Interval or Tempo pace?

Hello, I have a query about the pace you run whether you are tempo running or interval running. Am I right in thinking that tempo running is just outside your comfort zone and interval running is into the red and just lingering below full capacity?


  • Hi,

    if you are a new runner i would suggest 60%-70% of your max heart rate. You can work it out by doing the following equation

    Max heart rate equation

    220 - 27 (your age)= 193 Max heart rate

    70% of 193 = 135 beats per min

    By staying the the training zone you are enabling you body to be able to sustain and build endurance. If you are new try stopping and starting if you exceed 70% of your max hear rate.

    Hope this helps 



  • Tempo and interval running are both run anearobically, therefore both need to be above 80% with intervals being shorter but the faster of the two

  • 70% is far too easy an effort for a tempo run.

    80%-88% Tempo run

    88%-95% Intervals

    Means very little if you don't have a HR monitor. As a rough guide, tempo run at 15secs per mile slower than your 5k race pace. 'Comfortbably hard' is a term used to describe the feeling.

    Depending on the session, my intervals are usually ran slightly quicker than my notional 5k pace for longer reps or 3k pace for shorter reps.

  • I'd say around 90% for a fast tempo run, about 95 up to 100% for intervals.

    The idea of running at any decent pace and keeping it at 70% is just a non starter. My slow runs tend to be around 80% average by the end. And I am in pretty decent shape - VO2 high 40's, 10k under 45 mins, aged 45.

  • 5k pace + 30secs per mile - simplest formula.

  • DT19DT19 ✭✭✭

    What ship star said. My tempo is more like 10k pace plus 10 seconds, or half Mara pace less 5 seconds.

    Intervals depends on their point. One mile reps might be done at 10k pace, 800m perhaps at 3k pace.

    Have a look at McMillan for training paces.

    The percentage business is only any use if you have a real idea of Max Hr. By perceived effort threshold is about 80-85% and intervals up to 95% effort. 

  • That's great, thank you all for your help. I was pretty sure that was the right way but a lot of conflicting statements online! Think I could master thatimage
  • I think the % heart rate is misleading. Its probably more like base active heart rate + a % of the way to max.

  • Interval speed is a bit faster then 5K speed.

    Tempo (threshold/lactate turn-point) speed a bit slower then 10k speed.

  • Nose NowtNose Nowt ✭✭✭

    There isn't really a specific speed/heart rate for "intervals"?  As DT19 says, it depends on their purpose, and if they are 1 mile intervals, or if they are 100m intervals etc. 

    There is often a reason to do your tempo run as intervals!

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    There does seem to be a lot of overly-specific defining of terms going on here.  I would generally run intervals at a faster pace than my tempo runs, but I'd not go any further than the following definitions:

    Interval pace: related to specific race-pace; you run a number of reps with intervals of rest in between, in order to allow a greater overall volume of training at a target pace.  Typical pace range:  800m/1500m to 5k/10k

    Tempo pace: Admittedly, people often use "tempo" and "threshold" interchangeably, but I prefer to use the word tempo to refer to any continuous run at a sustained pace.  This could be your classic threshold pace (about 10 mile race pace depending on your speed), or something sub-threshold, which you will be able to hold for longer (useful for HM and marathon training).  Or it could be a little quicker, e.g. you might do a progressive tempo run, starting at HM pace and increasing to 10k pace.  Good for practising a strong finish.

    Re: HR... IMO you can forget about HR for interval training, as it takes too long to get up to maximum and you won't get there for a few reps.  Perceived effort is the way to go, or if you're running round a track, set some provisional pace targets based on your race times.  (See MacMillan, as recommended above.)  If you're used to HR for training/racing, you can use it for tempo training (e.g. compare against HR you see in a 10k or HM race...) but I'd be cautious about generalising about actual % figures because (a) people are different and (b) people generally don't know what their max HR is anyway!

  • Tim R2-T2Tim R2-T2 ✭✭✭
    Tempo/threshold is the pace you can hold for an hour.

    Intervals should be done just hard enough that you can finish the session and then do a couple of miles warm down. If you can't complete the session you're doing them too hard. If you complete it easily you're going to soft.
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