Tempo Runs for Beginners

By Rick Morris

Your first steps as a beginning runner were probably either walking or a combination of walking and easy running. Then you most likely graduated to longer and longer easy running sessions. The next logical step in your beginning runner training progression are moderate distance runs performed at a faster, moderately hard pace. This type of training workout, which is commonly called tempo training, will begin to improve your stamina or your ability to hold onto a quality pace for longer periods of time. Tempo runs for beginners is a good way to start.

More advanced runners will often go out for long tempo runs of 45 minutes or more. As a new runner you should begin with more basic level tempo training workouts. Here are a few beginning level tempo training workouts to get you started. Perform your tempo workouts at a pace that feels moderate to moderately hard. On a scale of 1 to 10 they should fall somewhere around a 6 to 7 in perceived exertion.

Beginning Tempo Fartlek

Fartlek is a Swedish work that basically means speed play. A fartlek workout is a fun, unstructured training run in which you change your pace at will. You just have fun with your training run. For this beginning tempo fartlek workout, run for 15 minutes alternating between an easy pace and tempo pace. Change your pace at will, there are no rules. The only guideline is to try to change pace fairly frequently. Every time you do this workout increase the duration up to about 40 minutes.

Classic Tempo Training

The classic tempo training workout is one in which you run at a steady tempo pace throughout your training run. For your first attempt at classic tempo training, run 15 minutes at tempo pace. Gradually increase the duration of your tempo workout as your fitness level increases. A good duration goal to shoot for is 45 minutes.

Beginning Tempo Compound Sets

A compound set is a type of workout in which you combine two paces and distances into one set. The sets are then repeated for a predetermined number of times. For your first beginning tempo compound set, warm up with enough easy running to elevate your heart rate and thoroughly warm up your muscles. Then run 400 meters at a very hard pace before slowing down to your tempo pace for 1200 meters. Rest for 4 minutes and then repeat that set 2 more times for a total of three compound sets.