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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, my training schedule calls for a tempo run of a specified distance...let's say 7.5 miles. Does that mean, in your opinion, that it should be 7.5 miles at Tempo pace or should my warm-up, tempo miles, and cool-down equal the 7.5.<br><br>
Yesterday my marathon schedule called for a 6.5 mile Tempo run. Now, this is the first week of training, but ultimately goal pace for a tempo run for me is 7:34-8:00...a little out of my ability right now. Here is what I did:<br><br>
Mile 1- 9:25<br>
Mile 2- 8:27<br>
Mile 3- 8:00<br>
Mile 4- 7:45<br>
Mile 5- 8:34<br>
Mile 6- 8:34<br>
last .5- 8:34 pace (4:17)<br><br>
Does that seem like a good set-up for a 6.5 mile tempo run? Granted, i will need to get faster, but the general build-up/pace maintenance is what I wonder about.<br><br>
Thanks for your input.
 

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Good question.<br><br>
Regarding your scheduled 6.5 miles of tempo, its difficult to comment without seeing the scope of your overall training plan.<br><br>
Without seeing it, I'd say that 6.5mi is too much. The classic tempo run is about 20-30 minutes steady at your prescribed tempo pace. This pace is commonly stated at 1 hour (or 15k) race pace. This pace is "comfortably hard," and lies somewhere between Interval pace (faster than tempo) and Marathon pace (slower.)<br><br>
That said, there are various methods to accomplish LT, or tempo paced runs. The best bang for the buck is the steady tempo run. Or, you can break up the minutes via the method Daniels calls "Cruise Intervals." There are short breaks (commonly performed with a run to rest ratio of 5:1) in this method of T-pace running.<br><br>
Looking over the pace from your run, you are not far off from achieving 3 miles at your T-pace. Miles 3 and 4 were good and you just fell off in mile 5.<br><br>
After a good warm-up, I would start out again by trying 20 minutes at your prescribed tempo pace and see how you fare. Its a good idea to use a track or flat measured course. The goal is a even, sustained pace. Hills are not as good for this type run since hills could spike the heart rate too high and out of range for the goals of tempo-paced running.<br><br>
Good luck with implementing your tempo runs.
 

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I agree with most of what Roots had to say regarding tempo runs. For me these are really key workouts for racing 10+.<br><br>
You didn't say how you got at your pace for the tempo. If you haven't used it, here's the <a href="http://www.mcmillanrunning.com/rununiv/mcmillanrunningcalculator.htm" target="_blank">McMillan Calculator</a> which will give you an estimate for a tempo pace on a race time. Here's <a href="http://runningtimes.com/rt/articles/?id=5615" target="_blank">great article by Kevin Beck</a> on tempo runs.<br><br>
I do these as 30 minutes, and wrap them with a 1.5-2.5 warmup and cooldown. I'll usually do them on a flat trail or more frequently on the track. At the pace that I run them (around what I think I could pace a 10 miler that day) 6.5 at that pace would be too far. I do now that some marathon trainers (which I am not) push the distance on these longer and lower the pace. I'm not sure how that works. PacerChris or CoachT might have more info on that type of workout.<br><br>
I prefer the steady tempo run to the cruise interval. I think there is more bang for your buck, and I also think that they are mentally tough runs and good prep for race day.<br><br>
That range (7:34-<img alt="cool.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/cool.gif"> is a pretty big range. I would encourage you to start at the top of the range during the beginning of the program and use a trail with at least 0.5m markers or a track and try to really nail the even pace throughout. I don't know that it makes much of a differnce for how much the workout helps, but I find it for me to be a big help for race pacing.<br><br>
So, like Roots says - start with 3 miles or so and try to keep it nice and steady. Then maybe start working it up towards 30 minutes, and as the program progresses, see if the pace drops while still keeping the same effort level.<br><br>
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the input!<br>
Well, I am a horrible pacer, so I did this run on a treadmill. I have a Garmin and I have a heart rate monitor but I hate to wear both at the same time. Now my heart rate did get up to 185 for the fastest mile, which is why I had to drop to 8:34. But it mostly stayed between 166-173, which seems to be a pretty standard HR for me. My HR seems to be higher than I would have thought it would be, but I just started using a HR monitor about 2 weeks ago. I should also say that I am shooting for a 3:40 marathon which would be 8:32-ish pace.
 

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The way I do tempo runs is warm up 1-1.5 miles, do the tempo distance (on treadmill or trail with markers every .25 miles), cool down 1-1.5 miles. What that means with your program I don't know, but it works well for me.<br><br>
My coach has had me do a longest tempo run of 5 miles, I believe. She's also had me do Tempo Intervals with 1-2:00 rest between (My T pace is similar to yours).
 

