When runners start thinking about competing in races, finding the right training plan is often the first thing to be done. If you haven’t raced before, it can be daunting to read about hill sprints and tempo runs if you’ve never done them before. Tempo runs are useful for increasing your overall speed. They are deliberately short and will tax you without exhausting you.
The best way to determine a tempo running pace (also sometimes called a lactate-threshold pace) has been discussed for a very long time. It’s been described as pushing yourself to run at a challenging pace for up to 30 minutes, to run as fast as you can for an hour, or a run that keeps you at a stable, maxed out heart rate.
The truth is that a tempo run is a hybrid of all of those suggestions. Scientific testing shows that the most effective way to conduct a tempo run is this: Monitor your heart rate during a 30-minute run. The first 10 minutes of running will see your heart rate climb and then level off at your lactate-threshold (your tempo). Look for the average heart rate over the last 20 minutes of the run. This will give you a figure to work on.
Warm up for 10 minutes. Choose the running pace you could maintain over an hour and run at that speed for 20 minutes. Cool down properly. If you do this regularly, you should be able to increase the length of time you can run at the faster pace.
Tempo training challenge
If you’re getting comfortable with the tempo running pace over longer distances, it might be time to change your training. Warm up for 10 minutes. Run at tempo speed for 15 minutes. The next 15 minutes should be 1-minute splits, alternating between sprints and tempo pace. Make sure to cool down adequately after this session. If that’s too much, alternate the hard running splits with a slower-than-tempo pace.
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