Tempo runs are all about working on sustaining our lactate threshold – or more plainly, the ability to get rid of the lactic acid that tends to build us as we near the end of races. It is so important to build up our tolerance of this byproduct (lactic acid) because the benefits of clearing it are so important to running fast.
Marc and Carly finishing a run
The goal of any tempo should be this: run “comfortably hard” (10k-15k race pace) for an extended period of time. This effort then translates to allow your body to more efficiently clear waste byproduct of running really fast.
To run a tempo run effectively, I would make a few suggestions:
1. Do the tempo on a flat-ish course.
2. Use a GPS or a marked course (a track or treadmill if you must) for the run.
3. Ease into the tempo portion.
4. Maintain the same pace throughout – even in the last 400 meters when you still might be feeling good.
For more volume, you can add sprints to the end of the tempo run. An example of this would be to do 5 x 100 meters with full recovery after the tempo portion of your workout.
Remember to warm up before the tempo run and cool down afterward.
Some reading material on tempo runs:
And some viewing material about Ryan Hall’s 12-mile tempo: