RUN: Tempo Runs

RUN series_tempo runs

Posted by Lauren

RUN series_tempo runs

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I subscribe to’s email blasts and recently they had an article about tempo runs. While I love a good long 8 – 10 mile run, sometimes all you have time for is 4 – 8 miles. (Or if you’re like me Mon – Fri you just have time for 2 miles. Boo.)¬† explains that tempo runs “teach your body to more quickly clear out the lactate buildup delaying or preventing that fatigue-causing burn.” When you’re half way through your run and you feel “the burn” – that’s lactate buildup.

Tempo runs increase your lactate threshold (read: tolerance). From what I understand, when you add in a tempo run or two per week, the amount of capillaries (blood vessels) in your muscles increases, which escalates the body’s ability to take in oxygen

The article outlines four types of tempo runs:

1. Traditional Tempo has you run every mile at your tempo pace except for the first and last – those should be warm-up/cool-down mile paces aka you could carry a conversation easily.

2. Tempo Intervals also are flanked by warm-up/cool-down miles at the beginning and end. The miles in the middle alternate between fast and medium pace in a timed manner. After your 1 mile warm-up, do 5 minutes at the fast pace, then 5 at medium, 5 fast, 5 medium, etc, then end with your 1 mile cool-down.


tempo runs pay off big time during races

3. The third style of a tempo run, Race-Pace Tempo, is good for half-marathon and marathon runners. You would run the 1 mile warm-up and then run all subsequent miles at your desired race pace. The last mile should be a cool-down pace. I think this would be hard, because usually the only way I can run my race pace for a significant number of miles is when I’m actually doing the race. I am motivated to run my pace when there are other people right there with me.

4. And the final tempo run suggests is called the Negative Split Tempo. While running, the split shows your pace halfway through. To get a negative split, you have to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. Run your warm-up mile and then do the first half of the remaining miles at your medium pace. Run your fast pace for the last half of the miles on your route. Make sure to save one mile for the cool-down pace.

A couple years back my friend Sean ran the San Jose Rock n’ Roll. I looked at his times and his split was quite negative. I was starting to run more actively and his time surprised me – how could someone physically do the last 6.5 miles faster than the first 6.5 miles?!! Well now that I’ve been doing some HIIT, I realize that if you practice with tempo runs, a negative split isn’t so hard after all.

My favorite of the four would probably be the second type, Tempo Intervals. Try incorporating 1 tempo run a week into your training and I guarantee you’ll see results on your mile time. A year and a half ago I started doing sprint workouts at the track near work and that made my time drastically faster.


Question: What would you do in the candy bar/intimidating fitness instructor scenario? Sacrifice a little dignity for a good workout?

Also, let me know if you try a tempo run or if you have any other suggestions related to them!

Comments (3)

  1. Pingback: How To Pass Time at the Gym | Sugar Coated Sisters

  2. Pingback: Fort Ord Tempo Run | Sugar Coated Sisters

  3. Pingback: Get Physical: Update + Extended Run Tips | Sugar Coated Sisters

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