Trying to Master the "Elusive" Tempo Run

Daniel's Running Formula - An essential for the runner's library

  • "Ideally, a tempo run is nothing more than a steady 20-minute run at threshold pace. Subjectively, the intensity of effort associated with threshold pace running is comfortably hard. Again, your effort should be one that you could maintain for about an hour in a race."

  • "Many coaches and runners do longer tempo runs at slower than true threshold pace, and this can yield positive results. Prolonged running at this relatively hard intensity builds a good sense of maintaining a strong pace for an extended period of time, and, as stated earlier, in some instances the demand can be as psychologically intense as a shorter run at true threshold pace."

  • "Possibly the biggest challenge in doing tempo runs is to hold the proper pace and resist turning your tempo run into a time trial. Remember that the proper pace is more beneficial than a faster (or slower) one. This is a good workout for practicing your ability to concentrate on a running task and keep in touch with how your body feels while running comfortably hard."
  • Jack Daniels, author of Daniel's Running Formula
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    As I outlined previously, I want to do more tempo runs this round of marathon training because; in my last marathon, my legs "ran out of gas" at the 30K mark making the rest of the race, how shall we say, less than enjoyable. By emphasizing the tempo run, my hope is to improve my ability to clear lactate from my system while running at my marathon pace.

    I'm using the ideas of the "World's Best Running Coach" (according to Runner's World Magazine) - Jack Daniels. His book is very precise in discussing what is a tempo run, what pace to run, how long to run and so forth. Based on current running performance, Daniels has a chart in his book to calculate your "true threshold pace" to use in training.

    In my training program, I plan on doing longer tempo runs at a pace somewhat slower than my "true threshold" pace. (Daniels even has a chart for this too!) I'll try to build up to 60 minutes of tempo running during my long run.

    The tempo run has an "elusive" quality because; as Daniels mentions, it's easy to push and go faster than tempo pace, making it a time trial instead. And thus, limiting the positive physical adaptations that come with tempo running. I'm going to have to remain patient! Also, I do agree with Daniels that a tempo run is psychologically challenging. The runner has to be focused when pushing the pace, while remaining patient with this intensity level of running.
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    For another article on tempo running, check out: Monthly Run Challenge: Tempo Run

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