So, judging this alone is always tougher, so give yourself some leeway, but know which way you’re leaning. I’ve realized a few things:
Super easy pace: you almost never need to run this until you’re REALLY working out and pushing yourself. Once you are it finds you, you don’t have to find it.
Easy pace: you have to lock this in, and again, if you’re working out you tend to find it and not accidentally fall into…
Up Tempo Pace: I honestly don’t run this pace quite as much when I’m really working hard. As you mentioned, this is more of a “eh, it’s nice out and I felt good, get off of me!” kind of pace. Which is totally valid, but doesn’t come about as much for me when I’m in the thick of training.
Tempo Pace: run a half marathon to find this, or figure out what you fall into for a 20–30min tempo and hit that.
Interval pace: honestly, this was the pace I largely avoided without training partners. I was scared. I was too proud to go out, try to hit splits, fall off and feel bad about myself. It’s taken workout partners and practice to have the confidence to roll at these speeds. And “these speeds” are totally relative. But if you hit interval pace in a week, Super Easy and other paces will find you.
I’ve also used the Garmin HR zones to give me an idea. I use the Garmin 235 to make sure I’m running easy when I should be running easy, and the chest strap to read my HR during races.
AND — I think your instinct to learn paces is spot on. As I’ve dialed in paces I’ve realized I’m learning micro paces, like my Interval 800 vs my Interval 1200 paces. But again, all of this is easier with a training partner.
Cheers to Dad Strength!