Tag Archives: tempo running

Tempo Running…Continuous Tempo

Tempo Running is NOT Speed Training Part 2


In Part One of the Tempo Running series we talked about and distinguished the difference between what speed training is and what tempo running consists of. Speed is defined as the ability to make body parts move through a given range of motion in the least amount of time. Speed is part of the Anaerobic (without oxygen) Energy System and is fueled by ATP-CP and has the ability to last anywhere from 4-7 seconds and are performed at high intensities from 90% and up. Tempo running is part of the Aerobic (with oxygen) Energy System and, just like speed, has various components to it in different categories. The Aerobic Energy System is fueled by an abundant energy source, oxygen, at low intensities from 40% to 85-90% and can last anywhere from 1 minute and 30 seconds to and through 2 hours long. Still with me so far? No! Falling asleep…


Hey, hey…wake up (scratches nails on a chalkboard)!


Now that I have your attention…


The low intensity type of tempo run is the Continuous Tempo run. It’s in the category of general endurance which means that it has no specificity to it and consists mainly of long steady state running in duration of 25-40 minutes. The intensity is low enough that the athletes should be running at what’s called ‘talk pace’ in that they should be able to talk to their training partners while running and if they can’t they the pace is too fast and too hard.


There aren’t many different types of ways to do Continuous tempo: 25-30 minutes of steady running, 30-40 minutes of steady running and of course fartlek running. Fartlek running will more than likely give you the most variation since that consists of run-jog combo’s. There is no right or wrong way to do fartlek runs. Just mix up running with slow jogging at varying paces at varying times and there you have it. For example, you can do 1 minute jog followed by 30 seconds of running, followed by 30 seconds of jogging followed by 20 seconds of running and on and on for 20-30 minutes straight.


However, these types of runs are optimal for oxygen rich blood which results in great cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory health in athletes and people in general. These types of runs are great at helping athletes recover and builds the base upon which specific and anaerobic work can be built…HOWEVER…these are not the type of runs I would recommend for sprinters.


Now, when I say sprinters, I’m referring to the 100-200-Sprint Hurdler-Horizontal and Vertical Jumpers. Notice I didn’t put in 400 or Long Sprint Hurdler!!! Now are they considered sprinters? Of course they are. The difference is the grey area they operate in when it comes to the Aerobic System and their event areas. Everyone agrees that the long sprint and long sprint hurdles have to develop some aerobic capacity for their respective events, the problem is how much and that’s a long standing question that isn’t answered easily.


For the long sprinters and hurdlers I, personally, would recommend at least once a week of Continuous Tempo runs of anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on their level of experience. I don’t have my athletes go over 20 minutes honestly, but I guess this would depend on how your training system is set up and what you believe in as far as getting athletes to lay a solid foundation for the long sprint and hurdle events. Since Continuous Tempo is great in aiding recovery then they should be done on a Recovery day and in my case that would be a Wednesday (Wednesdays are usually Active Recovery days in my training program) and after General Strength Circuits the long sprint athletes would for a 15-20 minute run.


For example: Preseason

Monday – Speed/Acceleration training/plyos

Tuesday – Circuit drills/Figure Eights (on grass)

Wednesday – General strength circuit/Continuous Tempo (15-20 minutes)

Thursday – Short Speed/Acceleration training/plyos

Friday – Extensive Tempo/Special Endurance

Saturday (if you’re into 6 days a week training) – Tempo (Continuous – 15-20 minutes)

Sunday – Complete Rest


Now the catch with that is the athletes have to try and cover or at least get as close to 2.5 miles as they can. These aren’t Cross Country runners so I can’t tell female sprinters to cover 3 miles or a 5k in 20 minutes! That’s just unrealistic! But if they can, hey, great for them and their aerobic capacity and the Specific work will be great, but for the sprinter that doesn’t love those long runs, it’s going to be a long…and I mean long…20 minutes! And if you practice 6 days a week then another day would be a Saturday for a long run or even Sunday before the week begins. This will continue to aid in recovery and help build their aerobic capacity for the long sprint events and the lactate work wont be as bad!


Now Lactate work…HAHAHA…that’s a whole nother (yes I said whole nother! Lol) topic…


Stay tuned!


Continue in knowledge my friends!




Tempo Running is NOT Speed Training!

I’m sure I’m going to ruffle some feathers with this series but here goes nothing:

Have you ever seen this workout or any of these workouts and seen it called ‘speed training’:


5-6x200m @goal pace. Rest: 45 seconds

4x400m @2-3 seconds faster than race pace. Rest: 2-3 minutes

4x400m @goal pace. Rest: 15-20 seconds

4-5x800m @5 seconds faster than race pace. Rest: 6 minutes


If you have seen these workouts then you know exactly how tough they are and how taxing they can be on the body and mind if you don’t make the goal pace times. But I have also seen these workouts labeled as ‘speed training’! Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble here, but that is NOT speed training! Just because you run really really super duper fast and faster than normal doesn’t mean that it has anything to do with speed.


Speed is defined as the ability to make body parts move through a given range of motion in the least amount of time. Speed is part of the ATP system which is called “free” energy and that free energy only last 4-7 seconds (maybe 8 if you’re lucky) and it includes a high intense effort for those 4-7 seconds that is not hindered by fatigue and bad technique. Speed is also part of the Anaerobic Alactic Energy System; meaning without oxygen for fuel for the muscles and without lactate. So the Anaerobic Alactic Energy System doesn’t use oxygen to fuel muscular activities and does it without the buildup of lactate but instead uses the free energy, ATP+CP, adenosine triphosphate+creatine phosphate, and is restored just by resting for long periods of time. Simple enough? Of course it’s not, it’s science! Still with me so far? Of course you’re not, it’s science!


Okay, now, go back and look at those workouts and I want you to tell me which of those workouts will last between 4-7 seconds at high intense (all out) effort with full recovery meaning recoveries of 8 minutes at least? Oh don’t worry, I’ll wait…… (cue the Jeopardy music)


Let me guess…the answer is…E! None of the above right! You got it! Now even though those workouts aren’t considered speed training they are considered something right? Of course they are. When you see a set pace for a number of reps for a length of distance then start to think about Tempo. Tempo is part of the Aerobic Energy System; meaning oxygen fuels the muscles and can do so for a very long time so long as the runs are at a low intensity. The workouts above are a different category such as race modeling and even touching on Special Endurance 1 or 2 but the rest times don’t line up with what’s needed to achieve quality runs so those workouts look like they just make athletes vomit honestly and they look like they do a great job of doing that!!!


Tempo running is a great way to build a solid foundation on which all specific intense work can be built. Tempo is broken up into 3 categories: Continuous Tempo (general endurance), Extensive Tempo and Intensive Tempo. Continuous is just that; continuous with a steady state of running at a low intensity for a long period of time such as 25-40 minutes of steady running or 30 minutes of fartlek work (run, jog combo’s).


Extensive Tempo is between 60-80% intensity and is usually used to help the muscles recover and help assist the muscles in the removal of lactic acid. These runs are done at the beginning of the training periods during the training week with high volumes of runs, over 100-200-300 even 400 meters in length with short recovery at a moderate pace.


Intensive Tempo is borderline Speed Endurance in that the intensity is 85% and up. The quality of the run is the focus of this tempo and the reps are kept low, usually 6-12 reps, and the volume isn’t very high, anywhere from 600-800m total.


Later I will give more examples of each Tempo so that you can see which is which and where to use each Tempo and what it does for you.


Continue in knowledge my friends!