By Coach Sandi Nypaver
(Published in 2014)
Straight tempo runs, uphill tempos, tempo intervals, up-tempos- We love tempos and think this is one of the most important workouts that we give all of our athletes and also have in all our training plans.
The purpose of a tempo run is to increase your lactate threshold to run faster at an easier effort. In other words, your body is becoming more efficient at running and holding off lactic acid. It’s also going to get your legs used to moving faster for longer periods of time without creating as much stress within the body that a harder workout would, so the recovery time is usually less. This also means that it’s okay to do tempo runs almost all year round, which isn’t true for faster intervals that can create high levels of lactic acid.
Running at the right effort level is key for tempo runs. While running a tempo it shouldn’t be easy to hold a conversation, but you shouldn’t be gasping for air or thinking you can’t hold the pace for much longer. It should truly feel comfortably uncomfortable. Tempos should be at ~85-90% max heart rate with “uptempos” being on the easier side.
Temperature, wind, hills, and how you’re feeling should all affect the pace you’re running your tempo at, but your effort should not be affected. If you’re running 7:00 min pace and you start running up a hill, you need to slow your pace while trying to maintain the same effort level. You don’t always need to go out of your way to run on a perfectly flat road just to hit a certain pace.