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Rebecca,<br><br>
To underscore what Tom said, perhaps you're out of range for your tempo pace. Perhaps not.<br><br>
A way to find out is from a <b>recent</b> race result, or time trial. The idea is to perform your workout to your current fitness rather than at your desired goal race result.<br><br>
If you don't have a recent result, I suggest running a 5km race or a 2mi time trial, to the best of your ability. Take that result and plug into the calculator to find the tempo range that is best suited to your current fitness.<br><br>
After a few weeks of performing quality workouts in the range of your current fitness, I would expect your fitness to improve further.<br><br>
Keep us posted.
 

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There are several definitions for tempo runs, so it's important to be on the right page with your plan. Many people say a tempo run is done at goal race pace, and if that's what you mean then a 6.5 mile tempo run is not out of place for a marathon training plan. Usually this type of tempo run is about one quarter of your race distance, and can be stretched to a third if you recover well.<br><br>
The second definition is what I call a threshold run, where you are running at the inflection point of your blood lactate concentration curve. This run is often described as a pace you could hold for an hour race on that day, and is normally done for 20 minutes or so, not including warmup or cooldown. For elite runners it's about HM pace, but for slower runners it begins to approach 10k pace. I run HM's at around 1:55, and 10k at around 53 min. My threshold runs are normally (currently) around 8:20 to 8:30 per mile.<br><br>
Threshold runs are useful to improve stamina or power. If all of your aerobic running is done at an easy pace you will develop very efficient fat burning mechanisms, but you will be uncomfortable and energy inefficient when running near your threshold, where glycogen is the preferred fuel source. However, running at threshold for only 20 or 30 min per week will help elevate the inflection point, which will in turn elevate your velocity at marathon pace.<br><br>
When I do a threshold run I try to find a flat section of ground where I can manage to run for 20 to 30 min at threshold pace. Warmup is critical and I will take as long as I feel I need to be comfortable. I begin my warmup at a very slow pace and then allow the pace to slowly speed up according to how I feel. I do not force the pace, as that usually causes me to feel that I'm going too fast during the threshold portion, and I will drop out before I'm done. So I normally will try to hold back and slowly speed up until I hit the right pace. Starting pace is somewhere around 7 min per km, increasing over the next half hour to around 5:15 per km. Then I hold that pace for 4 to 6 km before backing down to around 6:15 per km for the final couple of km. My total distance is usually around 10 to 14 km. 20 to 30 min warmup, 20 to 30 min at threshold, and 10 min cooldown. I do not find threshold runs to be tough runs. After a good one I'm always left with a feeling that I could have run a little bit further. The next day I'm good to go, and I am not someone who recovers quickly from hard runs.<br><br>
I used to do thresholds on a track until I got a good enough sense of my body to do them on the road. Nowadays I can do them on hills if I want to but I prefer to do them on flat roads, as hills make it difficult to judge effort to the level I would like.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, then essentially I am right on then, because I did warm up and cooldown but maybe my last mile was too fast and should have been more like a cool-down.<br><br>
Roots- I agree that that pace is too fast which is why i slowed it down.....my last 5K which was a PR was last summer and I did a 23:12 which puts me at a 3:46 marathon. This time i plugged in a 3:38 marathon and worked back wards. My plan is to start the schedule with my paces a little slower than calculated but slowly over the weeks try to hit those paces.<br><br>
PS--you guys are super awesome and helpful....mucho thanks-o!
 

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Toe Jam:<br><br>
Just my $.02, but I think their is some danger in working backwards from McMillan using a goal time. If you are not yet at that fitness level, then a tempo run - which in terms of the definitions that tigger gave (thanks btw) would move you below LT (lactate threshhold) pace and it will be a more difficult workout (and possibly not as beneficial).<br><br>
As roots suggested, working in a race to determine your current fitness level would probably help you out with more data.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
i know, you are all right! <img alt="sad.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/sad.gif"> But I don't wanna....<br><br>
Seriously, thanks again for great feedback. I suppose I will have to listen to your collective wisdom <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">
 

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I do my tempo runs just like Tigger describes. I start out for 30 minutes at what I believe I could run a real easy 10k at if I actually don't know my LT numbers, low zone 3 (or 4Mmol) if I actually know my LT. The next week I do 40, 50, when I get to 50 I either go to 60 minutes or try 40 minutes at a faster pace (3-4 seconds per mile). My warm-up is 10-20 minutes and a 10 minute cool-down. I generally feel that they are comfortable hard. I always do at least the first session on a treadmill (or track) to learn the pace and try to do the longest one outside on the road to see if I know effort of the pace.
 

