A tempo run is done at approximately the pace you would run an hour-long race, which for most runners falls somewhere between 10K and half marathon pace. Tempo runs help train you to hold a faster pace for longer, just like you will in a 10K or half marathon race.
However, the basic 3-mile tempo run can be a bit boring if you have done the workout several times before. Adding variety to your training will not only beat boredom, but a different stimulus will help you break out of a training plateau and run a new PR come race day. By slightly changing the paces of your tempo run to run a bit slower at the start and faster at the end, you maintain the purpose of the workout while challenging your body in a new way.
This week’s running workout is a multi-paced variation on the tempo run. It will help increase your endurance and prepare you to push hard at the end of the race. This workout requires focus and will improve your sense of pacing, as you get faster and faster as the run progresses. If you are worried about starting out too fast in your upcoming 10K or half marathon, this run will help teach you to start at a restrained effort and finish fast.
You can use your most recent half marathon or 10K race time to estimate your training paces for this run. Marathon pace should feel only slightly harder than your easy running pace and is approximately 20-30 seconds per mile slower than half marathon pace. Half marathon pace should feel comfortably hard, about 15-20 seconds per mile slower than your 10K race pace. Your 10K pace should feel hard but sustainable – if you know your 5K race pace, 10K race pace is approximately 15 seconds per mile slower than 5K pace.
If you don’t have a recent race time, go by effort: run the first 10 minutes at a moderate effort (able to speak a sentence or two at a time), the middle 10 at a comfortably hard effort (able to speak in short phrases), and the final 10 at a hard effort (able to speak a word or two).
- Warm up with dynamic stretches and 10-15 minutes of running at an easy effort.
- Complete the following workout without any breaks:
- Run 10 minutes at marathon race pace.
- Run 10 minutes at half marathon race pace.
- Run 10 minutes at 10K race pace.
- Cool down with 5-10 minutes of running at an easy effort.