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# Tempo runs - longer and slower?

...if you know what I mean.

Anyway, having completed my latest Half Marathon, I'm setting my sights anew, and learning from the mistakes I made in training last time around and resolving to try some new training methods. One of the things I'm keen to do is longer tempo runs.

Now, I'm aware of the principle is that longer tempo runs = slower pace. I was planning on trying hour long tempo runs once a week (or at least 45 mins or so) and my question is by how much do I need to slow?

I was reckoning that for 45 minutes or so Half Marathon pace (currently about 7:00/mile) might do the trick, however I'm unsure as to if this would be too fast or not. Moreso, I'm unsure as to whether longer tempo runs will be more beneficial or not.

Input from the forums would be appreciated. Should I try longer tempo runs? If so, how much slower/what pace?

• Before the rest of the forum wade in, this link to another forum helped me out no end understanding length and pace of tempo runs (the "tinman" parts). All you need to do is predict your 5km time if you have't done a recent race. "mcmillan running calculator" can be useful for this.

this was the bit I found most useful from it:

The mathematical correlates I used to derive the lactic acid levels (measured in mmols) I wrote about were as follows:

5k pace divided by .93 = Lactate Threshold (4 mmol)
5k pace divided by .90 = 3 mmol (half marathon pace, app.)
5k pace divided by .87 = 2.5 mmol (marathon race pace)
5k pace divided by .75 = 1 mmol (aerobic maintenance pace)

hope this helps.

From my own experience, which isn't massive I admit, I felt much stronger after running a few long tempo (45-55mins) during the winter. Made the transition to faster work much easier to tollerate. For a half mara I think they're essential.

• sorry, and then you typically run a longer tempo run (45-70mins) at mara pace, medium tempo (35-45mins) at half mara and short tempo (20-30mins) at LT.
• Totally agree with increasing length of your tempo but not with dropping the pace, that just doesn't sound right to me. Surly dropping the pace is changing the " session " as in..... it would no longer fall into the tempo category therefore essentially you'd be doing a bunch of steady (or equivilent wording,lol) runs???

• I'm with ALD on this one - it seems like marathon pace will accumulate Lactic Acid in the same way a normal threshold run will do, but at a slower pace. Seeing as I'm focusing on longer distance events it might be something to try out.
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Have you a copy of Daniels Running Formula in there he writes about longer tempo runs but beyond the typical 20 minutes the pace will drop otherwise i'm sure if you keep to the same pace it will be like a race and you'll need more recovery time

longer tempo runs but at a slower pace

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Rob Seaton wrote (see)

Totally agree with increasing length of your tempo but not with dropping the pace, that just doesn't sound right to me. Surly dropping the pace is changing the " session " as in..... it would no longer fall into the tempo category therefore essentially you'd be doing a bunch of steady (or equivilent wording,lol) runs???

Rob, you're using the very narrow definition of a tempo run as being a lactate threshold tempo run.  There are obvious limits to the distance you can run at this intensity (although a progressive plan may well involve increasing steadily from, say, 20 mins to 30 mins @ 10M pace) but 40 mins @ HMP or 60 mins @ MP are still tempo runs, with the tempo being that much slower.  As far as terminology goes, any easier than this and you're into the category of 'steady' running I guess.

I definitely think longer tempo runs have a place in HM/Mara training plans and I also think they're useful in base training, i.e. they'd fit in at the more intense range of your Lydiard style aerobic running.  You're running slightly sub-threshold so not building up too much lactic, but still provding a stimulus to increase threshold, and obviously get the body used to running at race pace (for the longer distances).

• Going by what I felt in my last HM, I felt a steady increase in Lactic Acid after about 45 minutes or so.

So Phil, basically what you're saying is that sub-threshold paces provide the same benefits, but slower, which is why you have to do them for longer?
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Sort of.  To my mind providing a stimulus to threshold is just one benefit of tempo running, but you're gonna get different benefits depending on intensity/duration.  Obviously the shorter tempo run is closer to your shorter race distances so, for example, you might do 20 mins @ between 10k and 10M speed (or 3 x 2M tempo intervals) to make your 10k speed feel more comfortable, whereas the longer sessions do more to develop speed endurance for HM/marathon.  I guess ALD's link would have more scientific detail about the relationship between intensity and duration so I'll have a read when I feel like getting my head round it!

From a practical point of view I think it helps to think of overall effort as being the common factor in the session, i.e. whether I'm running 'fairly hard' for 25 minutes or for 45, I want to feel pleasantly beasted, without feeling like I've just run a race.  So clearly different speeds will be involved.

• Ah, I'm with you now. I'm aiming for a sub-40 10k mid May, so you think it might be a good idea to stick to the shorter stuff for now, with perhaps a longer session every few weeks?

After the 10k I've got the whole summer until my next big race (sub-1:30 half in September and the Scottish Kilomaton in October) so I could start the longer runs then.
• Phil, yep your right. I like to stick to narrow definitions otherwise i end up with low-easy, mid-easy, high- easy, low-tempo, mid-tempo, high-tempo.......and so on. I'm guilty of pretty much sticking to the progessive plan aswell. Agree with what your saying though, it makes sense. I guess the tempo duration and speed should ultimatly be catered to the goal distance?