The Tempo Run

16 messages
26/07/2013 at 12:22

Can someone give me an expanation of the tempo run. Ive been doing a lot of reading on the internet and Im getting a bit confused. I have a few key questions:

What is it?

What pace should I run it at( 17.02 5k)

Will it help in preparartion for the cross country season?

26/07/2013 at 12:49

Stitchy - someone on here will probably post a far more scientific explanation than me (I am only expert in the science of beer making), but here's my interpretation of it:

The tempo run is a very useful session - I run a tempo session weekly or fortnightly. The aim is to get the body used to the exertion of race pace, and dealing with lactic acid. For me tempo pace is my current 10k race pace, something I can sustain for 25 minutes in the training environment. The distance of a tempo run varies, and should be adjusted depending on the race you are aiming for, e.g when I was training hard for a 5k pb I did 3k tempo runs, as well as the odd 5k time trial (which was about the same pace as tempo).

I believe tempo runs can also be 'split' e.g. 3 x 1 mile at tempo pace.

It will definitely help in preparation for the cross country seasion & I can also recommend fartlek and hill work.

Another good session is: warm up, then 15-20 mins to a certain point on a road/cycle track at a steady pace, then try and get back to your starting point 2 minutes quicker on the return. I do this when I am bored and want to introduce a bit of faster running - it is also good for teaching you to run strong for the 2nd half of a race, so I'd assume will help with a negative split.

You are much faster than me, so I can't really give an indication of pace but hopefully someone will. I do not own a garmin and never intend to as for me running is about freedom, but I hope this helps a little bit. I have been running for 20 years so my above advice is based on experience only. Good luck!

26/07/2013 at 13:02

What you do in a tempo run depends on your objective as suggested above. There are so many options with a tempo run. Last night i did 3 x 8 mins at 5k pace with 3 min recovery, last week i did 3 sets of 2 miles at 10kp with 5 min recovery, week before i did a pyramid of 1 mile @ mp, hmp, 10kp,10kp, hmp, mp. If i wanted to work my lactate threshold i would tempo at a pace that is about 30 seconds slower than my 5kp, which works out at about 10 mile pace.

Most things I have read suggest that for most this is probably the core quality session of the week in any training plan and should be the last session to be missed.

Edited: 26/07/2013 at 13:03
26/07/2013 at 13:38

Thanks, what pace should I ru this at. For say 20 mins worth?

26/07/2013 at 13:52

McMillan suggests 5:45-6:00 minute mile pace for a continuous tempo (around 20 mins as you suggest) based on your 5k time.  Correct pace for tempo intervals would be very slightly faster at 5:41-5:55.

You can build that 20 mins up over time to say 40 mins. For longer tempos you can drop the pace a little.  Say 50-60 minutes at half marathon pace.

Don't forget to put in a good warm up first.  Preferably at least a couple of miles easy running and a cool down run of 1 or 2 miles afterwards.  

26/07/2013 at 14:43

Thanks everyone!

26/07/2013 at 14:53

Tempo runs are just a term for a harder than steady workout which makes your breathing less than comfortable. How hard that is depends on the individual runner and what they are training for. If it's too comfortable, you aren't doing a tempo run and if you can't sustain it for a few miles at least then you are probably working too hard. 

26/07/2013 at 16:55

I've heard some people suggest tempo is the quickest pace you can hold when running for an hour - so for faster people approx 10 mile pace and for slower maybe 10k pace . Largely arbritary though and I agree the key is to make sure you're doing some sort of weekly session with some chunks at variations of harder perceived efforts.

Love 'em or hate 'em they are supposed to help. Enjoy !

26/07/2013 at 17:16
Frazerelli wrote (see)

I've heard some people suggest tempo is the quickest pace you can hold when running for an hour - so for faster people approx 10 mile pace and for slower maybe 10k pace . Largely arbritary though and I agree the key is to make sure you're doing some sort of weekly session with some chunks at variations of harder perceived efforts.

Love 'em or hate 'em they are supposed to help. Enjoy !

That's pretty much the definition that most people use. It can be confusing as many people have different definitions.

So given that's the pace you run at the idea is that you then run at that pace for around 30-40mins with 10min warm up and 10min cool down. 

26/07/2013 at 17:22

The aim is to boost your aerobic threshold. You can only do this by running up near it.

26/07/2013 at 17:46

I think that to someone who needs to know what a tempo run is " boost your aerobic threshold" does more to confuse than to offer an explanation. I prefer to keep the terminology simple. Run hard enough to make your breathing uncomfortable but able to maintain it for a long time. How long might depend on a lot of factors such as the distance the athlete is training for. 

26/07/2013 at 21:46

I don't agree that a tempo run has to be at the pace you can hold for one hour. That's a lactate threshold tempo run which is perfect if you solely want to push up your lactate threshold.

That of course is a key training pace but other paces need training as well. If you are training to say run a 39 min 10k, you need to practise how running at that pace feels. Running the full distance at that pace in training in one go would be exhausting, so therefore breaking it up into tempo blocks is what is done.

26/07/2013 at 23:21

It gets confusing as some authors use Tempo in a specific way, whereas others use it as a term for a err "up tempo" pace. Mcmillan for example uses Tempo as a specific pace based on one hour race pace. His calculator will supply you with a pace for Tempo Runs and Tempo Intervals, along with some snazzy videos describing the terms.

Other authors would call Mcmillans Tempo Pace the  "lactate threshold pace", and used tempo as any pace above steady state running.

I use the term Tempo quite loosely and tend to include paces from Marathon Pace up to approx 10k pace. Pace and distance vary on the training needs. 

At the end of the day you are having to put a bit of effort in unlike a nice easy run

27/07/2013 at 09:02
Sussex Runner NLR wrote (see)

I think that to someone who needs to know what a tempo run is " boost your aerobic threshold" does more to confuse than to offer an explanation. I prefer to keep the terminology simple. Run hard enough to make your breathing uncomfortable but able to maintain it for a long time. How long might depend on a lot of factors such as the distance the athlete is training for. 

Possibly. But that's why it's a confusing term rand misused. I don't do them but probably should. Aerobic threshold is a fairly simple term that can be googled and consistently comes up with the same answers, as does lactate threshold.

I'm not sure how running at or below lactate threshold is going to boost it. Thats what shorter harder runs do. 

27/07/2013 at 13:47

Because, Tim, it makes your body more efficient at clearing lactate by running at the point where just enough lactate is produced, that stresses your body and produces over-compensation.  If you run really hard you are going to flood the system with lactate and your body won't learn to deal with it.  Sure, running harder than that will have a training boost but to other energy systems.

27/07/2013 at 19:49

What Mcflooze says. Running harder than lactate pace might train vo2 or just be working your 10k pace, but to work lactate threshold you have to..well work at the lactate threshold and not beyond it.


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