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What is a tempo run? (Read 2833 times)


Not Your Average Joe

    Can someone explain it to me in simple terms that a newbie who knows nothing about running or athletics might understand?

    Hi!

      A tempo run is a sustained effort that's faster than easy.  One strict definition of a tempo run is 20 minutes at "threshold pace" which is roughly equal to your 1-hour race pace, but a lot of people (myself included) will call sustained efforts of 40-60 minutes at anything up to marathon pace a tempo run.  It takes some practice to get the pacing right so that you don't start out too fast and wind up in a race effort.

       

      The effort is sometimes described as "comfortably hard" which I'm not sure is how I'd describe it.

       

      You should finish a temp run feeling invigorated, not wasted.  If you're arms and legs are burning and you're sucking wind and holding your shorts at the end, it was too hard--not a tempo run.

       

      Here is a decent article that describes tempo runs, but  just know this is a topic that gets a ton of discussion and there is not really a universal agreement on what a tempo run is, exactly, even among the most seasoned veterans.

       

      It's worth getting good at them because tempo runs will generally give you the most bang for your training buck, outside of just plain running more.

      Runners run.

      indiana


        A tempo run is nothing more than about 20 minutes of steady running at threshold pace. For most people, "threshold pace" is about 25 second slower than your 5K race pace.


        Fat butt on couch

          It's pretty much been nailed.  If I were to be nitpicky I'd say 20-35min is the right range for a tempo run, though like Mikey I often call things up to 10 miles (under an hour for me) tempo runs even though they are really doing something different than a 20min one at a much faster pace.

           

          The trick is not to run them too hard.  Most people run them too hard.

          "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

           


          day after day sameness

            Not that it adds anything to what Mike and Spaniel have said...but I'll share one thing that took me a while to figure out. Tempo (like easy, hard, medium or whatever) is an effort and not a target pace.  For me, tempo pace can move around by 10 - 20 seconds/mile from week to week depending things.

             

            My recipe for tempo is to take "race" for the same distance and back off to move from "hurt" to "work".

            I've done my best to live the right way; I get up every morning and go to work each day...

              Pfitz and Douglas say 15k to HM  race pace for tempo runs, IIRC.


              Not Your Average Joe

                Appreciate all the answers so far. Up until a few days ago each of my runs was a tempo run according to this definition.  I figured I had better slow myself down before I hurt myself, but I still have to have speed in the equation somewhere.  I'll probably make one day a tempo run and one day an interval training run, but take the rest of the days easier.

                Hi!

                  To be less technical, tempo pace is slightly slower than race pace.  It is at a pace that if I am having a conversation with someone, I can utter a few words at a time instead of full sentences because I'm breathing too hard.

                  Shoe


                    Not that it adds anything to what Mike and Spaniel have said...but I'll share one thing that took me a while to figure out. Tempo (like easy, hard, medium or whatever) is an effort and not a target pace.  For me, tempo pace can move around by 10 - 20 seconds/mile from week to week depending things.

                     

                    My recipe for tempo is to take "race" for the same distance and back off to move from "hurt" to "work".

                     

                    It is an effort, but I do find value in having an idea of the pace so it doesn't just become a race in disguise. Especially for newer runners who might not know what various race paces feel like so acutely.

                     

                    It is important to know that going harder than tempo effort on your tempo runs, racing them, does NOT increase the benefit you get from them.  It just increases the stress on your body.

                     

                    I usually go with Daniels definition, of 20 minutes at T pace with 20 min easy warmup and 20 min easy cooldown where T pace is hour race pace, though he does give slower paces as the duration goes on, culminating I believe in marathon pace for run beyond an hour.  (If you google Daniels VDOT, you'll know what pace he gives based on race results.


                    Race Less Train More

                      Appreciate all the answers so far. Up until a few days ago each of my runs was a tempo run according to this definition.  I figured I had better slow myself down before I hurt myself, but I still have to have speed in the equation somewhere.  I'll probably make one day a tempo run and one day an interval training run, but take the rest of the days easier.

                       

                      Just a suggestion. Forget the speed work and built mileage to 100 miles a month. HM 2:16: x x

                      Run until the trail runs out.

                      2013***1500 miles

                      50 miler

                       

                       

                      unsolicited chatter

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                      Not Your Average Joe

                        Just a suggestion. Forget the speed work and built mileage to 100 miles a month. HM 2:16: x x

                         

                        My plan is to run 110 miles a month for the rest of the year.  Most of it slow and steady.  It's hard to hold myself back though.

                        Hi!


                        Stranger than you know

                          My plan is to run 110 miles a month for the rest of the year.  Most of it slow and steady.  It's hard to hold myself back though.

                           

                          Running easy runs easy is just another skill ... a skill you will learn quickly. At first it feels a bit strange (at least for me), but after a few genuine easy runs you get used to it. Having more 'gears' is always useful.

                           

                          Most beginner runners tend to run faster than necessary or beneficial for what they try to do. I certainly did. Running with a slower friend and in a running group taught me to slow down.

                          zonykel


                            Here's an article from Running Times Magazine, "What exactly is a tempo run?"

                            http://runningtimes.com/Print.aspx?articleID=5615

                            JaredShorten


                              race distance being trained for is something to be considered here, because training for a 10k or half marathon I've done hour long tempo sessions. But let's assume this is for 5k-8k. A tempo run is where, for a set amount of time, you pickup your pace mid-run. Training for the previously mentioned distances I would say 20-30 minutes long. During your racing season at the height of your shape I would say that it should be run at 25-35 seconds slower than your 5k pace. But pre season they should be done slower at around 50-60 seconds slower than race pace. I should also note that this is one, solitary, pickup, not spaced out sessions. The workout is then considered a fartlek workout, or an interval workout if there is significant rest being done.

                              BTY


                                Up until a few days ago each of my runs was a tempo run according to this definition.  I figured I had better slow myself down before I hurt myself, but I still have to have speed in the equation somewhere.  I'll probably make one day a tempo run and one day an interval training run, but take the rest of the days easier.

                                 

                                I think you gave yourself the best advice of all.  Take a few days of running easy, and then when you run a harder effort again, you'll enjoy the workout more than you ever thought possible, I can just about guarantee it.  Most of us have been through that transition over the course of our running histories, and many will testify that running actually became fun when we added more variety to our paces.   There are very few people who can continue to run at that too-fast pace all the time, beyond a few weeks or months at a time.  I hope you find it more enjoyable now as well, and gain great improvements in the process. 

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