Tempo Training - The Need for Speed

Tempo Training - The Need for Speed

When I started running I had no idea what people were talking about when they said they "trained" whilst they were running. I just ran, that was hard enough. Now I've learnt a little bit about running I thought I'd share what has helped me the most to improve.

Whatever distance you're training for, if you're following a plan I'm pretty sure there will be a tempo session in there. After posting about my tempo runs on social I've been asked a couple of times recently what's involved so I thought I'd explain.

Why: Runner's World advise that the idea behind tempo training is to put yourself in a training zone where you experience a lactate-threshold (LT). By increasing your LT you extend the period in which the body will fatigue at a certain pace. This is different to speed training where you do shorter sprint bursts.

The aim: For the half and full marathon you need to incorporate the long run for endurance, but tempo sessions allow you to train your body to sustain speed over a distance.

Why it works: Tempo sessions improve metabolic fitness. Tempo sessions teach the body how to use oxygen most efficiently.

How: there are a number of ways of tempo training and it will come down to personal preference. Remember, the tempo session is not meant to be easy. It's not like a sprint session which may make you feel sick. My tip is to get to where your pace feels uncomfortable and stay there.

My tempo run - meVme
A few weeks ago I went for a tempo run and decided to do something different. A 6k loop twice. The benefit being that I could set my pace on the first loop and try and beat myself on the second loop. The reason this works so well is because although I can check my time week on week I can also check my pace that day. I know I'm not alone in having some runs which are great and some that just aren't. By adopting the meVme technique you can take all of the variables/excuses out - I was tired, I didn't sleep well, I was dehydrated - all of those factors will apply to both the first and second loop so there's nothing left for me to do but focus my mind not on excuses but driving my arms and powering myself round the loops. I do admit that a 2 x 6k tempo session is quite long but as it's part of my marathon training I'm also trying to practice keeping at an uncomfortable pace for a sustained period and get my miles in. If you've been following me for a while you'll know that I only actually run 3 days a week in my plan so I have to make those runs count.

If you have any ideas for making tempo training more fun be sure to let me know on Twitter or Instagram @lucy_fitness


*Thanks ASICS for sending over new kicks and kit some of which feature in this post and thanks to Gatsby for photobombing me as usual.