Workout Of The Week: Know Your Tempo

Photo: John Segesta

Shifting Speeds For 5K-10K

Inside eight weeks of a goal race, a shift in the speed (and distance) of the weekly tempo run occurs, the specific nature of which depends on the athlete’s goal race distance. For my 5K and 10K runners, the classic 4-6 mile tempo run at roughly half-marathon pace will get shortened to 3 miles at 10K race pace on occasion during the four to eight weeks prior to a peak event. I’ll often have athletes finish up these types of workouts with 4-8 x 200 meters at mile to 5K race pace (or 30 to 60-second pickups at a similar effort) with equal recovery to work on turnover and simulate running hard at the end of a race.

During the final four weeks before a race, we’ll keep some variation of the aforementioned sustained tempo efforts in the rotation every 10 days or so (as aerobic maintenance-type workouts), while also getting more specific with 5K-10K interval work. For example, instead of a faster 3-mile tempo run at 10K race pace, we’ll run longer intervals such as 2-3 x 2 miles at 10K race pace with 3 to 4 minutes rest in between. Or, we might do two 1.5-mile intervals at 5K race pace (or 7-12 minutes at the same effort) with 5 minutes of recovery in between. These longer, fast intervals help an athlete get race ready and firing on all cylinders at just the right time, and are most effective when preceded by months of regular, strength-building tempo runs.

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