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Running Question: How To Master Tempo Runs?

Posted Oct 17 2008 9:14pm

As Amy and I like to ask here at the Runners' Lounge, "Whatconsistently, predictably works for running?  Well, I’m about to start including Tempo Runs into my training for theChicago Marathon and today I'm wondering WCPW about tempo runs?

Tempo runs have been a part of my training for years, but I’m not sure I’m getting the most from them. In the past, my TRs were quality running workouts and an accurate indicator of my conditioning progress.  Coaching_at_track_3 I’d run them with confidence, and always feel like I had a little untapped speed and endurance left over.  But the last few years they’ve been more of a struggle to complete, and I've actually ran fewer in preparation for peaking for the marathon.

The definition of a tempo run is not universal.  A google search surfaces an article from Running Times from 1999 as definitive.  I’d always understood they were to increase our bodies' Lactate Threshold,   In fact, most runners use the two terms interchangeably. Gazelle Safari Training actually says tempo runs and lactate threshold runs are two different training workouts.  I need to better understand that.

Another issue is the pace of tempo runs vary from expert to expert, ranging from marathon pace, to slightly slower than 10k pace, to how fast you could run for an hour.  Maybe that’s the same, but I’d like to be able to nail my right training pace better.

Then there’s the matter of execution of tempo runsHal Higdon recommends gradually increasing the pace until running near 10k pace for 3 – 6 minutes, yet others recommend sustaining the TR pace longer.  I’m also intrigued by the FIRST marathon training expert's pace recommendations.

Finally, I’m wondering about how frequently to do tempo runs?  Weekly seems too much, at least for me and every other week doesn’t seem enough.  I’m toying with the idea of every ten days or running some miles at tempo pace on shorter run weekend followed by some slow long run miles after that.  Dr. Jack Daniels remains my hugest running guru, with his research on training paces according to VDOT.  I’m going to re-read his coaching and get a better grip on tempo runs.

I believe tempo runs are a valuable part of training to run faster, and I continue to look for some good conversation about running tempo runs well —pace, distance, and frequency—to help me and others improve our running.

So I'm throwing it open to blogger runners: what consistently, predictably works for mastering tempo runs?

Coaching and runners photo on Flickr by Islandbum

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