Tempo Runs

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Captainblood
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Tempo Runs

Post by Captainblood » Thu May 21, 2015 8:50 am

It's been pretty quiet so I thought it would be interesting to discuss what many consider one of the most important workouts. I have read a lot of ideas on tempo runs on this site as well as in books. Tom has chimed in quite a bit and I have learned a lot (especially interesting are discussions regarding lactate levels at different paces). Here are a few ideas about tempo runs.

Feel free to discuss (or debunk) any of these ideas on tempo runs. Some of these ideas will contradict each other. If you have any particular tempo workout that is your bread and butter for a particular distance please share.

* 20 minutes is the ideal tempo run length

* A runner needs a certain amount of time at tempo pace per week to maintain past gains

* Your tempo run distance should increase for longer race distances

* Gains from a 20 minute tempo run are the same as a 40 minute tempo run at a slightly slower pace

* Tempo runs and cruise intervals will produce similar gains, however cruise intervals are less stressful on the body

* Tempo runs will lose their effectiveness if they are run week after week at the same distance and pace

Josh1
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Re: Tempo Runs

Post by Josh1 » Thu May 21, 2015 11:25 am

I've read that your last point is true, but I would like to better understand why repeating the same tempo workout(s) week after week stalls gains in stamina. I'm a creature of habit and have a hard time changing things up sometimes - this is something I need to work on, personally, in my training.

dilluh
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Re: Tempo Runs

Post by dilluh » Thu May 21, 2015 12:46 pm

* In the spirit of Lydiard I find that letting the tempo pace dictate itself by way of "going out and enjoying yourself" to be the best guide when one is not very fit (me right now). I often do not pay attention to the pace in this situation and just make a note of it at the end of the run in order to track weekly progression. As I get more fit, the tempo pace naturally starts to line up more closely with what many of us around here call "Tinman Tempo" pace.

* I've observed that a lot of low fitness or low aerobic capacity runners run their tempo runs way too fast. I've seen plenty of them running 20 minute tempo runs at their current 10k pace.

* When fit, I find switching between longer easy tempos and shorter faster tempos every few weeks to be useful in avoiding staleness.

* Tinman's take on the usefulness of very long tempo runs at more moderate (but still fast) pace is very apt. You are likely getting a similar physiological response but you pay a price with all of the extra pounding associated with the longer run. There are perhaps a few situations where these long tempo runs may be useful such as high-level marathon preparation. Even then, caution has to be heeded in the frequency of these types of tempo runs and the spacing between workouts. Mostly it's just more efficient to run them at the quicker pace for shorter time. Again, with the large caveat that you are fit enough for that faster tempo pace to begin with.

Tchuck
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Re: Tempo Runs

Post by Tchuck » Tue May 26, 2015 2:23 pm

I think a big issue for many as mentioned previously is running them too fast. Many are focused on goal pace or goal race pace vs what your current level of fitness is. Also, many/most view harder as better. When I give advice, I tell a runner to do a progressive faster tempo run. For a traditional tempo, I would say jog 10 minutes and then do a progression of pace fover the next 30 minutes from marathon to where you may be at 10K goal pace the last 5 min.

For longer events like a marathon, I may say do an 45 min - hour with a progression from moderate pace to 10K effort only at the end. The benefit of tempo reps or cruise intervals, is that if you run one or the first one too hard, you can bounce back the next rep at normal pace and still end up with a productive work out. They all have their place and I feel it is wise to mix it up.

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Re: Tempo Runs

Post by Tinman » Tue May 26, 2015 10:34 pm

Tempos can vary from short to long duration, but as a general rule, in my opinion, should be in the range of 75-85% of V.O2 max equivalent, as I call it. That's basically an upper moderate intensity to :threshold" equivalent intensity. How long you run a tempo depends upon many factors, a few of which are listed below, based on my training system:

A) Intensity of the tempo run (faster/harder efforts require you to run shorter duration);
B) Fitness level, especially your aerobic endurance and stamina;
C) The duration of your goal race event;
D) How many weeks you are away from your goal event;
E) Whether you like tempos or not;
F) Whether the stride pattern for the tempo fits you naturally;
G) Whether or not you benefit from tempos (some people benefit more than others)

And so on. There's long list that I generated and use to coach my clients. That list is used to determine when, if, and how they do or even avoid tempos.

