Running has a lot of different terms and techniques that can be overwhelming. Tempo runs are one of the most critical styles of any training program. They can teach your body to do a lot; like push through almost any race and build up strength like you're lifting in the gym. Hooked yet? Want to learn how to tempo run, now? Read on to start incorporating it into your weekly workouts.
What is a Tempo Run?
Nothing quite describes it like "comfortably hard". That might deter you from wanting to run one, but if you're looking to improve your running you must add tempo runs to your workouts. A tempo run is a faster-paced workout that is about 25 to 30 seconds slower than your 5k race pace. During a tempo run, versus a race pace, the level of effort is a step below the threshold during a race. This basically means your body is burning carbohydrates equally as much as it produces. Whether you're training for a specific race or want to improve your metabolic fitness, tempo runs will be your friend.
What are the Benefits of Tempo Runs?
Have you ever experienced fatigue during a long week of running? If so, it's most likely because you're training is too repetitive. Tempo runs help develop your lactate threshold, which is the point at which lactic acid begins to accumulate muscle. If your running style is too consistent than your muscles become sore and fatigued. To increase your LT, tempo runs are the way to reduce accumulation of lactic acid and run faster without suffering from muscle fatigue.
They also help mental strength, too. Pushing through a tough training session helps you experience what you'll go through when you compete. It's a matter of adapting your body to the new style of training, both physically and mentally. Training at these speeds of all-out effort will certainly strengthen you in more ways than one.
How to Do a Tempo Run
To start running tempos, begin the first 5 to 10 minutes with a warm-up. Without stopping, make the next 15 to 20 minutes at 10 seconds slower than 10k pace. If you're unsure what your pacing is, use breathing as your guide. For an easy-pace, most runners take 3-foot strides while breathing in and 2-foot strides while breathing out. For tempo speed, your inhale should be 2 footstrikes and one for exhale. For 5k race pace calculating, let's say your easy run pace is a 7:53 min/mile, then your tempo pace would be 6:33 min/mile.
Another tempo example is the latter method. For example, 4 x 1 mile at tempo pace with 2 minutes recovery jogging between efforts.
Keep in mind, training or not, you should do tempo runs once a week, no more. Excessive, intense training can damage and fatigue your muscles just as much as an easy run.