Want to beat the masses at your next 5k, 10k or half? If you are a competitive runner, you know you get your edge from making incremental improvements in your training. TEMPO RUNS are the solution to a lot of training plateaus because they teach the body how to efficiently metabolize oxygen.
Try this TEMPO RUN and see where you stand:
1. WARM UP for 1 MILE with a JOG pace (40-50% max speed)
2. SPRINT 1 MIN (90% of your max speed)
3. RACE PACE 2 MIN (60-70% max speed)
4. Alternate, 1 MIN SPRINT, 2 MIN RACE PACE for 20 min
5. COOL DOWN with a 1 MILE JOG pace
Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. Most runners have trained their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles…but they haven’t trained their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.
How? By increasing your lactate threshold (LT), or the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace. During tempo runs, lactate and hydrogen ions—by-products of metabolism—are released into the muscles. The ions make the muscles acidic, eventually leading to fatigue. The better trained you become, the higher you push your “threshold,” meaning your muscles become better at using these byproducts. The result is less-acidic muscles (that is, muscles that haven’t reached their new “threshold”), so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster.