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Wanna Improve Your Run Speed for Your Next Race? Tempo Runs Baby...

Posted Sep 08 2010 12:00am
Last week I put up an epic post that was written by my buddy Sean at " Into Clean Air " -- one of my favorite blogs -- about incorporating Running Ladders into your workout schedule in the month before your last 10K or 1/2 marathon of the season. The obvious reason to incorporate that type of workout into your schedule is to improve your speed and efficiency.

Another workout that works very well is a Tempo Workout. 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.

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.

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.

What is your favorite type of running workout? How has tempo or ladder workouts helped you improve your race times?

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