Tuesday, December 11, 2007


The tempo run is a workout that can be conducted at any time of the year. Although it is mostly used in training for the longer distances, 10k and up, it can be equally effective for high school cross country 5k and track distances.

The purpose of a tempo run is to build aerobic efficiency. This is the ability to use the fuel in your body in the most efficient way possible so that it lasts as long as possible at the pace you want to run. In order to achieve this, you must run at a pace that is the fastest you can go with your muscles using only aerobic energy for fuel. The simplest way to determine this pace is to think of it as the fastest pace you can evenly sustain for one hour of running. It should feel comfortably hard. This pace can be anywhere from 30 - 60 seconds slower than your current 5k race pace. Tempo runs are a great way build the strength, stamina and endurance you will need to handle the tough speed sessions and races in your upcoming season.

The time of the tempo run can vary from 15 minutes to 40 minutes. For races 5k or below, 15 to 20 minutes of tempo running is a good workout. It will allow you to focus more on running your races much harder because the distance of the event will not be an issue. For example, if you are a miler who has put in several 20 minute tempo runs during the season, a 4-6 minute race is going to feel like nothing. You will begin to notice that you can push harder during the race as well as recover much quicker after the race (which is a benefit if you run more than one event).

The workout:

10 - 15 minute warm-up
15 - 20 minute Tempo Run
10 - 15 minute warm-down

It is important to remember that tempo runs are continuous, you never stop moving. Once your warm-up is over, you get right into the tempo run without stopping. When the tempo run is over, you keep running your warm-down.

As mentioned before, you are to run at a pace that keeps you in an aerobic state. Do not push the pace and start running at race pace, this will defeat the purpose of the workout. With this in mind, the total distance of the workout is not important. It doesn't matter if you covered 4 miles or 6 miles during the tempo run. It is the EFFORT that is important.

No comments: