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Tempo Running -
Reasons Why We Do It and Top Tempo Workouts
What is tempo running?
So when exactly are you running at tempo pace?
Why should you run at tempo pace?
And what are the different running training
possiblities at tempo pace?
Read this page and you'll know more...
Oh by the way, don't want to read? Then simply check
out the tempo
running video below:
What is Running at Tempo Pace?
Tempo pace is the pace you can maintain for
approximately one hour. For many runners this
is somewhat slower than 10K race speed.
It's a speed between easy pace and interval pace.
Hard to establish?
Your heart rate monitor can help you here: Zone 3 as
defined via the Zoladz
of Heart Rate monitor Training is your tempo
Don't want to
use a heart rate monitor?
Then go by feel.
Your tempo pace is a steady pace, hard but doable.
Feel like you need to slow down after a while?
Then you are running too fast.
You need to be able to hold your pace!
Experiment a little until you have found the right
tempo pace for you.
Why Do We Run at Tempo Pace?
In one sentence : to increase our lactate treshold.
No, actually, the only good answer to that
question is: to be able to run faster!
What does one have to do with the other?
Tempo pace is also known as lactate treshold
If you run slower than tempo pace, your body will
not build up lactic acid.
If you go faster than tempo pace, lactic acid will
build up rapidly in your running muscles.
Too much lactic acid in your muscles and you will
quickly have to stop because your legs get too heavy
and you will need time to recover.
Wouldn't it be great if you could run fast and not
build up so much of that lactic acid?
Well, run at tempo pace!
You are then right on the edge: some lactic acid
will build up, but not too much to make it
impossible to run.
At this pace your body is getting trained at dealing
with lactic acid removal continuously. Over time
your body will get better at that.
Your body will become more efficient at removing
lactic acid from your running muscles.
And that is good. Because that means that the next
time you run, you will not build up as much lactic
acid in your running muscles as the last time you
ran at that same pace.
And your body will be able to get rid of it faster.
So something like this:
Tempo Pace Running Exercises
There are different exercises I do which involve
Short intervals (1 miles)
Do mile-intervals at tempo pace and jog in between
for two or three minutes. Do about 4 to 6
Longer intervals can be something like 4 x 10
minutes (5 minute jog in between), 3 x 15 minutes (5
minute jog in between) and, my favourite, 2 x 20
minutes (also with 5 minute jog in between).
You could also do one longer prolonged effort of 30
Quite tough, variety is key here, but I personally
feel that I get more out of a 2 x 20 minute tempo
session. But hey, it is your party. Try them
out and see what you like best!
I quite like longer pyramid-sessions. In preparing
for my races I do sessions of 50, 70 or 90 minutes.
These workouts are build up of 5- or 10-minute
intervals of running in a certain heart rate zone.
However, here you can also go by feel. Do what works
best for you.
Sample workouts I do or have done :
50 Minute workout of 10-minute intervals in
Zone 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1
70 Minute Workout of 10-minute intervals in
Zone 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1.
90 Minute workout of 10-minute intervals in
Zone 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 1.
The 90 minute workout serves multiple purposes : it
is a combination of long running and tough
Famous running coach Jack Daniels uses an
interesting workout which he calls the TLT.
The TLT-session starts, after a warm-up, with a
few tempo-intervals, then a long run and finishes
with a tempo run (or tempo intervals). The
thought behind the workout is twofold :
Do the long run with already tired legs
Do the last tempo session for mental toughness
Also when you are already tired you need to be able
to go fast.
One warning : it's a monster. So, not for the
faint of heart!
Important Things to Keep in Mind with Tempo Runs
Start your training with a warm-up.
Consisting of easy running for about 10 minutes.
You will want your body to be a little warm before
you start running at faster than easy pace.
A cooling down can be as simple as running the last
five or ten minutes of your workout at a slow, easy
pace and do some gentle stretching afterwards.
Also see the following article about stretches:
Important Running Stretches
Whenever you start doing tempo runs, whether it is
for the first time at all or for the first time
again after a period of base-building my advice is:
start with the
short intervals. The first few tempo pace
sessions can be very taxing.
I have sometimes felt very discouraged after a tempo
session. With the feeling that I could not run fast
anymore. But after only a couple of weeks your tempo
pace training will go better and better. So hang on
Start with the shorter intervals. And when you are
feeling good, take it to the next level (10-, 15-,
20-minute intervals or one long prolonged effort).
Your tempo run is supposed to be a run at a regular,
constant speed. So it is best to avoid hills.
Although a workout with tough hills can be a very
good workout as well, your tempo run is best served
with flat terrain. It is simply easier to control
your speed and effort.
Beware of the
When it is hot outside, you are going to feel a
difference. It's hard enough running at an easy pace
when it is hot, but doing quality workouts like
tempo workouts is even tougher. Adjust your pace
down, when the sun is out at full force!
Hard - Easy
A tempo workout counts as a hard day. So the next
day, schedule in an easy workout. This can be some
cross-training, a recovery run or complete rest. Try
to avoid another hard workout like a long run or
interval session. It will be too taxing on your body
and you run a much higher risk of injuries.
Tempo running is a great method to get faster. I
hope this page helped you in understanding tempo
running and in getting the most out of this very
useful running pace.
Tempo workouts are just one component of running
training. Make sure to check out the following page.
It summarizes a range of different running workouts:
Running Workouts - Why and How You Need to Do
You can only get to
peak performance when you train at all different
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