Do you feel your running routine has become as monotonous as the tick-tock of a metronome? Would you like to jazz it up a little? Look no further, a tempo run workout is your way to go! These high-energy sessions should get your legs moving and your heart pumping while helping you enhance your speed and endurance (1). And this is the entire purpose of a tempo run – to improve your speed and enable you to hold a challenging pace longer. If you are all set to raise your strength threshold, explore all the ins and outs of a tempo workout. This article would be an excellent place to start in this endeavor. Below we have rounded up the nitty-gritty of this routine for our readers to gain more perspective. Have a look!
What Is A Tempo Run Example?
A tempo run pace is the effort level you can maintain for roughly an hour or so in a race. This sustained effort allows your body to run fast for an extended period, whether training for a half or a 5k marathon.
You can easily find a running pace that you can maintain for 20 minutes, but a tempo pace should last for around 45-60 minutes. If you struggle to determine the ideal pace, the following cue might help.
Try to perform a tempo run workout at 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than your current 5k speed. Or consider keeping it 15 to 20 seconds per mile slower than your 10k pace.
Finding an ideal pace for tempo runs will help you to curate a running routine. This will be a high-quality workout and soon will become an indispensable component of your training.
How Do You Structure A Tempo Run?
Now that you know the advantage of tempo runs, let’s learn how to structure one.
It is best to start tempo running when you already have some experience running rather than after a long break. Choose a midweek run day and begin with a dynamic warm-up followed by some soothing miles to warm up your body.
Remember that tempo runs require an effort level of 6-8 out of 10. For example, if you intend to run a marathon, you should stay near the lower range of 6 out of 10, but if it is time for a 5k or 10k race, pumping up your effort to an 8 will be more beneficial.
Track down good trails and be mindful of your tempo while tempo running to ensure you get the most out of it.
The following are some tempo run workouts that could help to raise your threshold:
Start and end the run with a 1-mile warm-up and cooling down. Run the initial and ending miles at a leisurely pace. Run these miles at a 30-45 seconds slower pace than your 5k racing pace. For instance: 1-mile warm-up, 2 miles at a tempo pace, and 1 mile for cooling down.
Read More: Breathing Techniques For Running: Make Your Runs More Fun!
Again, starting this workout with a 1-mile warm-up and cooling down would be best. Run the beginning and ending miles at a conversational pace. For the miles between, switch between a 5-minute fast and a 5-minute slow interval.
The fast interval should be covered at 25-30 seconds slower than your 5k pace. Continue switching between these fast and slow intervals until you hit the last cool-down mile. For example, 1-mile warm-up, 3-mile alternating 5-min fast pace and 5-min slow pace intervals, then end this routine with a mile of cooling down.
This tempo run routine teaches your mind and body that you can pull it out on the back half of the run. You have to run the first half at a conversational speed. Then, run the back half at a tempo pace while creating a negative split. For example, run at an easy pace for 3 miles, then run back 3 miles at a tempo pace.
This workout is excellent for those training for a half or full marathon. Start and end these runs with a 1-mile warm-up and cooling down. Run the miles in between at full or half marathon race pace. For example, a 1-mile warm-up, followed by a 4-mile race pace and ending with a mile for cooling down.
Is Tempo Run A Speed Workout?
Tempo running is a speed workout that falls in the same category as fartlek and interval workouts (2). While tempo runs may look similar to interval training, they are actually very different.
Tempo runs involve sustaining a tempo pace effort for 20 to 30 minutes straight, while interval training requires stopping and starting in repetitions. This running style may build up your body’s speed endurance so that you can better handle race day distances, whether for 5k or more extended distances.
To optimize the tempo run workout for 5k, push yourself to go fast enough to feel fatigued at the end. Tempo pace varies from person to person but should provide an intensity level that pushes you to work hard.
How Many Times A Week Should You Do Tempo Runs?
Tempo run workouts are an invaluable component of training for any race and should be part of your routine. But try to limit tempo run workouts to one to two times per week and combine them with speed work and weekly long runs (3).
For the maximum benefit on race day, tempo run workouts should begin within the first 2-3 weeks of your training plan and remain consistent throughout it, depending on its length. Rest days are essential too. Make sure to take a few rest days between each tempo run workout to avoid overtraining.
While tempo runs and other kinds of intense speed work can produce incredible results for your performance, it is vital to remember that “more is not better” in this case.
Integrating tempo runs into every training session would be unwise as this could lead to severe exhaustion and injuries (4). A single tempo run workout per week can still improve your strength significantly. Veteran runners may double their intensity by including a second tempo or interval workout, but you won’t miss out if you stick to one.