As always, if you are planning your own training, it's important to keep both the long and short-term in mind. If you watch other sports beside running, particularly team sports, you may appreciate master coaches who know when to utilize plays or players. It's not always a good idea to go for broke and attack with your best plays or players for they may become exhausted before the game concludes.

A wise coach sits key players at times during games. The skillful coach sequences plays that his or her players execute. The strategy employed throughout the game varies with the skills of the players, the opponents skill sets, fatigue, etc. It's a big deal to know the many details of how all the factors interact, in order to coach a team successfully. Likewise, it's essential to know how all the various training tools a runners may use fit into the progression and plan. Furthermore, it's necessary to know the key principles which provide a baseline for making adjustments on the fly.

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dilluh
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Re: Tempo Runs

Post by dilluh » Wed May 27, 2015 6:34 pm

Tinman wrote: As always, if you are planning your own training, it's important to keep both the long and short-term in mind. If you watch other sports beside running, particularly team sports, you may appreciate master coaches who know when to utilize plays or players. It's not always a good idea to go for broke and attack with your best plays or players for they may become exhausted before the game concludes.

A wise coach sits key players at times during games. The skillful coach sequences plays that his or her players execute. The strategy employed throughout the game varies with the skills of the players, the opponents skill sets, fatigue, etc. It's a big deal to know the many details of how all the factors interact, in order to coach a team successfully. Likewise, it's essential to know how all the various training tools a runners may use fit into the progression and plan. Furthermore, it's necessary to know the key principles which provide a baseline for making adjustments on the fly.
Great stuff Tom. This is dead on and I think a key piece that many don't get. So many runners want the magical workout or the right workout when often they should be looking at a calendar and deciding how far away their key race is and how to best link together a progressive string of workouts that build up and complement each other to get to that key race in top form. By building up workouts over time it's much more likely that you'll keep the ball rolling. This was exactly the case for me when I prepped for my most recent marathon using a Tinman customized schedule. I started the marathon training with basically zero running fitness and progressed from a 5x1200 LT session to a continuous 5 mile LT run near the end of the training but the progression of workouts was so seamless and complementary that they didn't seem any harder week to week.

To Tom's point of determining workouts that work well with your stride - he honed in on this when I told him that LT pace just felt "right" during workouts. Conversely, I know that I do not like running reps on the track at 5k pace because it doesn't feel natural and I tend to recover more slowly from those workouts. If I do a 5k-paced workout, it is strategic and I give myself an extra day or two of easy pace runs beyond what I'd normally take. All this knowledge comes from being honest with yourself and taking good notes or hiring a good coach (who will be honest with you and take good notes :D ).

Captainblood
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Re: Tempo Runs

Post by Captainblood » Thu May 28, 2015 8:39 am

Tom's schedules have taught me a lot about training. As Dilluh wrote, Tom's schedules follow a progression of training. In my case, the training starts out pretty easy in the early stages. But each "workout" builds to the next week's workout which is a little more challenging. A few weeks later a workout that seemed like it would be pretty tough ends up being very manageable.

Now coming back to tempo runs I have experimented with various lengths and combinations. In one race buildup (5k) I alternated 40 and 60 minute tempo runs (with great success). Other buildups I only used 40 and 20 minute tempos or sometimes solely 20 minute tempos.

It is hard to wrap my head around the fact that a 40 minute tempo at 6:30/mi pace is having the same training effect as a 20 minute tempo at 6:15. But I do understand that a 40 minute tempo is a little harder on the body than the 20 minute variety (a 10k requires a bit more recovery than a 5k afterall).

And as far as running the same distance tempo at the same pace every week I think that is more of a maintenance program. After a few weeks that tempo should begin to feel easier and there will be less fitness gains. I know Daniels recommends keeping it the same for 3 weeks and if the tempo begins to feel too easy then it is okay to speed it up a bit. But this is just my interpretation of what I have read. Training is part art and part science so I am always trying to learn more.

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