Technical Tip- Tempo Running- What Is It? How Do I Do It?
By Ambassador & Adv. Run Coach Lydia Palmieri
One of the most important aspects of my training is what is known as tempo running. The idea is to run at a pace for an extended period of time that is quicker than your normal running speed, but not so quick that it is your race pace. These are great when training for a marathon, but they also have a place in training programs for the shorter distances such as the 5 km.
The idea behind tempo running is to is to improve your lactic threshold, the point at which your body starts producing lactic acid that is too much for you to maintain the current pace. The distance that you tempo at is dependant on what your race distance is.
If you are running at a pace that is your lactic threshold it will mean you will get very good and more efficient at that pace, it will also mean that after a while the pace that you need to run to be at your LT pace will be faster. Training this system will improve your lactic tolerance and therefore allow you to run quicker in races. The difficulty you will find is knowing exactly what pace to run at if you have never done a tempo before.
Your tempo pace should be about 75 per cent of your race pace.
There are certain watches that you can buy that have programs on them that will give you a short fitness test and this is another way to get your LT pace. Your tempo pace should be about 75 per cent of your race pace.
How to monitor your tempo run
I would recommend getting a GPS watch for when you are doing your tempos. This will allow you to know exactly how far and most importantly how fast you are running. Tempo runs can be for a period of time, such as 30 minutes, or a set distance like 12km. Some days your tempo runs will feel so easy that you’ll find yourself running faster than you should be doing. It is important that you run at the pace and duration agreed before you start. You should always be able to hold a short conversation while you are running during a tempo, again if you are unable to do this then maybe you are running quicker than tempo pace.
Tempo runs are just one part of a training program, combine these with a faster ‘speed’ session and also some steady runs around the sessions and you’ll soon see improvements in your races.