Tempo training

What is and how do you do 'Tempo' running?


  • Hi Tom,

    I've wondered about this too. In the Runners World marathon training schedule herehere it's defined as runs of 15-25 minutes at a pace 10-20 seconds slower than one's 10k race pace. I'll be interested to see what other people say, though, as I'm not sure I properly understand it.
  • The definition is correct - a tempo run is simply a fast run, close to 10k race pace. I believe it is meant to be particularly effective in increasing one's lactate threshold. I also think it is a good way of strengthening mental discipline, because it requires you to concentrate in order to maintain a constant fast pace.

    My suggestion on how to do tempo runs.

    - Find a section of road or footpath about 3 to 4 miles in length, ideally fairly flat and free of obstructions which might force you to stop, such as traffic intersections;

    - Measure the route, together with landmarks (eg, lamp-posts)at one mile intervals;

    - Work out how long it should take you to run the section, based on a recent 10k race, adding 15 seconds per mile;

    - After a good (2 to 3 mile) warm-up, run the route trying to maintain a consistent pace as close to your target pace as possible. Monitor your pace as you go by reference to the mile landmarks you identified beforehand;

    - Have a good cool-down and stretch afterwards.

    I always wear my lightweight trainers on tempo runs - almost as a reminder to myself that I am going to run fast.
  • Thanks, donutto - that's helpful. I'll try it :)
  • If you haven't done a 10k race and don't know what your pace is, the start the tempo run by slowly increasing your pace until you are breathing heavily enough to find talking difficult but not impossible. then hold that pace!
  • Or use a HR monitor, aim to run for 20 minutes at 85% - that's my tempo!
  • And run 10 minutes either side as warm up and cool down
  • Donutto. Thanks for your help, I;ll try it out.
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