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Rate of Perceived Exertion for Endurance Athletes


When assessing an individual’s perceived effort during physical activity, two widely recognized scales come to the forefront – the Borg Scale and the modern Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. Pioneered by Swedish researcher Gunnar Borg in the 1970s, the Borg Scale quantifies perceived exertion across a range of 6 to 20, encompassing descriptors from “no exertion” to “maximal exertion.”

On the flip side, the contemporary RPE scale, frequently used in endurance sports coaching, presents a user-friendly approach. Ranging from 1 to 10, this scale captures a holistic perception of effort, blending both physical and psychological factors.

The modern RPE scale serves as a valuable alternative to traditional measures like heart rate or power. Athletes and coaches leverage the RPE scale to fine-tune training intensity, offering a nuanced and intuitive gauge of exertion that complements and sometimes surpasses the insights provided by more technical metrics. At Power2Tri Endurance we strongly believe in using cycling power an heart rate for road running, however, for our Ultramarathon athletes often times RPE is better due to the length of races and the terrain they run over.

This intuitive and versatile tool aids individuals in optimizing their workout regimens by providing a nuanced understanding of exertion levels, contributing to a more effective and personalized training experience.

RPE Chart
10Absolute maximum effort, unable to continue, all-out exertion.
9Maximum effort, almost unsustainable, very difficult to speak.
8Extremely hard, almost maximal effort, brief sentences possible.
7Very hard, intense effort, limited conversation.
6Harder, requires focus, conversation challenging.
5Hard, challenging but manageable, conversation a bit difficult.
4Somewhat hard, steady effort, conversation still possible.
3Moderate, noticeable effort but sustainable.
2Easy, minimal effort required.
1Very light exertion, almost no effort.