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I do tempo runs much the same as others - usually a 2 mile warm up and cool down (or a stagger home as we sometimes call it). Depending on how far out I am from my goal race, the total distance varies as does the pace. If I'm a ways out, which you probably are assuming you're doing a fall marathon, 3-4 miles is probably an ok distance for your tempo run.<br><br>
Re: pace - you should be able to do your goal marathon pace now for that distance, if not a little faster. Don't go crazy - 20-30 seconds faster than MP is probably fine, and if that hurts too much it may be due to the summer weather. After 3-4 weeks of 3-5 miles tempo, you should kinda figure it out and then you can increase the distance a little and quicken the pace a little from there.<br><br>
My goal is to work up to 8-10 miles at tempo - but that's quite a ways to go especially if I'm doing it fairly hard. I think if you can work up to 6 or 7 miles, you'll be in great shape. Better to go faster than farther, in my opinion - tempo runs get me ready to run a good pace (slower than tempo) during my marathon and KNOW I can do that for a while. They're great strength builders and huge confidence boosters.
 

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I finally re-discovered this article below by Kevin Beck.<br><br>
A Tempo Run by Many Other Names<br>
The T-word Describes a Specific--and Very Useful--Workout<br><br>
By Kevin Beck<br>
As featured in the December 1999 issue of Running Times Magazine<br><br><br><br>
After watching the first two dozen victims drift across the finish line of a local five-miler one steamy morning last summer, I tracked down a friend, an accomplished road warrior with a 26:00 PR for the distance. A quick look at the guy—he was slouched over a fence and muttering to himself—suggested he’d made no concessions to the smothering July heat and humidity. Turns out he had finished somewhat below his usual spot in the regional pecking order, and I asked him—gingerly—how he felt about his race.<br><br>
"Ahhh," he grumbled, flinging sweat into my face with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I ended up basically doing a tempo run."<br><br>
Oh, I see. And this "tempo run" had ended in a grunting, flailing sprint to the finish to reel in a long-haired fellow with a nipple ring. I asked my friend about his splits.<br><br>
"Went out in 5:00, 5:15. Didn’t check the third mile, but by then I was feeling it and didn’t care. I just kind of cruised in." Another wave.<br><br>
This time I dodged the sweat-bullets and thought: He’d run his first mile faster than his 5K race pace. Tempo run?<br><br>
Another friend reported doing a recent "two-mile tempo run," with the first mile in 5:14 and the second in 5:34. The uneven pacing was no surprise to me; she had recently run a peak-effort 5K at 5:25 pace, which suggests she was sucking a lot of air after the first mile of her workout.<br><br>
This pattern of extremely ambitious "tempo runs" seems to be on the rise. Imprudent use of the t-word is endemic among runners, and the above examples clearly indicate that even seasoned, top-notch competitors either don’t know or don’t care what a tempo run really is. This is surprising, because the term is clearly and simply defined by coaches and exercise physiologists. And this is not a matter of nit-picking semantics; doing a tempo run incorrectly greatly compromises its training benefits.<br><br>
The Real (and Unreal) Thing<br><br>
The term "tempo run" is to distance running in the ’90s what Studio 54 was to ’70s decadence: Tossing it around separates the wannabes from the in-crowd. It’s a key staple in the training diet, to be sure, but very few seem to know just what the recipe calls for.<br><br><br><br>
The misuse of the phrase is fed by two main sources: basic ignorance and the tendency of a dispirited runner to grab for the nearest handy excuse. Anyone who labels a race in which he doesn’t stick precisely to a predetermined pace a "tempo run" is invariably offering a ramshackle justification for a sub-par performance. The term seems to be particularly applied to races in which the athlete goes out hard and crashes harder. My favorite example is that of a friend who dropped out 21 miles into a marathon and, in a mitigating gesture, called the disappointing result a "tempo run." Twenty-one miles at 10-mile race pace? I’m not surprised he had to quit.<br><br>
The popularization of the tempo run also provides opportunities for sandbagging and psychological ploys. I’ve heard competitors mumble, "I’m just doing a tempo run," seconds before commencing to hammer out a whopping PR.<br><br>
Just Over Easy<br><br>
So just for review, let’s see how the experts define the term. Also known as an anaerobic threshold (AT) run or lactate-threshold run, the tempo run was popularized by Jack Daniels, Ph.D., about a decade ago. Here’s his definition, taken from Daniels’ Running Formula (Human Kinetics): "A tempo run is nothing more than 20 minutes of steady running at threshold pace." (He goes on to say that 20 minutes is ideal, but may be varied to suit the needs of a particular course.) Without getting too technical, threshold pace is the effort level just below which the body’s ability to clear lactate, a by-product of carbohydrate metabolism, can no longer keep up with lactate production. Daniels states that this pace is, for most people, about 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than current 5K race pace.<br><br>
