Although a tempo run is a crucial component of the training diet, few individuals are aware of the particular ingredients and their benefits. This sort of exercise frequently appears in training programmes for good reason: mastering tempo running can help you long-term, especially on race day. However, tempo training's numerous advantages can be undermined by improper execution. Here is all the information you require on the tempo run.


They go by a variety of titles, including tempo runs, threshold runs, and T-runs. A "tempo run" is one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts in the running community even though they are essentially the cornerstone of every training programme. Tempo runs are a very specialized sort of training that is sure to increase your endurance and enable your body to go faster for longer periods. They are not simply quick runs in general. We're here to clear things up, define tempo runs precisely, and explain why the science behind them makes them such an important component of your training regimen. 

What is a tempo run?

Running at a tempo is one kind of speed exercise. Even though they have different objectives, fartlek and interval exercises belong in the same category as this one.

Whether you're training for a 5k or a half marathon, a tempo run generally refers to a prolonged effort run that increases your body's capacity to run faster for longer periods.

The general rule is to select a pace that you can keep up for at least 20 minutes, but ideally for 45 to 60 minutes. You should be quick, but avoid running at full speed. If you were to think of it in terms of effort, where one was walking slowly, you would seek a pace that felt like a 6–8 effort.

Consider this workout to be "comfortably hard." Even if you wouldn't want to do it for hours on end, you won't be out of breath after only 10 minutes.

Advantages of tempo runs 

Improves Mental Endurance

For many people, running can provide limits and challenges, but research indicates that overcoming these barriers fosters mental endurance. An examination of the research on the connection between running and mental health revealed that the activity helps with depression and anxiety problems while also elevating mood, which can improve long-term mental endurance.

Studies have shown that self-identified runners had lower levels of depression, pointing to a beneficial relationship between self-esteem and psychological coping.

Increases Overall Speed

A buildup of lactic acid in the muscles can result in fatigue and pain, which can impair exercise output or pace. Temporary running raises your anaerobic or lactate threshold, which will ultimately enable you to run faster as less lactic acid buildup slows you down.

Builds Cardio Endurance

Tempo runs can assist your body in building cardiovascular endurance. According to a study, those who adhere to a certain programme for an extended period see an improvement in their aerobic capacity.

Your VO2 max, which gauges the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use while exercising, will rise as a result of increasing your endurance. As a measure of general fitness, your level of endurance should increase as your VO2 max threshold does.

Can Improve Focus & Mood

Imagine what a 20–40 minute tempo run may do for your mental toughness and endurance given that even brief periods of training have this effect. An actual phenomenon, supported by a new study on the advantages of moderate jogging, is running to clear your thoughts. It was discovered that this kind of exercise not only improves arousal levels and mood compared to a non-running control group but also fosters cognition.

How to do tempo running?

There are different tempo runs. The only true criterion is to maintain a constant, predetermined pace for a predetermined period. In addition, you have a lot of flexibility in how you decide to add a tempo run session to your training regimen. No matter whatever training programme you choose, always stretch to lower your chance of injury and stay hydrated to avoid getting dehydrated on intense routes.

Blocks or distance can be used to organise your prolonged tempo run programme, but the catch is that you can't take a rest in the middle of your threshold time. It might resemble:

Warm up — 10:00
Easy — 2 miles
Tempo — 3 miles
Easy — 2 miles
Cool down — 10:00

Running a steep tempo run might help you build strength and endurance if you compete in cross-country races. The secret is to keep your effort at tempo run pace uphill and at tempo run pace downhill, which calls for you to speed up and slow down appropriately:

Warm up — 5:00
Easy — 10:00
Tempo on a hill — 20:00
Easy — 10:00
Cool down — 5:00

Late-stage marathoners may incorporate two intervals of tempo running into their long runs on a biweekly basis. For instance:

Warm up — 10:00
Tempo — 20:00
Easy — 1:00:00
Tempo — 20:00
Cool down — 10:00

Try out these tempo workouts

Beginner cruise intervals

Cruise intervals are tempo runs with periodic rest intervals of 30 to 60 seconds (for example, every mile or 10 minutes). This pattern allows for a higher volume of exercise while maintaining the aerobic advantages and may assist prevent overly rapid pace, which can result in injury or burnout.

Start with these intervals if you're new to tempo running because the effort is divided up.

  • 1 mile at a tempo pace
  • Walk or rest for 60 secs
  • Repeat tempo and recovery intervals two to four times

The classic

This is a standard tempo session with a warm-up, a sustained length of time spent at tempo effort, and a cool-down at the conclusion.

  • 10 mins at an easy pace
  • 20 mins at a tempo pace
  • 10 mins at an easy pace

Tempo session for marathon runners

Pfitzinger suggests including tempo runs on an easy one-hour run if you have a 26.2-mile race coming up. In the last stages of race preparation, but long before the taper, perform this every two weeks.

  • 20 mins at a tempo pace
  • 20 mins at an easy pace
  • 20 mins at a tempo pace

Safety Tips

Safety and injury avoidance is essential whether you're running on the treadmill inside or outside. Always be aware of where you're going, and keep your phone close by in case the plan needs to be changed. Watch your step when walking on uneven ground because loose rocks or slick areas can easily twist or sprain your ankle.

Additionally, it's crucial to dress for the weather by layering up when it's chilly and donning lighter attire, like shorts and t-shirts, when it's warmer—as well as using sunscreen if the sun is out. Additionally, it's critical to avoid dehydration by running in the summer during the hottest parts of the day, when the sun's rays are most intense. 

During your tempo run, stop as soon as you feel faint, dizzy, have a stitch, or are simply out of breath. Slow down to a walk to cool down your muscles and get your heart rate back to normal. Use common sense if anything doesn't feel right during tempo runs; they should feel difficult but not overly intense.


Tempo running is an efficient kind of cardio with both mental and physical advantages that can help you increase your endurance, speed, and distance over time. The most crucial thing is to pay attention to your body and stop exercising if you feel any aches or discomfort. No matter what kind of running you prefer, preventing injuries is the key to improving your training.

Frequently asked questions

What is a good tempo for running? 

Determine how long it will take you to run one mile at a comfortable pace to start. From there, you can save a playlist in beats per minute that replicates this tempo (BMP). Exercise music at 150 BMP, for instance, would be necessary for a 10-minute mile. 

How long should the rest be between tempo runs?

Typically, a tempo run lasts for at least 20 minutes. You can run at a tempo pace for up to 40 minutes or more. To avoid overstressing a runner, it is preferable to alternate two 20-minute stints with a 2-minute break during these longer tempo runs.

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