Last Updated on November 5, 2011 by Jimson Lee
This article is a continuation of Training for 400m: Balancing Speed and Special Endurance [Lactate]
There has been confusion over the terminology of the “Tempo Workout”. For 800 meter and distance runners, a tempo run is completely different than a Sprinter’s tempo workout.
See also: Optimal Speed and Tempo Runs
A tempo workout is low intensity sprinting speeds between 65% and 70%. So a 100m tempo run for a 11 sec 100m runner is between 15-17 seconds. If you are using a running start (i.e. run 110m, time last 100m), and subtract 1 sec for acceleration, then 14-15 seconds is normal for these tempo runs.
As always, try to do these runs with regular training flats on a grass surface (speeds will depend on levelness and moisture).
Some hardcore athletes like to do these barefoot or with Vibram 5-fingers, but I’ll save that rant for another day.
Of course, use common sense, too. If you just ran a personal best or did a huge speed endurance session and feel the “CNS hangover”, then don’t be afraid to go 60%. Let your body decide.
should must watch these runs, as it’s a good check for biomechanical issues (i.e. slight limp, favoring one side over another, pelvis issues, etc.). As well, the athlete should be conscious of having good form, too!
Tempo workouts are usually performed on “easy days" days as discussed in Training for 400m: Balancing Speed and Special Endurance [Lactate].
Recovery in Tempo Workouts
For a sprinter, when I say tempo workout, it also means turnarounds or greyhounds, and you’ll know why in a minute.
For a long recovery, you can walk 100m (or the distance ran). If you are training on a football or soccer infield, then you can walk across the other end of the field for 50m.
If you want a short recovery to work on your aerobic component, you can simply slow down 10m, stop, turnaround, walk 10m to the “start line”, and go again. Hence the name “turnaround”. Watch out, as this will surprise beginners on how much you’ll be sucking air!
Volume & Variations
For extra fitness (and to melt the fat away for chubby athletes), add 10 push ups on one end, 15 sit-ups or crunches on the other end.
We try to strive for 2000 meters of volume for sprinters, but our 400m runners do up to 3000 meters which is 3km of “high quality running". This can be either (for 2000m example):
- 2 sets of 10 x 100m
- 10 x 200
- 7 x 300
- other variations (see below)
Other variations include:
The Big Circuit (distances denote 100m)
- total volume 2200m. You can do turnarounds between reps and walk 100m between sets.
The Small Circuit
- total volume 1100m
As you can see by the volumes and recoveries, there is no need for the Saturday 7 miler or the 6am 30 minute runs like some coaches prescribe for 400 meters. However, 800 meter runners are a different story.
Thanks for this.
So the coach I just started working with has structured my tempo work outs as follows (Note: I was recently diagnosed with over-training syndrome, so this workout is more for my recovery than it is for the 400m at the moment), and here is how he’s structured them:
I run 100m @ 70-75%
I have on a heart rate monitor and I wait for my heart rate to go down below 120.
I go again and keep doing it for 30 minutes.
Most of the local soccer fields are being used for well soccer at the time, so I did it on a local dirt track as it’s still softer surface than the local all weather.
It’s interesting in that you feel like you got in a good workout, but nothing that is going to have you feeling sore the next day.
Jimson Lee says
@Markham, these are challenging workouts, but within 20 minutes upon completion, you feel refreshed and feel good about yourself. Most importantly, it’s a good time for a coach/physio to watch how you look the DAY AFTER a tough workout, making sure there are no biomechanical issues.
Why is not tempo workout (as recovery) suffienct for 800m runners? If the total volume remains the same on the recovery day?
And why is tempo running better than continous jogging for sprinter/long sprinters?
I found the technique aspect to be valuable as well, I really focus on running efficiently and smooth. Getting to that point of perfect form even when you’re tired.
My coach actually has me running tempo runs AND a 40 minute run as well, I’m assuming the benefit with the tempo is that your heart rate goes up higher when you’re running, as opposed to a continuous when you’re pretty steady.
Plus you can’t work on your sprint form when you’re running distance.
paul graham says
A bit off topic, but do you know why running drills are called “A-skip”, “A-run”, “B-skip” e.t.c
Jimson Lee says
The drills are from Gerard Mach, Polish sprinter turned Canadian Sprint Coach.