Perceived exertion. Listening for the beat. Feeling the intensity and giving it a name, a rating, an acknowledgement.
With all the scientific and technical advances that have been made there is still a lot of benefit in knowing your rate of perceived exertion, RPE. Give a value or description of exertion, intensity, to your currently experienced effort. Sleep - 0/10
100% - 10/10
Walking to shop - easy
It's usually graded out of 20 or 10 and can be represented with expressional words and sentences.
If like me, you have mastered how to score RPE, then at any given time it is possible to express the heart rate within +-5 beats and judge running pace within +-1kph without referring to the tech. RPE was used to great effect in the final 20 miles of The Oner 82 mile endurance race. With no watch power left I was able to keep goal pace with consistent observations of RPE.
The gizmo's I do enjoy, and can't see myself in training without using them. HOWEVER,
I find my ability to pin down RPE slightly more difficult as I become desensitised to the 'feel' of the intensity and speed expressed. That is something I'm quite determined not to lose.
RPE goes hand in hand with fulfilling the connection that exists, and is to be nurtured, between mind and body.
Knowing, truly knowing, how to judge accurately the effort with no external assistance requires listening and asking questions of one self. A device will never provide this level of feedback.
The watches and apps can be used to establish a relationship between RPE and the facts. By looking away and guessing what's going on, as often as possible, will develop the perception, with the data confirming and over time become very accurate.
Mastering RPE will;
# improve pacing during all types of physical training
# make a session become more than a "strava" graph.
# initiate problem solving on how one is moving, usually form and rythymn in my experience
# enable the individual to work through the zones of intensity with confidence, knowing each has its own unique feel and description.
# save your session should the gizmo 'play up'
#build confidence in decision making. Awareness limits personal regrets.
How to master RPE?
Train and race without looking at the watch/ stats. Record them for referencing the personal summary against the actual stats.
Complete regular fitness tests that get you to experience the zones of intensity, describing the feeling along the way.
Gather heart rate/ speed data over time and start breaking into "easy to identify" zones.
Guess the heart rate or speed before looking at the gizmo.
Go and train 'blind' and chill.
There is plenty evidence to suggest that the tech makes training far more accurate and progressive for results.
Having practiced using RPE for all my training years, it is to never forget that the mind and body are the ultimate device to link and connect into. Using RPE as often as possible will keep this connection strong and provide a unique experience that no app has a trophy to represent.
Has this insight built your appetite to know more about RPE and you want to learn how to use it? Then please get in touch and we can arrange a session.