Tempo run: The do’s and dont’s for beginners

Tempo run: The do's and dont's for beginners

I figured it could be useful to compile a short list of the do’s and dont’s that serve as a first starting point to anyone new to tempo training.

  • Control your effort, be disciplined and develop a good feel for the pace. ‘Comfortable hard’ is what you’re aiming for.
  • Remain focused. It’s easy to lose concentration and slow down, or get carried away and speed up.
  • Ease into the tempo portion.
  • Do your tempo runs on a flat course. Use a GPS, a measured course (TM,track) or use landmarks (a tree, street lamp..) -be creative!

Ironman Kona World Championships 2009 (2:52 h Marathon)

  • Your rest intervals, in a typical tempo workout, should be kept short to make the best use of your time. More importantly, a short rest interval won’t let you recover too much and that will stop you from exercising too hard.
  • When training with others, be prepared to drop off the pace. Don’t get sucked in. More often then not, speeding has caused more harm than good.
  • Improvements should be measured in terms of achieving a similar time for less effort, not pushing harder!
  • Tempo intensity is kind of a ‘sexy’ stuff, does make you feel good and more productive but don’t let too much creep into other sessions. Cut short, reduce intensity or abandon a workout if pace or power (wattage) drop significantly, your heart rate spikes and shoots right through the roof, or on days when you’re working way too hard to attain & maintain tempo intensity.
  • Too much of anything can be counterproductive (overtraining–>injury–>burnout). With that being said the whole point of training is to get tired. Pleasantly tired that is not feeling exhausted.
  • If you gauge your tempo workout with a heart rate monitor (88-92% of your maximum heart rate), use a 10 beat band: +/- 5 beats from your target. For cycling training with a power meter use a 20-30 wattage band (10-15 w from your target range).
  • Don’t rely totally on your smart sport watch. It is a very useful training device, so don’t get me wrong, but it is not a substitute for your own feel for pace (instinct; perceived effort).
  • Tempo training is classified as HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING (HIT) and so it is not exactly pain free. You can sustain this pace for the foreseeable time, but your breathing is somewhat labored and conversation is definitely curtailed. Think “tunnel vision”. You won’t be able to notice much around you like when exercising in zone 2.
  • Above all, look inside and stay connected with your body. Learn more about yourself and your body through observation. Don’t let a watch do that for you. When you pay close enough attention you will begin to make better decisions, judge and better understand your body’s signals and reactions.