When I first started running, I didn’t know any of the correct lingo. I didn’t know what a speed workout was, or a tempo run, or fartlek training. My plan would say run 3 miles, so I ran 3 miles at whatever pace I could manage that day.
After finishing my first marathon in 4.54.59, I knew I wanted to try to start running faster.
I had no idea where to begin, so followed Skinny Runner’s advice, that to run faster, you have to train faster, read a lot of Runners World about speed work and tempo runs and started including them into my own workouts.
A tempo run, also known as a threshold run, is a faster paced session done at a ‘challenging but manageable pace’, about an 8 out of 10 on the effort scale. They work to improve your pace by improving your metabolic fitness. Tempo runs ‘teach the body to use the ocygren for metabolism more efficiently’
A typical tempo run should begin with a warm up, followed by ‘comfortably hard effort for 2-3 miles’, with a cool down afterwards. ‘You know your working, but you’re not racing’. The longer run you’re training for, the longer your tempo runs should be.
It’s best to do these outside at either perceived effort, or at your target pace which should be about 30-40 seconds slower than your 5K race pace, and 20 seconds slower than your 10K race pace.
- Make each mile 15 seconds quicker than the previous, for runs from 3-7 miles
- Run a warm up mile, run middle miles at a quicker pace, run a cool down mile
- Warm up, 5 X 5 mins fast with 2 min recovery jogs between, cool down
- After a warm up, run 5 X 3 mins at 10K pace, with 60 second recovery jogs between
- Run easy for 10 mins, gradually increase your pace over the next 20 minutes, finish with 10 mins easy
- Warm up, 2 X 10 mins fast with 3 min recovery jog between, cool down
You might also find this Runner’s World article helpful – The Perfect Tempo Run.