Push It Wednesday: Tempo Runs

I am on day 489 of my running streak and there are many other times, besides just Wednesdays, when I need to push it. Yesterday I felt deflated. With the Spring Bootie Buster Challenge done and a local race cancelled that I had my eyes on, the wind had left my sails. It was easy to not get up before work and run with the excuse I didn't want to fill my car up that early. Yes, it was essentially on empty and no, I didn't want to go to the gas station. Darling daughter was kind enough to let me know that my excuse was indeed lame. She was right. It was. I headed off to work after making her breakfast knowing that I would run later. And I did. But even before that run, my sails slowly began to inflate. A co-worker came by my desk and told me she thought of me in the morning and went out to run 20 minutes. She planned on doing another 20 minutes after work. I confessed my lame excuse for not running before work, she agreed with darling daughter, and promised her I would think of her the next morning.

And I did today. The lady I motivated help motivate me today for my tempo run. Life is sweet! The goal: 3.5 miles at my tempo pace of 8'20". Since I am the beginning of my strength training phase and will be talking a lot about growing my tempo run, let's talk a bit about tempo runs.

What is a tempo run?

A tempo run is also referred to as a threshold or steady-state run. I like to think of them as my comfortably hard runs. It takes some effort but I am not dying; although I often think I may be in the first mile of my tempo runs....and perhaps again at the end when my mind gets weak.

What is your tempo run pace?

You can use pace charts for guidance but it is the pace you can race for 60 minutes. I tend to look at my 10K performance but please take into account race courses. My 10K performance on an all uphill course is meaningless. According to the books, it is a bit faster than your half marathon pace and in all reality, a bit slower than your 10K.

How do you run a tempo run?

Always warm-up first. I like to do one mile warm up's at a 10'00" pace but do what is best for you. Some people may like a warm-up as long as 15 minutes. I then run my prescribed distance at my tempo pace. Tempo runs generally start at 20-30 minutes and can grow as long as 60 minutes. Currently, my tempo run is about 30 minutes in duration. Then do a cool down. The recommendation is the same as warm-up's, 10-15 minutes. Last week my cool down was 3 miles to hit my mileage goal. Today it was 2.5 miles. As my tempo grows, my cool down will shorten but never to less than a mile at a 10'00" pace. Currently, my cool down pace is 9'40". In addition, I strongly suggest doing your tempo runs on flat terrain if possible.

What is the benefit of running a tempo run?

Tempo runs train the cardiorespiratory and muscular systems to absorb, deliver, and utilize oxygen with efficiency while removing carbon dioxide and lactic acid. They improve endurance and lactate threshold and teach patience. The teaching patience part is HUGE! I like systematically growing my tempo runs by just 0.5 miles since it is only a few more minutes and tempo runs are a HUGE mental game for me. I can see the mental training clearly! I am sure all the physical stuff is happening but my mental games, mantras, visualizes, etc. are practiced continually in my tempo runs. Today I even "heard" my dad say "go kiddo" when I was thinking of him as a focal point to get over mental discomfort.

Do you regularly run tempo runs? What do you think of them? Any tips you have?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for good friends.
Daily Affirmation: I am good to the Earth.


  1. Don't you just love kids, they push you to be your best. Last night my daughter who is 3 said "mommy I want to do squats." Got to love em.

  2. I've been doing a weekly tempo run lately and they're definitely challenging. After a year of not really pushing myself on runs and keeping my heart rate down, it's liberating to be able to run fast but it hurts a lot more than an easy run. But the pay off is a bigger endorphin release - I can be high for hours afterwards.

  3. Anonymous6:54 AM

    I did do tempo runs. I am recovering from a back injury(and trying to recover deleting my blog because of it :)) They are a very imp part of marathon training!! Tips... PUSH you can get through that run!


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