Tempo Runs

Tempo Runs for Speed Training

We are wrapping up the first official week of training for Whitefish High School XC, and for the workout this week we spent some time with our athletes discussing tempo workouts, what they are, and why they are beneficial for your running.

A tempo is a form of speed training that helps to build the body’s ability to maintain a faster pace over greater distances/times. If you want to get into the specific science of it, most tempos are run at or close to a runner’s lactate threshold or the point at which your body is no longer efficiently clearing lactate from your blood with the goal of increasing that threshold.

So if these types of workouts are so great for improving speed, why doesn’t everyone do them?

  1. Because they are HARD. It is so much more challenging than just going out for your usual run to try to do a structured, planned speed session.
  2. Because most of us don’t know where to start. You are not alone if you feel like you have no idea how to approach this!

I like to think of tempos as getting myself comfortable with being uncomfortable. The reality of distance running is that if you are pushing the pace you are going to be uncomfortable at some point in the run – and if you want to get faster, you have to practice not only running faster, but being mentally prepared for when things get tough. Tempos give you that wow-this-kinda-sucks feeling and are $$$ in the mental toughness bank, when done correctly.

Tempos can look very different for each person and need to be modified based on your experience level, distance, goals, and many other factors. Remember that the goal of the tempo is that you can maintain consistent effort throughout the whole interval, and that if you are doing multiple reps they are paced appropriately so that the first and last are roughly the same – learning to run smart and gauge what you have in the tank, which is essential for successful racing!

Have more questions or need help making tempos part of your training? I can help.