Tempo run – what is a tempo run?

No Comments

Tempo run – what is a tempo run?

Tempo run – your long distance running workout doesn’t have to be boring. Threshold training also known as tempo training should be included in every runners training plan regardless of the distance you run.

It’s a great way to build up your endurance levels, and improve your running speed as it is a great way to reduce your tolerance to lactic acid. However, don’t do threshold training more then once a week as it is extremely fatiguing.

Why is anaerobic threshold training fatiguing

The reason why this type of training is fatiguing is because of the amount of lactic acid that builds up in your legs.

Lactic acid is that build up you feel in your legs that make your leg muscles feel heavy and hard to contract.

If you can gain a tolerance for lactic acid you can run faster.


What is the anaerobic threshold?

Your anaerobic threshold is the point when the production of lactic acid is equal to the removal of lactic acid.

If you increase your running speed beyond this point you will produce lactic acid faster than your body can remove it.

Why is this the best long distance running workout I can do?

The answer is simple. You will improve your running speed. You may run at 10kms per hour as an easy pace.

This may be your recovery pace. On another day you may want to run faster.

Lets say that your running at 14kms per hour on a treadmill and at this pace the rate at which you produce and remove lactic acid from your muscles is equal.

By training at anaerobic threshold with tempo running for a few weeks with this workout I will show you later, you will produce less lactic acid at 14kms per hour.

In other words the amount of lactic acid you will remove from your muscles will be greater than the amount your muscles are producing.

This means that your new anaerobic threshold speed may now be 15kms per hour. Your easy recovery speed will also go up as well.

Now after a few weeks of tempo training you can now run at 11kms per hour for your easy runs due to less lactic acid build up in your muscles.


How do I do tempo runs?

There are two main ways to do threshold runs (tempo runs). You can use distance as the main way to do your runs and have small rests.

Distances may range between 400 meters and 5k depending on your fitness levels and mental strength.

The alternative way and my preferred way would be to do timed runs. You may choose to use two paces.

You may do the first speed for 2 minutes, followed by your second speed which is slightly faster for 2 minutes. You would then alternate between the two speeds.

How long would I do a tempo run for?

The minimum time would be twenty minutes. This is the duration you should start at if you have never done a threshold run before.

The maximum time you should do this type of workout for is 1 hour. Take your time building up to 60 minutes. As I mentioned before, this type of training is fatiguing.

How do I work out my anaerobic threshold pace?

There a few ways to do this. You could find a sports science laboratory and do a V02 max test.

Not only will this give you your anaerobic threshold, it will give you other useful fitness data s as well.

The major problem is that it is time consuming and expensive. The cost is over £200 each time you need the test done.

Is there an easier way to determine anaerobic threshold?

Yes…… There is a much easier way to determine your anaerobic threshold.

You can simply workout 90% of your maximum heart rate and make sure you stay at that pace.

For example, if you were 50 years old your max heart rate would be 170 beats per minute (220 – 50 = 170). Your threshold pace would be 153 beats per minute (90% of 170).

This is how to add tempo training to your long distance running workout

Choose your distance. As you are going for a 20 minute workout lets try 1000 meters.

Once you have determined the pace you need to run at to work at 90% of your max heart rate, you must run every 1000 meter interval at this speed.

Make sure that you can run 1000 meters at this pace with good form and without having to strain.

If you find that you are not able to run this pace for this distance without straining you should drop your distance down to 800 meters, 600 meters or 400 meters depending on what is appropriate.

After each distance run repeat you do, you can have a short recovery where you will walk. 30 seconds recovery to about 45 seconds maximum.

Repeat this distance until your 20 minutes are over.

1000 meters @ threshold pace – 30 second recovery for 20 minutes

If you are not able to maintain form then reduce the distance but not the rest.


Threshold training should be a part of your weekly training regime as the gains are so good. Being able to buffer lactic acid will have a huge impact on your running speed and fitness levels.

Although there are other factors that help with running, such as core strength, strength training, running form, running economy, V02 max and other factors.

The ability to improve your ability to buffer lactic acid will get you some serious gains in your running.

You can find your tempo speed by using a heart rate monitor to determine 90% of your max heart rate. Alternatively, you can have this measured in a sports science laboratory.

Did you like this article on long distance training workouts?

Please let me know your thoughts on this topic by leaving a comment below. I would love to know if you found this topic useful or if you have any questions. Also, please share if you feel someone else you know may benefit from this information.

Topic: Tempo run

Previous Post
Running Injuries: 6 recovery tips that can’t fail
Next Post
9 Alternative Core Exercises To Improve Running Speed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed


Gerald has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise, Nutrition & Health. He is an ASA qualified swimming teacher, and a qualified personal trainer. Gerald has developed his own exclusion diet, which he uses to help his clients lose weight.