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One-Hour Workout: Tempo Run With A Twist

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published May 6, 2014

Every Tuesday we’ll feature a different coach’s workout you can complete in 60 mins (or less!). This week’s session comes from Competitor senior editor Mario Fraioli.

The tempo run, in its most basic state, is defined as a sustained, steady effort over a set distance or predetermined length of time. It’s long been a staple workout in many a runner’s training program. Whether you’re training for a fast 5K or getting ready to race a marathon, sprinkling a tempo run or two into your training schedule will give you a lot of bang for your buck. And while the definition of a tempo run depends on who you’re talking to, for our purposes here, we’ll use half-marathon race pace as our target effort level.

Yielding many benefits, including increased stamina and enhanced efficiency, the tempo run also helps you develop the confidence to run your goal race pace for a prolonged period of time. Races, however, aren’t always run at an even effort from start to finish, so it’s important to practice changing gears during some of your toughest training runs. Tempo runs with a “twist” are an effective way to do just that.

So, what’s the twist? It’s as simple as sprinkling a short “burst” of 30 to 60 seconds into your tempo runs every fifth or 10th minute. Such a practice will better prepare you for the rigors of racing, which often involves changing gears, and will also help keep your mind and legs sharp when your focus starts to fade.

RELATED: In A Running Rut?

Tempo Run With A Twist

Warmup
Run easily for 10 to 20 minutes, follow with 6 x 20-second strides.

Main Set
Run for 20-60 minutes (or 3-8 miles depending on your ability/experience level) at your half-marathon race pace (If you don’t have a half marathon time to base this off, add 15-20-seconds per mile to your current 10K race pace). Here’s the twist: Every fifth minute throw in a 30-second “burst” at 5K-10K effort followed by an immediate return to half-marathon pace. Or, for more experienced runners, throw in a 1-minute “burst” at 5K-10K effort every tenth minute followed by an immediate return to half marathon pace.

Cool Down
Run easily for 10-20 minutes, stretch.

Visit Competitor.com for advice on fitting tempo runs into your schedule.

More one-hour workouts.

FILED UNDER: Run / Training TAGS:

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College, he coaches both elite and age-group runners and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica at the 2012 Olympics. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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