Running Wednesday: My Favorite Tempo Workout

A couple weeks ago I shared my favorite pure speed workout. Intervals are great for increasing VO2 Max, improving form, and working on specific speed related issues, like your finishing kick and leg turnover. Today, we’re talking about lactate threshold runs. They are also called tempo runs.

Tempo Workout

Your lactate threshold is the point at which your body cannot keep up with processing the lactic acid it produces during hard exercise and responds by needing to slow down. This type of workout usually involves slightly longer intervals than the VO2 Max workouts, run at a slightly slower pace, your lactate threshold pace. This is a little slower than your 10k pace, or about 85-90% of your effort level. You’ll find a more detailed description in this post.

Steady Pace Tempo Workout

My favorite workout of this type is a Steady Pace Tempo run. After warming up by running moderately for about a mile, pick it up to your Lactate Threshold pace. Sustain it for two-six miles. Finish with a moderate to slow mile.

Tempo Workout 2

Why I love it: I sounds kind of boring, doesn’t it? No fancy pick ups, run this at one pace that at another. Which is exactly why this is my favorite tempo run. To me it simulates race conditions. You don’t stop (hopefully) in a race, you try to keep a fairly steady pace throughout the distance of the run.

Tempo Run Variations

Depending on the distance for which you are training, you may want to change up the tempo run a little bit. For example, if you are training for a marathon, complete this workout at about your half marathon pace and effort, and sustain it for five to eight miles. Likewise, if you’re training for a half marathon, run at your 15k pace, for three to six miles.

Another variation for marathon or half marathon training is a race pace run. In this type of run, you will run the middle portion of a longer run at your goal race pace. For a marathon, this could be the middle 12-15 miles of a 20 miler. For the half, run six to eight miles at race pace in your 10-12 mile run. This will really help with pacing during your race.

Tempo runs can help you run faster, and help you sustain that speed for a longer period of time. Which is what we want when we’re racing, right?

I’m linking up with Annmarie for Wild Workout Wednesday!

Wild Workout Wednesday

Disclaimer: Although I am a certified Coach and Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Coach or Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

Do you do tempo runs? Do you have a favorite workout?

Weekly Training Recap: La Jolla Half Marathon Week 3

I ran a 5k this week! Totally not on the training plan, in fact I wasn’t sure whether I was going to run until I signed up the morning of the race. I asked for advice last week, with the options of following my training plan and running my long run along the Palm Springs Half Marathon course while Alan was announcing, or doing my long run on Saturday and running the 5k on Sunday. Several of you chose the first option, and that was really what I thought I would do. That is, until circumstances put us in Encinitas on Saturday morning, a clear, beautiful (if cold) Saturday morning, and neither of us could resist taking a long run along the coast. More on the circumstances later, in the meantime, here is my weekly training recap.

Strength Training

I started out this week feeling pretty tired. I guess when you haven’t trained seriously for a while it takes your body a while to adapt. Therefore, my Fast and Furious class lucked out on Monday. Yes, we did a workout, and yes, it was tough, but I kept it a little lighter than normal. I found that I couldn’t even do my pushups and had to drop to my knees from the very first set. Pooped.

My Tuesday class is Superball, and I took it a little easy there, too. In fact, as far as strength training goes, I took it easy all the way through Thursday. I did teach a stretch class, which I loved because I really needed it. For my Thursday ball class, I went with a circuit format, where I instruct and the class moves from station to station. Check them out below. They are all over 50, most of them are over 60, and a few of them are in their 70s.

Finally, when Friday rolled around I was feeling much recovered and stronger. So my class was treated to a much tougher workout. That’s okay, I did it with them.

weekly training recap


Total fail on the yoga this week. I don’t know if you’ll call them reasons or excuses, but between feeling exhausted on Wednesday (though I completed my scheduled run), out of town with a purpose on Saturday, and a race on Sunday, I just didn’t get to practice at all. I am not happy with myself, so I plan to do better this week. I really need the combination of regular strength training plus yoga not only to get stronger, but for the balance, flexibility, and psychological benefits.


I had much more success in my running than my yoga. I got all my workouts in, though, as mentioned above, I switched the long run to Saturday. Maybe I should think about revamping my training plan? With intervals on the track scheduled to start in week five, my weekend running will consist of my long run and my tempo run. I have it scheduled tempo on Saturday, long on Sunday. Not sure if that’s best. What do you think?

