Monday, February 11, 2013

Pop Quiz

If races are a true test of a runner’s fitness, then tempo runs are like a pop quiz. Nothing too taxing, just a quick check to make sure you’ve been keeping up and have a good grasp of the material.

If you are not familiar with what a Tempo Run is, it’s a run of varying length (usually between 20- 40 minutes) which is done at, or slightly above, the pace where lactate starts to build up in your muscles - leading to muscle fatigue. Generally, this pace equates to your 15k or Half Marathon race pace. It should feel “comfortably hard” for the full duration of the run, but not all out. Greg McMillan does a pretty good job of explaining it HERE.

Tempo Runs, or “Lactate Threshold Runs” as they are commonly referred to, have always been a good indicator of my current fitness level. Generally, when I can get my 6-mile tempo run down to the 6:05 - 6:10 minute per mile range, good results usually follow. And, not only does a good Tempo Run help increase my endurance, it helps boost my confidence as well!
This winter, I have been doing a pretty good job of getting a tempo run in at least once every other week. I usually mix it up in terms of length and course just to keep things fresh. My last 3 tempo runs have been as follows: 6 miles @ 6:22, 8 miles @ 6:27 and 6 miles @ 6:10. Hopefully this trend will continue and I can get down to the 6:05 range by the end of the month. Sure would be nice to head into New Bedford with that kind of confidence in my back pocket!

Are you ready for your Pop Quiz? If so, find out what your tempo run pace should be and get out there. To help with that, there’s a nifty pace calculator (also by Greg McMillan) which can be found HERE. Good Luck!


  1. I usually do some type of tempo once a week, but I like to change things up. I might do 2x15 min near 10K pace or something like 3x5k's at HMP. My body seems to adapt quickly to pace, so if I run a similar workout every week I'll get good at that workout, but not necessarily better at the distance I'm training for. Plus, running the same workout is boring...

  2. Good advice Katie! It's always more comfortable for me to dial into one pace and stick with it throughout rather than breaking it into segments - like you do. In the first McMillan link he talks about Full-Spectrum LT training. I think I'll try to work a little bit more of that into my Tempo Diet.