Four Fun Tempo Run Workouts

By January 30, 2020Training

Tempo workouts are one of my favorite runs because you are running at an effort that feels strong, and can leave you feeling stronger after it is over.

In a nutshell…

The purpose of a tempo workout is to run at a sustained effort to build stamina and raise your red line (aka lactate threshold), the intensity at which you go from using a combination of fat and carbohydrates to only using carbs and the effort at which you go from using only aerobic metabolism to a combination of aerobic and oxygen-independent metabolism.

When you raise this threshold, you are able to run faster while using fat as a primary fuel source (you could run for days on fat) while preserving glycogen stores. Some runners also use a tempo workout to learn how to run at a consistent pace (race pace, for example).

Here are four fun tempo workouts geared to raising the roof on your threshold. Please note: I refer to the intensity of the workout via color, using yellow, orange and red zones. Learn what that means here. Tempo effort is best described as “comfortably hard” and just outside your comfort zone. It’s at the top of your orange zone and bottom of your red zone.

High Five Tempo Workout

This is a great workout for those that are new to running tempo’s because it breaks the tempo down into shorter segments. But don’t let that fool you, this is a challenging workout.

Total Time: 44 minutes

Warm-up walking 3 minutes

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 5 minutes.

Repeat 4 times:

Run at Tempo effort for 5 minutes followed by 2 minutes of easy jogging.

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 5 minutes.

Cooldown walking for 3 minutes.

Break It In Two Tempo Workout

This builds your stamina to run at this effort for longer ten-minute segments.

Total Time: 39 minutes

Warm-up walking 3 minutes

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 5 minutes.

Repeat 2 times:

Run at tempo effort for 10 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of easy jogging.

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 5 minutes.

Cooldown walking for 3 minutes.

The Classic Tempo Workout

This one is the most traditional of all the tempo workouts.

Total Time: 46 minutes

Warm-up walking 3 minutes

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 10 minutes.

Run at tempo effort for 20-30 minutes (start with 20 min).

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 10 minutes.

Cooldown walking for 3 minutes.

The Hilly Tempo Workout

This fun one teaches you how to run tempo effort on a hilly course to gain strength and stamina. Run this on a hilly course or hill program on a treadmill. The key is to keep your effort no greater than tempo effort on the uphills, and no less than on the downs. This means slowing on the ups, pushing on the downs.

Total Time: 46 minutes

Warm-up walking 3 minutes

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 10 minutes.

Run at tempo effort for 20-30 minutes (start with 20 min).

Run at an easy yellow zone effort for 10 minutes.

Cooldown walking for 3 minutes.

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