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What is a Tempo Run?

 
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A tempo run teaches your body how to run at a fast pace for a long period of time. Tempo runs are usually described as “comfortably hard” runs. They are critical to helping you physically and mentally withstand long periods of fast running. A runner should start doing tempo runs when he or she has developed a base of 30 miles per week for two months. This will ensure that the runner has the necessary fitness to withstand long periods of fast running and not injure themselves. It is important to not overdo these workouts because they can cause injury if done too often.

An easy way to start a tempo run is to do a 10-minute warm-up jog, followed by no more than 20 minutes of comfortably fast running. If you know your 10K pace, this is a good starting point to know what “comfortably hard” running would be for you. After your tempo run, you should do a 10 to 15 minute jog to cool down. To progress yourself, add 15 to 20 seconds to your 10K pace every two weeks.  These should be done only once a week in the building phase of your half or full marathon training.

A tempo interval workout is a variation of the tempo run. This workout mimics the fartlek workout, but with more structure. Tempo interval workouts are broken up into two to four 10-minute hard runs. A sample of this is:

  • 10-minute warm- up jog
  • 10-minute hard run
  • 2-minute jog
  • 10-minute hard run
  • 2-minute jog,
  • 10-minute hard run
  • 10-minute cool down jog


You should be running hard at your 10K race pace. It is difficult to train yourself to run hard the whole race, but tempo intervals train your body to respond to mid-race surges.

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