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What Are The Benefits Of Tempo Run Workouts?
Finding the proper workout can be daunting, but tempo runs could provide the solution. These types of exercises combine aerobic and anaerobic exercise, making them an excellent option for anyone looking to take their training to a new level.
A tempo run is designed to improve speed, promote muscular endurance and help athletes develop a target pace for events such as marathons or races (5). Studies have also shown that tempo workouts can monitor progress and push your body to greater fitness than traditional exercises like running intervals and fartleks (6).
Ultimately, unlocking the benefits of tempo runs could provide you with the tools needed to reach your unique goals. Here are the perks that may come your way when you include a tempo run workout in your training:
May Improve Speed
As any runner knows, achieving running goals can seem daunting. An effective workout technique for increasing endurance and speed is a tempo run. While it requires some discipline, these intimidating runs help to push the body to run harder and faster while also building the usual anaerobic threshold (7).
Molly Armesto, a running coach and founder of All About Marathon Training, recommends pushing yourself by gradually lengthening the duration of your runs to change up your routine (8). By following these tips gradually, runners soon seriously boost their performance and increase their ability to sustain faster paces without becoming fatigued as quickly.
May Enhance The Blood Flow
Know that the lactate threshold predicts distance-running performance (9). Unfit people have a lower lactate threshold than those who aren’t. The more fit you are, the higher your lactate threshold.
A tempo run aids in this process by clearing the lactate acid and increasing your overall lactate threshold. So, the tempo running delays the point at which your lactate levels may begin to rise, hence, postponing the point where you feel fatigued. Eventually, your body feels rejuvenated with higher stamina and speed.
Recent research suggests that tempo training as part of a running routine may improve the body’s ability to generate energy and simultaneously reduce lactate formation (10). This is attributed to adaptations in the mitochondria, which are considered the cell’s tiny ‘power plants’.
Tempo runs stimulate the development of blood capillaries around the muscles, allowing for optimum blood flow that enhances lactate clearance while maximizing oxygen delivery.
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May Improve Cardiovascular Fitness
Runners must maintain solid cardiovascular fitness to maintain their position on the field. When running, your heart rate must increase to ensure oxygen can reach the muscles efficiently. But, as the heart rate increases, you move away from the aerobic threshold that can limit your potential.
Integrating a tempo workout into the training plan may help to raise your cardiac output, endurance, and VO2 max (11). This may help you to reach new performance levels that weren’t available before. This kind of workout may enhance your cardiovascular capability, allowing the heart and lungs to cope with increased intensity during sustained exercise.
Provides Mental Stimulation
Tempo runs are a vital part of preparing for any race. They can be considered critical ingredients to success. By incorporating them into your regular training routine, you can start to master and perfect your pacing strategy while reaching new thresholds of speed that can help you push further on race day.
Training at speed just below your all-out effort takes tremendous mental focus and concentration. This, in turn, may allow you to develop the mental toughness needed to come out on top during a competitive race.
Keeping your body on its toes by mixing up the intensity of your tempo runs is one way to maximize the effectiveness of your workouts and prepare for various scenarios you may encounter during race time.
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The Bottom Line
Building endurance isn’t an easy feat. It would be best if you curated a plan that fits your lifestyle and gradually pushes you to set higher milestones. You may notice a significant difference in speed, strength, and fitness after 3 – 4 months of consistency.
Remember that becoming a better runner requires effort, time, and a solid training plan. Try incorporating a tempo run workout in this plan once or twice weekly. Suddenly initiating a 6-mile tempo workout would be a massive mistake as it may exhaust you on day one. Set smaller goals and reach for higher objectives.
Who knows that 1 or 2 years later, your current 10k pace might convert into your half marathon pace? Train smart and stay confident so that your running may be on a whole new level soon!
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Tempo Running: What It Is and Why It’s Beneficial (2022, www.verywellfit.com)
- What’s the difference between fartlek, tempo and interval runs? (2015, www.runnersworld.com)
- How to Get in That Tempo Run (2020, www.healthline.com)
- Tame your tempo (n.d., www.sportsperformancebulletin.com)
- Deliberate practice in training differentiates the best Kenyan and Spanish long-distance runners (2019, www.tandfonline.com)
- Factors Affecting Training and Physical Performance in Recreational Endurance Runners (2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What You Need to Know About Anaerobic Exercise (2019, www.healthline.com)
- How To Get Back Into Running Again (2020, www.thesportreview.com)
- Plasma lactate accumulation and distance running performance (1979, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Changes in onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) and muscle enzymes after training at OBLA (1982, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What is a Tempo Run and why do you need it? (n.d., www.sciencetraining.io)