Rebel runners and tempo runs

Rebel PT Trainer Grant is well known for his quick wit and quick pace! He has shared some top tips in previous blogs on incorporating Speedwork into your running training plan and Stride work too! This month, Grant has been persuaded into running the Baker 10k with the Rebels and shares some words on tempo runs with us – what they are and how to do them.

What is a tempo run?

A tempo run (also known as a ‘threshold run’) is a way of getting your body more efficient at using lactate as a fuel source and clearing the waste products created as your body’s metabolism works.

Why should I incorporate tempo runs into my training programme?

If you find your legs feel heavy, tired or burny when running (particularly on race day) then doing tempo runs will allow you to push that little bit harder and faster,  before this becomes an issue. The fatigue is caused by the build up of hydrogen ions (acid) in your muscles when using lactate as a fuel source and so by doing tempo run sessions, your body is able to clear the acid from the muscles more quickly; which in turn means the fatigue takes longer to kick in.

When should I do tempo runs?

I would recommend trying to do a tempo session once per week. Ideally this should not be the day before or after another a hard run session (such as speedwork or a long run); otherwise it can lead to burnout and you won’t get the full benefit of the individual sessions. A recovery run the day after a hard session is something that has a lot more benefit than most people appreciate… (but let’s leave that one for a future post)!

How do I do a tempo run?

Firstly, like most sessions you should spend a good 10 minutes or so warming up… before a tempo run session, I’d suggest an easy jog followed by some dynamic warm-up drills and strides work.  For your tempo pace there are a few different ways you can find it: Add 30-40 seconds to your 5k or 15-20 seconds to your 10k race pace (minutes per mile/20-30 seconds or 10-15 seconds per km), run at 82-90% of your max heart rate or run at a perceived exertion level of about 8/10.

Once you’ve warmed up, there are a couple of options for how to do the tempo run depending on your level and what you’re training for. It’s usually best to find somewhere flat to do these so you can keep a steady pace throughout, personally I like the Aberdeen beachfront for these sesisons or if you enjoy running in circles a track is also a good option.

Here’s a couple of examples of a tempo run:

  1. Warm-Up, 5 minutes at easy pace, 4 x run at tempo pace for 5 minutes with 2 minutes of easy pace in between, 5 minutes at easy pace, cool down
  2. Warm-Up, 5-10 minutes at easy pace, 2 x run at tempo pace for 15-25 minutes with 3-5 minutes of easy pace in between, 5-10 minutes at easy pace, cool down. If training for a marathon or half marathon potentially do 3 efforts rather than 2 (P.S this one is my favourite)
  3. Warm-Up, 5-10 minutes at easy pace, run at tempo pace for 20-40 minutes, 5-10 minutes at easy pace, cool down

As always, Grant will happily talk running or tempo runs and answer any questions at any of the Rebel PT bootcamp sessions in Westburn Park! #RunRebelRun