Aug 03

Perceived Effort

Categories: General, Glossary

Perceived Effort (also known as subjective effort) is a 0 to 10 based scoring system that reflects your own personal view on the level of exertion required to perform an activity / workout. Below is a guide.

0RestApart from lying, sitting or standing still, you are not doing anything! Get off that couch!
1Very very easyVery light exertion, such as gentle walk.
2Very easyLight exertion, such as a fast walk or even a gentle run.
3EasyAn exertion level that you can easily hold a conversation. One you feel that you could maintain for hours. This is commonly the level for a typical easy run.
4ModerateYou can still hold that conversation, it’s just getting a little more difficult.
5Somewhat hardIt is difficult to hold a conversation at this level, and you certainly need a little time between sentences to get your breath back.
6Moderately hardYour breathing’s getting hard and you can only manage short sentences at a time. Generally, this is the level that TrainAsONE Threshold workouts are aiming for, though you might feel otherwise.
7HardAn intense level of exercise, where you are breathing hard and when asked to do it for 15 minutes your only thought is ‘no way’ (to put it mildly).
8Really hardA high level of exercise that you could maintain for at most 6 to 8 minutes. You might be able to utter a word or two, but you’d be gasping if you did. Generally, this is the level that TrainAsONE Interval workouts are targetted at, though you might think differently!
9Really really hardThis is an extremely high exertion level that you could maintain for not much more than a minute – if you are lucky. Talking is probably out of the question. Generally, this is the level that TrainAsONE Repetition workouts are aiming for, though you might feel otherwise!
10MaximalYour maximum effort. This would be ‘all out’ efforts such as your fastest sprints or a race where you ‘gave it your all’. Consequently, this should mean that this rating would include fast assessment runs.
A guide to Perceived (Subjective) Effort.

Four important points:

  • Whilst the above is centred on expressing effort with respect to breathing and conversational ability, your rating should also reflect additional factors such as duration and general fatigue. For example, a very slow paced run that you can easily hold a conversation (level 3), but is of a long duration on tired legs would be upgraded to a higher score. As such, and expressed above, by definition a best effort race would also be a 10.
  • When scoring speed workouts and assessment runs you should primarily be thinking about the fast steps. However, if (for example) you found the warm-up and cool-down steps a little harder than you would expect you may wish to increase your score slightly.
  • This is a guide. Do not feel bound by it. For example, we know users who find Repetition runs not as strenuous as the above would suggest and mark them nearer a 7 and feel Intervals are more of a 9.
  • Find a set of rules that seem right for you, and stick to these. Consistency of how you score is more important than the scores themselves, i.e. If I always score my easy runs as a 4 and you a 2, that is fine.

About The Author

Dr. Sean Radford, the Founder & CEO of TrainAsONE, is a medical doctor, IT expert, coach and podium finisher in international endurance events. He has dedicated more than 20 years to the research of health, fitness and social well-being of the general population. He has been developing Artificially Intelligent (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools to help tackle some of the world’s leading health issues. Dr Radford is a Tech Ambassador for the UK, considered a leading expert in his field, and is a regular speaker at key events, as well as an author of numerous research publications.