Exercise physiologist and coach Pete Pfitzinger adds: "For very fit runners, the pace is between 15K and half-marathon race pace." For those fond of using heart rate monitors, Daniels notes that tempo runs are done at 90% of maximum. However, most runners seem to find it easier to use running speed as a guide.<br><br>
For those who have neither HRMs nor marked courses at their disposal, Daniels stresses that the effort associated with a tempo run should be "comfortably hard"—one that could be maintained for an hour in a race.<br><br>
Simple enough. But troll the Internet for definitions and you will find statements such as the following:<br><br><br><br>
A Team Oregon running club definition: "One fourth to one third of race distance at race pace."<br><br>
From something called "The Bad Runner’s Bible": "A type of training run based on time instead of distance. Tempo runs are good for when you have no idea how long a trail is."<br><br>
From the training log of mountain maven Matt Carpenter: "Four-mile tempo run on a hill at approximately 12% grade." (According to Daniels: "Hills, rough footing and wind all play havoc with the ability to maintain a steady pace, and interfere with achieving the purpose of the workout."<img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif"><br>
Tempo How-Tos<br><br>
Maintaining a specific and consistent pace is the most important aspect of a tempo run. However, this doesn’t exclude variety in other respects, depending on a runner’s individual goals. Says Pfitzinger, "The tempo runs I use for my athletes most frequently are four to six miles at 15K to half-marathon race pace." For marathoners, Pfitzinger prescribes up to nine miles at between half-marathon and marathon race pace, or a 13-mile run followed by five miles at between half-marathon and marathon pace. He will typically have his runners perform two of these workouts every three weeks during a marathon build-up. This is a sensible guideline; as the goal race approaches (but before tapering) the runner might want to increase the frequency to one tempo effort weekly.<br><br>
Pfitzinger adds that not all competitors benefit equally from tempo runs. "Athletes racing from 15K on up to the marathon receive the most benefit from tempo runs because the physiological adaptations are most specific to the demands of those races," he notes. "An improvement in lactate threshold is only a small benefit for a 5K race because that race is run well above lactate-threshold pace. Performance in races of 15K to the marathon, however, is determined primarily by the runner’s lactate-threshold pace." Tempo runs, therefore, provide a direct and important benefit in longer races for runners at any level, from novice to elite veteran.<br><br>
Variations on the AT theme<br><br>
Daniels mentions another workout, "cruise intervals," which are tempo runs interspersed at regular (say, one-mile or 10-minute) intervals by 30- to 60-second rest periods. This pattern diminishes the psychological difficulty of the workout while preserving the aerobic benefits, allows greater volume (five miles or even more for elite marathoners) and may help guard against excessive speed. He also recommends inserting periods of AT running into long runs—say, two 20-minute tempo runs bookending an easy one-hour run—something a marathoner might do bi-weekly in the latter stages of race preparation.<br><br>
Of course, any coach would strongly discourage the "accidental" tempo run that results from melting down in the middle of a race. As for another practice that has become common, deliberately planning races as tempo runs, Pfitzinger is almost as disapproving. "I don’t like the idea of my runners giving anything short of 100% effort," he opines, "and even if the plan was to go at tempo-run pace, any motivated runner would likely go too hard once the gun fires."<br><br>
Remember, the one real requirement of tempo running is that you stick to a steady, specific, planned pace. Beyond that you have many options. Of course, if you’re still unsure, you can always resort to the tongue-in-cheek prescription set forth by the Tahoe Mountain Milers: "Tempo run: Running to the beat of your favorite song should be done at least once a week."<br><br>
Kevin Beck runs to his own beat in Concord, NH.<br><br>
Copyright ©2007 Running Times Magazine. All rights reserved.
 

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Nothing much to add about tempo runs. I just do a two to four mile warmup, a few miles at or a bit faster than my half and a two to four mile cooldown.<br><br>
I just wanted to say, thanks tigger for posting that article. I really miss reading Kevin Beck and his blog. Brings back memories.
 

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Echoing some of what has been stated here, you should use your current state of fitness to determine the paces for workouts. As you progress, you can quicken things up. A couple of races to determine progress are good for this. For example, you can use a current 10K time and plug it into Mcmillan. After 6 weeks, you have another 10K - you recalibrate your paces to reflect your increased fitness.
 
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