Tempo run pace

Hi everyone 

Sorry if this has been discussed a lot before, but searching the forum didn't show anything about my specific query. 

I've got myself a bit puzzled and confused about what speed I should be doing my tempo runs at. Generally, most things I read say it should be around the pace I can manage for an hour, and that they should mostly be about 20 minute efforts. Some people/websites suggest extending the duration, others say not to go any longer.

My issue with that is that 20 minutes at my 1 hour pace seems fairly easy. I thought tempo runs were meant to be moderately hard, or am I missing something.

I've tried the Mcmillan calculator too, with one of my current targets of a sub 1:30 half marathon. If I put in my current half pb (1:36:42), it says my tempo pace should be 6:58-7:15. If I put in my 5k pb (19:57) it says 6:40-6:57. Not a huge difference I admit, but the difference gets bigger if I use different race distance pbs.

I suppose its two questions really - how long and how fast should they be?

Or am I being too fussy and pedantic and just run somewhere between 6:40 and 7:15  and I'll be fine? Is perceived exertion a better way of judging? I don't tend to use hr for training zones, but I know others do

Thanks for any comments or thoughts


  • I use different pace for different distances.For example if my long run pace is about 8:30min miles,my paces would be something like 
    2-4 mile @7:00 min miles.
    4-6m 7:15 min miles 
    6m+ 7:30 min miles 
    I always do a mile warm up and cool down.
  • chamolkchamolk ✭✭✭
    Thanks Jokey

    Yeah, I'd always do warm up and cool down, but hadn't thought about doing longer tempos at a sightly slower speed - might try that out. Good idea, thanks
  • Sol2Sol2 ✭✭✭
    It depends on what you're training for. For shorter distances, the Daniel's 20-minute tempo at between 10k and HM pace works well. If you find 20 minutes too easy, run longer at that pace - never faster, or you lose the effects of the workout. For longer distances, such as HM and especially marathon, you need to run longer. For HM, run at HM pace for 6-8 miles. For the marathon, run at marathon pace for 9 building up to 12 miles. In fact 10 miles of MP running is highly beneficial for all training purposes. But very hard! Stick with it till gets easier then your marathon goals need revising! 
  • chamolkchamolk ✭✭✭
    Thanks Sol

    That's 2 votes for slowing the pace for longer tempo runs. I'd seen that mentioned before as well that going too fast loses the benefit of this type of work out.

    I wonder if you wouldn't also lose the benefit by going too slow though. I did a fair amount of MP runs for a recent marathon, but I thought that was meant to be aerobic training rather than lactate threshold.

    I wonder if a lot of these zones are quoted without really knowing much for certain, and just training at different speeds covers most bases
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