early on.


This is a great post, thank you for bringing it up. Your right it is easy to assume everyone knows, when really why would they it's a new sport and new terminology.

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