Tempo Running

Enjoy run

As you progress your running ability, you may want to include some Tempo running or Aerobic Threshold running.  Once you have built up a good aerobic base and are able to cover your chosen distance without stopping, you will benefit from this method of training..

Tempo running improves not only your physical fitness but also improves concentration and your pacing skill. Tempo runs are better than Interval training in developing your mental strengths as you are not allowed the regular recoveries and so you stay focussed for a longer period of time. Tempo runs may last for anything from 10 minutes to 40 minutes but you should build up to them gently. 

Below are some ideas of sessions you can do to prepare you for tempo running.

They can be run either indoors on a treadmill or outdoor on any surface. If you haven't done this kind of session before you should back off the pace for the first couple of times but after that you should aim to run faster than your easy or steady pace so that you are running at a pace where you could answer a question in short sentences but not hold a full-on conversation. Any runner from beginner to elite can run these sessions as the amount of effort involved is personal and only you can tell if you are putting in enough effort to make it worthwhile.


The sessions below progress gradually. Try them over the next few months but don't be afraid to back-track or repeat any if you feel that the next step up is too great.


Remember to alway  warm up before the session and cool down afterwards as these sessions are short, sharp but intense:

The fast paces are usually at around 8/10 effort and might be somewhere between a 10k and half marathon pace. If you are doing them for the first time stat at 7/10 and move towards 8/10 as you work through the session. The slow paces should allow you to recover so you are ready to repeat the efforts.

  1. 6 X 3 mins fast, 90 secs slow  or in shorthand ....6x3’  @tempo [90” easy]
  2. 3 mins, 4 mins, 5 mins, 4 mins, 3 mins fast  with 2 mins slow in between each effort
  3.  6 X 4 mins fast, 2 mins slow
  4. 4 mins, 6 mins, 8 mins, 6 mins, 4 mins fast with 2 mins slow in between each effort
  5. 5 X 6 mins fast, 2 mins slow ....5x6’  @tempo [2’ easy]
  6. 3 X 8 mins fast, 2 mins slow ....3x8’  @tempo [2’ easy]
  7. 2 X 10 mins fast, 3 mins slow  ....2x10’  @tempo [3’ easy]

Once you are able to run the longer sessions whilst maintaining a consistent pace for each repetition you could progress to tempo runs where you build the duration from  20 minutes to 40 minutes and maybe more, if you are training for distances of marathon or longer. 

For elite runners focussing on marathons or longer this can be a key part of their training week.

A well paced tempo run is often easier than an interval or rep session as the intensity is lower, but the volume of work can be longer because of the lower intensity.

 aerobic base - or long slow run that builds economy and the ability to utilise fat as a fuel