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Spring training is coming up quick, and we asked Carrie for a sneak peek at the training plans she has in store for our intermediate and advanced runners. This year, she says, it's all about the Tempo Run! We also asked her to tell us about why she feels tempo runs are such a great asset to our training regimens and will make for fun classes together. Read on!
By Olympian Carrie Tollefson, Moms on the Run National Fitness Director
That run that hurts so good? Welcome to the tempo run. It is a workout that is not only beneficial to our training but, if done properly, we will walk away feeling better than we did going in. It is one of my favorite runs and one of the best workouts we can do to build strength and develop a huge cardiovascular base.
Who should do a tempo run?
All of us should do tempo runs. A tempo run is a training run done at roughly 30 seconds slower per mile than your current 5K pace. I also like to refer to the pace of a tempo run as short answer pace, meaning when we are in the middle of the tempo run we can say a few words at once but not tell our life’s story.
What is a tempo run?
A tempo run is a run that is done at lactate threshold pace. It is that pace that a lot of runners forget to work. It is in between easy and hard and so important.
When should we do tempo runs?
Tempo runs are good to do throughout your entire training plan. They teach our bodies to keep running even as we build lactic acid — the stuff that makes us and our muscles tired. Lactic acid is what we feel when doing hard intervals at 5k pace or faster, when we sprint up and down those hills or on the track, and at the end of our races. Tempo runs will allow us to run just below that hard non-conversational pace for longer periods of time as we continue to work at that lactate threshold pace, which is about 85% of our max heart rates.
Where in our training plans should we do these?
Our training plan typically has you hitting tempo pace one time every 7-10 days. We have shorter tempos and longer tempos. We try to keep our bodies guessing so you won’t see the same tempo run every week, yet it is still working the same system if you do it properly and at the right pace.
Why do we do tempo runs?
I am a big believer in tempo runs. I use them for all distances but I think they are critical during my 5k, 10k, half and full marathon training. A lot of times I will incorporate them into a long run or make them the priority of my week. I also feel like these runs are at a pace where we work hard but can still have some fun along the way. It isn’t that pace that is so hard that we have to really focus and stay super serious the whole time. Typically while out on a tempo run, I can wave at a friend or teammate, tell my coach I feel great, or look around a little bit. That is my type of workout.
I hope you enjoy these workouts that we have designed for the Spring/Summer plans. I think by the end of the season you will really understand why I think you will feel better coming out of them than you did going in. Enjoy, work hard, and keep getting after it!