Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tempo Run

I changed my training plan to only doing tempo pace (about 6min/km) in the weekdays training and long run at target marathon pace over the weekend. 3 to 4 workouts per week and all other days will fill with cross training on bicycle.

I made this adjustment because I am looking for an effective training approach to achieve my 2013 target to sub-5 in a full marathon. My PB for full marathon is 5:11 in 2012 SCKLM. Back then, I am doing fine all the way to 30k and lost the push after that. I think my WALL will be still around that same place this year if I follow the same training plan.

First I looked into the First Program, but it needs lots of discipline and more time for training (compared to my laid back easy training mode). I would say the program’s tag line of “Run Less, Run Faster” is very attractive, but the true is the time you saved from running less, you are spending them in cross training and core building now. I am totally agreed to the approach, but I got a very busy schedule this year so I decided to KIV…

Then I ran into the Yasso 800s. I spent few weeks on this speed work program, but it hurt! I put the blame on my running form / gaits, and the weak core muscles. These muscles and form is getting very hard to control after the first 800m @ 5min/km pace. Although the speed work repeats do improved my running strength but I don’t foresee I can last until the 10th repeats (maximum I did was 4 repeats only, so far), without injured myself! On the hindsight, I can’t connect the speed work to my marathon pace. I found it hard to go with my target marathon pace of 7min/km on my long run. I will normally started too fast and when bonk half way. Again, another KIV…

Then I came across this sharing in FB. It gave me an idea on how to build my training plan, and spend the limited time I had for quality training. I visited the McMillan site and calculated my current pace versus target pace. After analyze the number, I think I found the root cause for the inability to keep up with target pace came from lacking of Stamina, and the solution: Tempo Run. Tempo run aimed to perform the workout at certain level of effort (prefer at the lactate threshold level, which is 80-90% of max hearth rate). Fast but under control pace. I can spend time to adjust my form / gaits from time to time and reduce the risk of getting injured by going too fast. The key is to mix up the short-normal-long tempo run. My current level, short will be something less than 5k, normal is between 5-10k and long is more than 10k, in the tempo zone.

I started to trim down my training plan by removing the easy run and speed work. I don’t need to run very fast for a sub-5 marathon, and my half marathon result showing that I am fast enough for the 7min/km target pace. I used the short tempo run as one to one replacement to easy run, and normal length of tempo run for speed work. Ideally in 3 workouts weeks, I should do 1x short, 1x normal & 1x long run. In 4 workouts weeks, I should do 1x short, 1x normal, 1x long tempo and 1x long run. But I got limited time in the morning so it’s extremely challenging to perform a long tempo during weekday (so far I only got once).

Now I followed the new plan for about 3 months and I think I am doing the right thing. One significant improvement is on my ability to hold on to 7min target pace during my long runs. Will continue to following this home made training plan. The result in the next Marathon will tell.

Happy training!


  1. This is an interesting read Neoh.

    I was thinking of training more with tempo run myself, to prepare for my next marathon.

    Haven't started them properly yet, but after reading this post; I think I'm thinking (and heading) towards the right direction. :)

    1. There are no training plan that suit everyone, customize it to your own needs :)

      Just to simplify this,
      Do Speed work if you need speed.
      Do Tempo run if you need stamina.
      Do LSD if you need endurance.
      Do an easy run if you need to just clear your mind :P

  2. I'm a firm believer of the Hansons method 'to run fast, you first have to run slow'. I've seen improvements in leaps and bounds since I started on it. What's even more important is I've remained injury free with this programme.

    Anyways, keep up the good work and hope to run together more in the mornings.

    1. Nick,
      I can't seem to find Hanson's method online. Guess must buy the book?

    2. Interesting approach of Hanson's method. And the long run capped as low % of the weekly mileage seem to making lots of sense too. Will look for the book for more info.

      Lina, you can find some info in Runners World

    3. @Lina - Yeah, you have to get the book. They only have basic info online