Tempo Run question

Hi, I've been struggling with my midweek tempo runs recently.

Obviously, I'd like to complete them as required if I can, but if I'm struggling and something has to give, is it better to reduce the pace or distance?

For example, if I'm meant to do 5mi @ 8:57/mi and I'm struggling after 3 miles, should I reduce pace to finish the 5 miles at whatever I can do or should I do as much as I can at 8:57/mi and then warm down and stop?

Endurance at slower paces isn't too much of a problem; I'm up to 10 miles on my long runs now.

Thanks for any advice.


  • Steve- why do you say you're meant to do it @8:57?  Where does this figure come from?  Is it from a training plan?  I usually try to work with a range of paces.  If you use something like mcmillan and put in your latest race time it will give you a range of paces for steady runs/ tempo/ recovery runs etc.  My tempo range is :7:33-7:53.  This means that on a good day I will sometimes hit the fast end and on a bad day (or when I do a longer run) my pace will be closer to 7:53.  That's one way of doing it.
  • Steve, I'm not surprised you are finding it tough. For someone of your ability I would suggest 2-3 miles at threshold more appropriate for a weekly session.

    To answer your question, you should reduce the distance rather than the pace. The reason is that reducing the pace would result in you training an energy system different to that which is (probably) intended by the session.

    I'm assuming here that we mean the same thing by "tempo". Are you following a schedule?

  • Thanks both for your answers. I'm following a schedule from RW SmartCoach to get me to the 10-mile Great South Run. I think I used my 10K PB (at the time - it's improved since) to base it on.

    I was fine with the tempo runs (found them tough but doable, which I understand to be the point of them) when the tempo part was 3-4 miles. But I have been struggling lately as I said. I do allow myself a 'zone' either side of the target and I'm not so much of a slave to the schedule that I won't adapt it; I just wasn't sure which way to adapt it in the case of tempo runs. If I struggle today (I'm just off out now), I'll cut the distance short. I know I can do 3 miles at that pace as my 5K PB is under 25 minutes.

    I will have a look at McMillan; thanks for the tip.

    Wish me luck. Thanks again.
  • You're right that they should be fairly tough, but you definitely shouldn't be killing yourself to finish them. I'm surprised that any schedule would prescribe close to 45 continuous minutes on a weekly basis. That's getting very close to race pace.

    Good luck with your race.

  • If it's SmartCoach, I'm not surprised.  This is one of the reason I dropped it.  I had me do 6-7 mile tempo runs at just below my 10k paceimage.  I think it's a bit optimistic. 

    Like Simon said- as long as you're sure that you're within the correct range for a tempo run for your ability, try to extend the distance for as long as you can, while keeping the pace.  Don't overdo it though... 3-4 miles at this stage is plenty.  Good luck.

  • The funny thing was I actually managed it last night; 5 miles in 8:51/mi with a mile each end for warmup/cool. It definitely helped having your advice before I left though, as I knew what to do if I struggled and that it wasn't going to be a wasted run.

    I guess it was just a good run. image

    I'll keep this advice in mind and will definitely listen to my body on these runs and won't push it too far/hard.

    Once I've finished this particular training schedule, I'll also reconsider using SmartCoach for the next one, as I've read a few not-so-good reviews of it. Next step-up for me after the Great South is my first Half in March, so I may go to one of Hal Higdon's programmes for that.

    Thanks again for the advice.
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