Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Speed Work, Vol. II: Tempo Runs

In an earlier post I espoused the virtues of the Yasso 800's.  Today I will discuss one of my other favorite workouts, the Tempo Run.  Like the Yasso repeats, tempo runs are simple and effective.  Basically, a tempo run teaches your body how to run fast when you should be getting tired.  It does so by raising your lactate threshold.  Lactate is a by-product of muscle activity.  It's accumulation causes soreness and fatigue.  By raising your lactate threshold,  you use oxygen more efficiently, and raise the point at which your body produces and accumulates lactate.  By doing so, you prevent or delay the onset of muscle fatigue and soreness.

I recommend doing tempo runs once a week.  Start with an easy mile warm up, then run 20-30 minutes at tempo pace.  Finish with an easy mile run.  There are many ways to determine your tempo pace.  One way is to add ~20 seconds to your 10-K pace.  For instance, when I was training for the Twin Cities Marathon I ran a 10K in 38:15 (6:10/mile pace).  My tempo pace was therefore 6:30/mile.  I usually do these work outs on the treadmill because it is easy to program in the exact pace and stick to it.  The treadmill also offers a nice break from the impact of asphalt and concrete.

Tempo runs will make you a faster and stronger runner, regardless of your distance or goal.  For more information on tempo runs, Runner's World has several good articles in their archives.

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