Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

What is 'tempo running'? How do I use it in my training? What benefits will it bring to my performance?


Every runner has heard of the term 'Tempo' before, and many think that they know what a tempo is, what it means and how it helps their performance. In this article, we're going to take you through some definitions and explain how you can incorporate tempo running into your training to make you fitter, faster & stronger than ever before!


A tempo run, to many, means a fast run. Fast but not flat out, and there is certainly some truth to this. Scientifically, tempo can be split into two separate 'zones' or 'definitions'. The NewEra training philosophy explains that each runner can have a lower tempo zone and an upper tempo zone. The lower tempo can be defined as a pace which is taxing, but can be sustained for around 60 minutes in training. This zone is usually the target during a 'straight tempo run' of 20 minutes - 60 minutes, depending on the event the athlete is training for. Depending on the duration of the session, we usually advise our members to aim for their half marathon race pace during this type of session. The main aim of these sessions is to improve a runners' Lactate Threshold. You may have heard this term thrown around a lot, and it is defined as the point at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood. If you can improve your lactate threshold, it means you're running faster before lactate begins to accumulate, ultimately leading to greater performance. Lower tempo sessions are pretty straightforward, but here are a few examples:


Session 1)

10 minutes warm up jog / drills / strides


25 minute tempo run @ Half Marathon race pace


10 minutes cool down jog / stretching



Session 2)

10 minutes warm up jog / drills / strides


2 x 3 miles - First rep @ Half Marathon pace / Second rep @ 10km race pace + 10 seconds per mile

(4 minutes recovery between each rep)


10 minutes cool down jog / stretching



The upper tempo zone can be defined as a pace whereby you reach your Anaerobic Threshold. Your anaerobic threshold is the point at which your body is producing lactate at a faster rate than it can get rid of it. This ultimately results in a spike in your blood lactate level, decreasing your muscle PH value and leading to acidosis. This is what causes your legs to burn, your lungs to scream and your pace to drop. The end-goal to improving your anaerobic threshold is increasing the speed at which it occurs. Put simply, run faster before your body gives up. Training sessions built around the upper tempo zone are run at a faster pace than lower tempo zone sessions, but the duration of each rep is reduced. Higher intensity, lower duration. However, this doesn't mean that you can't cover the desired distance within this type of session, you just have to break it down. At NewEra, we include 'split tempo' sessions into our members' plans, whereby they run a series of longer efforts at their anaerobic threshold pace with varying recovery periods to ensure they aren't diving into the red zone week after week. Our job is to find the right balance between operating at the anaerobic threshold for a decent period of time to achieve the desired adaptation, but allowing enough recovery time to avoid over-training. Below are a few examples:


Session 1)

10 minutes warm up jog / drills / strides


3 x 10 minutes @ 10k race pace (2 minutes recovery between each rep)


10 minutes cool down jog / stretching


Session 2)

10 minutes warm up jog / drills / strides


5 x 5 minutes - First 3 reps @ 10k race pace / Last 2 reps @ 5k-10k race pace

(2 minutes recovery between reps)


10 minutes cool down jog / stretching



Include one tempo run per week into your schedule, striking the right balance between the lower zone and the upper zone and watch your pace improve gradually, but effectively. Always keep in mind that a tempo effort shouldn't be 100% effort. Yes, it'll be hard... but it shouldn't be all out.


Stay home, Stay safe.


Discover your potential.



Sources for definitions:

https://runnersconnect.net/training-with-thresholds-in-the-right-zone/


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