What is a Tempo Run? By Chaim Wizman
Tempo runs are the bread and butter of the distance runner. This is because the tempo run is the most effective way to improve your lactate threshold which is the single most important physiological variable for endurance runners or any endurance event lasting more than thirty minutes. In fact, you will select your marathon pace based on preventing the accumulation of lactate (a byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism) in your muscles and blood. Your lactate threshold reflects both the ability of your heart to transport oxygen to your muscles and the rate at which your muscles can produce energy aerobically. Typically, lactate threshold occurs at 80-90% of your maximal heart rate. The formula for maximal heart rate (which is not always very accurate) is that your maximum heart rate is 220 BPM minus your age. Thus, if you are 40 years old, this would give you a maximum heart rate of about 180 BPM and your lactate threshold would be achieved at about 150 PBM.
So what is a tempo run? After warming up, it is one continuous run of between 20 and 40 minutes run at the pace that you could currently race for 1 hour. This corresponds to slightly faster than your half marathon pace. A faster runner with a lot of distance experience would run his tempo run at very near half marathon pace wherea a slower runner (who perhaps has never gone that distance) would run his tempo at about 10 seconds/km slower than 10k pace. The proper way to do a a tempo run is to maintain even pacing throughout, rather than run some of it fast and some of it slow. For this reason, it is preferable to do tempo runs on flat terrain which is always a challenge in Bet Shemesh.