The Benefits of Tempo Runs for Speed and Strength
Tempo runs are an excellent way for runners to work to increase their speed and strength. These are races that are run at a constant level of effort, generally a little slower than the 10K race pace.
Tempo running helps develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold (LT), which is critical for running faster. LT is the point at which lactic acid (a byproduct of glucose metabolism) begins to accumulate in the muscles. A buildup of lactic acid in the muscles causes the fatigue and pain runners experience when they run hard. If you can increase your LT by running tempo runs, you can reduce lactic acid build-up and run faster without suffering from muscle fatigue.
Pace runs are also helpful in building the mental stamina and endurance needed for running, as you will practice running at a pace that is a bit outside of your comfort zone.
How to do tempo runs
Whether you are training for a 5K run or a long distance run like a marathon, pace runs are an important part of any training program, especially if you want to improve your running times. To start with time runs, start your run with a 5-10 minute easy warm-up, then continue with a 15-20 minute run about 10 seconds slower than your 10K pace. If you're running on a treadmill, it's easy to enter your pace into the machine. If you are running outdoors, you will need a GPS timing device, such as a Garmin, to keep track of your pace.
If you're unsure of your 10K pace or can't keep up, run at a pace that feels "comfortably difficult." You can also use your breath as a guide. For a smooth run, most runners take three steps while inhaling and two steps while exhaling. For tempo runs, you need to tap twice when inhaling and one tap when exhaling. If you breathe faster than that, your pace is too fast.
Tempo racing can be a mental challenge, so try some of these tips to dig deep and move forward. Tell yourself that going through race time will help you become a stronger and faster runner.
Finish with a 5-10 minute cool down. You can also do some stretching or yoga movements after your run.
Even a 15-20 minute weekly pace run is enough to make a profit, but some more advanced runners will do longer weekly pace runs of 40 minutes or more.
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