Winter running part two: adding tempo runs

February 21st, 2014 by | Posted in Beginners, Blogs, Training Tips |

Winter tempo runs can be fun if you're prepared.

Earlier this week, I wrote about some winter running tips for beginning runners. Today, I’ll look at what a runner with a little more experience should do.

For those who have been running on their own for a while, or who are probably generally fit, and can run for an hour without much trouble, you can also greatly increase your running-specific fitness by merely running more easy runs and adding some short sprints to your regime. That said, you may not be able to do much more than you already are: five days each week of running, before or after work, with family responsibilities on the weekend could mean you don’t have time to do more. So if you can’t add more running, how can you optimize your training?

The first way is to start adding tempo runs. These runs are in that “faster distance running” zone, where you can run a good while, maybe 15 minutes up to 45 minutes if you are quite advanced, or if you are not going as fast. A 15 minute tempo run might correspond to your 10K or half-marathon pace. A longer tempo might be closer to 30K or marathon pace. You can put these tempo runs into your existing plan at the end of a run, so that you finish on a high note. As an example, after 30 minutes of jogging finish with 15 minutes of running at half-marathon pace for a total of 45 minutes on your feet, but you’ll stimulate your body a bit more and encourage improvements.

The tempo run also fits nicely with another staple of distance running, the long run. A long run is just as it sounds, a run that is longer than the rest. If you are not doing one of these every week or two, you should start. A long run is typically about 1.5 times the length of your regular run, or even 25 per cent of your total weekly mileage. So if you usually run 30 minutes, then a long run would be 45 minutes. If you usually run an hour, a long run would be 90 minutes. If you are training specifically for a longer event, like a marathon or a half-marathon, then you probably want to get your long run up to a solid two hours, or even three for the marathon. You can put the tempo run in as part of the long run, to break up the long outing with something quicker. You can also put it at the end.