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.
Tempo Run With A Twist
Run easily for 10 to 20 minutes, follow with 6 x 20-second strides.
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.
Run easily for 10-20 minutes, stretch.