This is also known as lactate threshold or anaerobic threshold (it has various names, which can cause some confusion). He’ll define the pace intensity, specifically the pace you would run on a flat road or track in good conditions. Additionally, he’ll discuss the perceived effort or percentage of maximum heart rate associated with it, along with providing sample workouts:

“Understanding the Tempo Run

Let’s kick things off with a clear definition. When I say “tempo run,” I’m referring to a pace that you can maintain for around 60 minutes in a race scenario. Picture it as the sweet spot between your 10k and half marathon race paces. For more elite runners, this might even brush against half marathon pace. It’s not an all-out sprint, but it’s definitely more than a casual jog in the park.

Decoding Pace and Intensity

The magic of a tempo run lies in finding that perfect pace—fast enough to challenge you, but sustainable for the long haul. Consider this: if you can complete a 10k in 50 minutes, your tempo pace would be a bit slower than that, but definitely quicker than your easy or marathon pace. Think of it as an 8/10 intensity. It’s a delicate balance that demands effort but promises endurance.

Adapting to Varied Conditions

Now, let’s address the reality check. Trail runners and those battling unpredictable weather conditions, this is for you. Pacing strategies might need a tweak. In such cases, relying on perceived effort or using a heart rate monitor can be beneficial. Tempo runs are about pushing your limits without going full throttle into an all-out sprint.

Let’s Dive into Sample Workouts

Enough theory—let’s talk practicality. One classic workout is the 20-minute tempo run. Start with an easy jog, throw in some strides, hit a 20-minute tempo pace, and cool down with another easy jog. It’s about maintaining a challenging yet controlled effort. But the variations are endless—hill repeats, kilometer/mile repeats, and even 10k repeats with short rests.

The Heart of the Matter: Heart Rate and Perceived Effort

Ever wondered why tempo runs can feel uncomfortable? I often find that the perceived effort, typically around 85% of your maximum heart rate, serves as a reliable indicator of the right intensity. It’s important to note that solely using a heart rate monitor can be tricky to gauge effort. A lot of people don’t know their “true” maximum heart rate, or heart rate monitors are prone to trip errors!

A Notch Below: Enter “Up Tempo”

Let’s introduce a concept called “up tempo.” I don’t want to get too into it and potentially confuse you, but it’s a slightly less intense pace, closer to marathon pace. Think longer runs at a brisk pace, emphasizing progression and acceleration. These are also great workouts to incorporate in your training.

Progression Over Time

Tempo runs aren’t about pushing to the limit every time. They’re about progress over time. If you find yourself improving your tempo pace by a few seconds per mile or kilometer, that’s a sign of growth in both fitness and efficiency.

The Importance of Consistency

Building up gradually and maintaining consistency in incorporating tempo runs into your training plan is crucial. These workouts, approached wisely, enhance aerobic capacity and muscular efficiency without risking burnout.

So, there you have it—a glimpse into the intricate world of tempo runs. Stay tuned for more insights and happy running!”