Tempo Running

In our training schedules you’ll find references to lots of different types of running, such as tempo running, fartleks, interval training and hill repeats which may be new to you or maybe you just need a refresher about what they all mean.

In a series of articles over the coming months, club captain Simon Bentley, will provide some guidance on what each of these sessions are and provide some links to further information.  To start with this article on Competitor.com is a great introduction to different types of running sessions and has links to a range of other information about them.

In this first article we will focus on tempo running which is a fundamental of any training plan.  Tempo running is an often misunderstood running term and is often used by different runners to mean different things.  The most basic and simplest description of tempo running is it involves running comfortably hard running for a prolonged period of time or for a pre-set distance.

But what does comfortably hard actually mean?

The term comfortably hard is also difficult to explain as it will differ between runners of different abilities and runners training for different distances.  The simplest way to explain comfortably hard is based on your perceived level of effort.  For tempo running this should be between 80 – 90% of how hard you would work if you were running a race over the same distance.  Clearly this is much harder than a steady run but not so fast that you aren’t confident of being able to maintain the pace.

There are many pace calculators on the internet that try to estimate what your tempo pace should be based on a recent race you’ve done.  This one from Runners World is great.

How Far Should I Run?

This will depend on what you are training for – the longer the race you’re training for the longer the tempo run needs to be.  Typically, however, a distance between 4 – 12 miles makes for a great tempo run with the shorter tempo runs being appropriate for 5k and 10k races and the longer tempo runs for marathon training.

Personal View

I will always incorporate a tempo run into my training schedule when preparing for any race over 5k and, over the course of my schedule, will look to increase the distance and the pace as I get stronger.  Please note, however, that I would only advise increasing one oaf these at a time – either the pace or the distance, but not both – as this will help you gauge how your fitness has increased.

More Information

Try these articles and training sessions for more information and ideas on how you could incorporate tempo running into your training:

Know Your Tempo

What is a Tempo Run?

4 Types of Tempo Run