Let’s face it, most of us will hit a speed plateau sometime during our running career. Some of us may be comfortable at that plateau and enjoy the view from there. But if you are one of those people who are always looking to make improvements in your life, you know that challenging yourself constantly can help you achieve your goals.
Running fits that line of reasoning very well. If you want to get faster, to make it simple you have to run faster. One workout to achieve that goal is a Tempo Run.
What are Tempo Runs?
Tempo runs are fast, continuous workouts where you measure the time and the distance of your run. You try to maintain the same pace for the entire run.
This workout should only be done once a week because of the stress it puts on your body. While you can use this workout for a swim, bike, or run, I am going to focus on how to use this workout as part of your running program.
Benefits of Tempo Runs
The purpose of the tempo run is to train your body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently. You want to get used to running “comfortably hard”, and knowing what it feels like to push your body hard. When you incorporate this workout into the schedule, your race times will drop.
How To Do Tempo Runs
Look for a day that you have six to eight miles scheduled. Use the first two miles of your run to warm-up. You should run comfortably at the beginning and gradually build up to the pace you want to hold for the tempo run. Obviously, a Garmin or some other GPS based device is really helpful here. You could also complete this workout at the track so you can keep better track of your pace.
Spend the next 3 to 4 miles at your tempo pace. Your tempo pace should be anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds quicker than your 5K pace. I know it sounds fast and it is. What you are trying to do is teach your body to be more efficient. You are also trying to teach your legs to have a quicker turnover. You will be pushing really hard during this portion of the run. On the pain scale of 1-10, you should be at an 8 at this point. If you need to slow down at some point, take it easy for a minute or so and then speed up back to your targeted tempo pace.
It is important for you to cool down as part of this workout. This workout needs to be done with a ton of caution because there is a real chance of injury. So make sure you take at least 1 to 2 miles to cool down. Gradually slow back down to where you are at your marathon pace and just relax. Make sure you stretch after as part of the workout. Here are the phases of this workout:
1. 1-2 mile warm-up starting at marathon pace gradually speeding up to your tempo pace.
2. 3-4 miles at 5K pace minus 15 to 30 seconds. Slow down a little if you need to.
3. Cool down for 1 to 2 miles, gradually slowing down to your marathon pace.
4. Stretch and make sure you breathe into your muscles as you stretch.
Using the Tempo Run will help you make the improvements that you seek as part of your progression as a runner. Keep this type of workout in your schedule and you will feel more comfortable at all paces because of significant improvements in your running and heart efficiency.
Article courtesy of http://26.2ismycooldown.com/