What's your Tempo?

So…studying the art of running can be completely confusing if not downright hard and certainly time consuming.  I mean, I just want to get out there and run! Dammit, Jim!

“If you want to get faster, you need to do your Fartlek’s your intervals and your Tempo runs.”

Ok,  I can handle the first two. What the hell is a Tempo run? According to About.com, this is the definition.

Definition: Tempo runs are an excellent way for runners to build speed and strength. They’re runs that are done at a steady effort level, usually just a little slower than your 10K race pace. Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold, which is critical for running faster. To get started with tempo runs, start your run with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running to warm up, then continue with 15 to 20 minutes of running about 10 seconds slower than your 10K pace. Finish with 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down. If you’re not sure what your 10K pace is, run at a pace that feels “comfortably hard.” You can also use your breathing as your guide. For an easy-paced runs, most runners take three footstrikes while breathing in and two footstrikes while breathing out. For tempo runs, you should be at two footstrikes while breathing in and one footstrike while breathing out. If you’re breathing faster than that, your pace is too fast. Even a weekly 15 to 20-minute tempo pace run is enough to get benefits from it, but some more advanced runners will do longer weekly tempo runs of 40 minutes or more.

Today, I wanted to try the Tempo. But, as always, I wanted to go longer than 15-20 minutes of running, so I opted to do close to a 5K. I’m not even sure I did this correctly, but here is what I did.

I warmed up for 1 mile. They say 5-10 minutes, so for me that is a mile. Plus, I wanted to get to a distance past my house where I wasn’t going needlessly uphill nor downhill. A mile seemed like the right place to increase my tempo.

My plan was to run a 1 mile warm up, then increase my tempo to a 10k pace but run 3 miles, then back down to a cool down jog for the last mile…which would end up uphill and give me a 5 mile run all together. To do this, according to Runmeter, I’d jog a mile, pick up the pace until I heard 2.5 miles, turn around, while still keeping my 10k pace, then run until I heard 4 miles. Finally, cool down for that final mile. Here are the numbers.



It worked out rather well. And I learned a lot from this “tempo” run.

  • I learned that I can run pretty darn fast for quite a distance. 
  • I learned that I can run through my anaerobic threshold. 
  • I learned that if and when I back down (i.e. hill climb, or recovery jog), my recovery is pretty darn fast, and after 1/4-1/2 mile, I can easily up back to my tempo 10k pace again. 
  • I also think I determined the key to achieving my New Prague Half Marathon time. I ran tempo without even realizing it…for 13 miles. 


This will be my new Saturday workout because if I have to take the girls to horse lesson, and I run there, it is nice and fairly flat. I can get the miles in without going too far. And I can get the speed up because of the lack of steep hills.  I could get into this.


Weather: A balmy 42°, cloudy and misty.

Clothing: Gap Active Compression Pant, short sleeved Champion C9 top with a long sleeved Gap Active Neon Pink Jacket, Turtle Fur Brain Shroud, and Lucy gloves.



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