The Tempo Run also known as The Lactic Threshold Run

The Tempo Run also known as The Lactic Threshold Run

The tempo run. It’s a staple for many great runners. Why? Well, it teaches your body to run fast while handling all that evil lactic acid that builds up. If you don’t know what lactic acid is, it’s the stuff that invades your muscles and slows you down when you are working really hard.

The Tempo Run

To do this workout properly depends on what race you are preparing for. Traditionally, the tempo run is used to help you improve at distances from the 5k up to the marathon. Depending upon what race you run will determine the pace of your workout.

Before anything happens though, do your warm up run. This warm up run should be ten to twenty minutes long.

For this type of run, you can do a “rolling warm up” which means you go directly from the warm up into the tempo run. Don’t stop running. You just pick up the pace. Here’s a video explaining the finer points of a good tempo run.

Now, let’s find your correct pace. The pace should be quick, but sustainable for a longer period of time. Here is a good way to judge without using a watch. For a regular distance run you should be able to hold a conversation. During a lactic threshold run you probably can talk, but only in two to three word phrases, like, “I’m doing ok.” If you can’t talk at all, you are going too fast.

The other way to find your pace is based off of races you have run, or your goal times for a race.

1. 5k – 30 to 45 seconds slower than your average mile pace.
2. 10k – 15 to 30 seconds slower than average mile pace.
3. 1/2 Marathon – 5 to 15 seconds slower than average mile pace.
4. Marathon – The same pace as your goal marathon mile pace.
If this pace feels to fast, then relax a little bit. If you aren’t used to this type of workout, then work your way into it. Do each one of these runs two to three times and then move to the next level.

1. Run 1/2 mile at your tempo pace. Jog 1/4 of a mile. Repeat this 1/2 mile tempo, 1/4 jog three to five times.

2. Run 3/4 to 1 mile at your tempo pace. Jog 1/4 of a mile. Repeat this pattern three to five times.

3. Run 1 to 1 1/2 miles at your tempo pace. Jog 1/4 of a mile. Repeat this pattern two to four times.

4. Run continuously at tempo pace for 15 to 25 minutes.

That’s it. If you can work your way into this you’ll not only improve your endurance, but you’ll also feel comfortable running at your race speed. Don’t forget to cool down for 5 to 15 minutes after you finished.

Adding a run that is based on your tempo is a staple of marathon runners. If you are planning on training for a marathon soon, and want the best plan from day one of training to race day, I suggest the 100 Day Marathon Plan.

– Written by David Tiefenthaler

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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for In addition to running, he’s also an author, and a full time teacher.

You can follow David on Twitter @Tiefsa or visit his blog.

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