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Workout Of The Week: Know Your Tempo

  • By Mario Fraioli
  • Published Nov. 27, 2013
  • Updated Dec. 2, 2013 at 8:01 AM UTC
Photo: John Segesta

Practicing Pacing For 1/2 Marathon-Marathon

For those preparing for half marathons and marathons, tempo runs take on a slightly different twist in the final eight weeks before a peak race. Instead of shortening the length of the tempo run and increasing the intensity, I’ll actually have my athletes do just the opposite and extend most of their efforts to a higher percentage of the race distance. These workouts are run in very close proximity to goal race pace, and not much faster, to provide practice in proper pacing as well as to avoid overdoing it by going too far, too fast.

Half marathoners will gradually extend their weekly tempo run to eight miles (or up to 75 minutes at the same effort) at race pace 2-3 weeks out from their goal event, while my marathoners will work their way up to running the middle 13-16 miles (or up to 2-2.5 hours for slower runners) of their last long run at goal pace about three weeks before their peak race.

Practicing proper pacing is of the utmost importance when preparing for races longer than 10K, but in order to stimulate the different systems and improve overall efficiency, I’ll have my half marathoners and marathoners perform each others’ workouts every so often. Half marathoners will substitute some of their race-pace tempo runs with longer marathon-pace efforts of 10-12 miles, while marathoners will sometimes drop down in distance and do shorter tempo runs of up to 8 miles at half marathon pace.

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Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli

Mario Fraioli is a senior editor at Competitor magazine. A cross-country All-American at Stonehill College in 2003, he now coaches the Prado Women's Racing Team in San Diego and was the men's marathon coach for Costa Rica's 2012 Olympic team. His first book, The Official Rock 'n' Roll Guide To Marathon & Half-Marathon Training (VeloPress, 2013) is available in bookstores, running shops and online.

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