My Tuesday run is currently scheduled to be short and moderately paced. Alan and I ran together, and we got a late start. I have to be at work by 8:00 and I was feeling the pressure, so the second half of our run (all downhill) kind of turned into a speed workout. The average pace was 10:00 per mile, but the first uphill 1.5 miles took 16.5 minutes, the downhill half took 13.5 minutes. So we were pushing it a little.

On Wednesday, currently my scheduled tempo run day, I woke in the middle of the night with a headache. I took my migraine medicine, but it made me feel sleepy and draggy in the morning, plus my head still hurt a little. Nevertheless, I dragged myself out for six miles on the road with two one-mile intervals at about a 9:20 pace, and two half-mile intervals, one we won’t speak about because it was uphill and oh so slow and painful, the other downhill about about an 8:40 pace. Not setting any records, but pleased that I got the workout in.

On Friday, Alan and I drove to Encinitas. So as not to clutter up this training recap, I will write about it in a separate post, but let me just say we drove there through rain, snow, and hail, and we ate some awesome vegan food.

weekly training recap

This is Beaumont. At about 2,500 feet elevation, it doesn’t usually get much snow.

weekly training recap

I finally tried the Native Reuben at the just opened Native Foods in Encinitas.

And I got to see this guy…

weekly training recap

10 weeks old!

More on all of that later. Back to the training. Saturday morning, Alan and I got out on the run a little after 8:00. Neither of us was feeling very perky for the first few miles, but we resisted the urge to turn around. It was so beautiful. It was hard to believe the crazy weather of the day before. It was very cold though.

weekly training recap

weekly training recap

weekly training recap

By the turn around point we felt much better, and managed to finish much stronger than we started out. I was happy to have my long run done for the week, but now I knew what I needed to do. Go racing!

weekly training recap

 Because Alan is the announcer for the Palm Springs Half Marathon and 5k, we had to be at the venue by about 5:30 (for a 7:00 race). It was pretty cold in the morning, but at least there was no wind or rain. I quickly got out and went to sign up for the 5k before I could change my mind and snuggle in the car for a long nap. As soon as I picked up my race packet, though, I headed back to the car to wait until it was time to warm up for the race.

weekly training recap

After my slow start the day before, I thought I’d better run at least a mile to warm up. So, I finally dragged myself out of the car and took a jog around the park where the race takes place. I stopped in time to watch the half marathoners take off (the 5k started at 7:15).

weekly training recap

Then it was time. I really had no idea what to expect. It had been ages since I had run a 5k. In fact, I realized that this was my first race in my 55-59 age division. Finally! A baby again. (Side note: Do you know what is really cool (or scary, depending on how you look at it)? I googled my name along with “5k race results,” and I found this page, with many of my race results dating back to 1999 (including my marathon PR that year in St. George), though the first entry, California International Marathon 1995, is not me (it’s before I ever ran my first marathon.))

After the gun went off, I started running at what felt like a moderate pace. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my Garmin and it said I was running a 7:43 mile. Whoa, girl. I pulled it back and finished the first mile in 8:52. Not bad. I kept it steady through mile two, and ran about the same time. I was still feeling good in mile three, so I let myself go a little. My heartrate was steady, so I picked up the pace a bit and held it all the way to the finish. I was pleased to see I’d finished in 26:55 (26:48 on my Garmin). I was really happy to come in under 27 minutes. As it turned out, I was second in my new age group. Since it’s been a while since I’ve taken home any bling, I was pretty proud of my award.

weekly training recap

I spent the rest of the morning (while Alan worked) socializing with all the running friends I don’t see very often. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Kalli, who blogs over at Fit and Fortysomething. She was in town for the half marathon and we’d hoped to meet up. It just didn’t happen. Hopefully next time!  I even won a raffle prize (see the necklace in the photo above)!

The raffle was held as a fundraiser for my friend Jeff Rasmussen. If you remember, he was stricken with brain cancer, survived surgery they said he’d never survive, and is continuing his amazing fight.  I’m going to write a follow up post about Jeff and his fiancee, Amy, but if you want to see something amazing and uplifting, check out these two after the race. Did I mention that he ran the 5k? Oh yes, he did.

And yes, he ran the 5k in his turtle costume. Gangnam style. You can begin to understand the spirit that has helped him survive so far.

I decided to tweak my plan a little to add another 5k. This one is toward the end of March, on almost the same course. I’m hoping I will see a significant increase in my speed (presuming, of course, that I have completed all my training workouts as scheduled). In the meantime, the only change in the coming week is an increase in my long run. I do try for variety in my tempo runs, though, and I will get to yoga at least twice.  In any case, here is my workout log:

Weekly Recap 3

Now, I would love to hear about your training week. Did you do any races. Rides?