by Martin John Trout

Our guide to speed-work has brought us fartlek, interval training and hill sessions, here in our last installment we look at tempo runs and how and when to incorporate them into our trail running training to help us become faster and stronger runners.

The four basic types of speed-work are

  • fartlek

  • interval training

  • hill sessions

  • tempo runs

Tempo Runs

What are they?

Tempo runs are extended running sessions at the lower end of the anaerobic zone.

How to incorporate them?

You should be running at a pace which feels comfortably hard and which you could probably hold from somewhere between 30 to 40’ (minutes).

More experienced runners may be able to hold this pace up to 50-60’.

Should I be running at race pace then?

No. As a rough guide the pace should be about 10-15”(seconds) slower per kilometer than your 10km pace. So if your 10km race pace is 5’15” you should be running at 5.05″ or at 5.00″ per kilometer.

How could I structure a session?

This kind of training session can be done as a single continuous session, for example a 20 to 30’ run, or maybe broken up into 2 or more fractions with relatively short active recovery. For example 2 x 15’ with 5’ active recovery or 3 x 10’ with 3 – 4’ active recovery would be typical sessions.

What does a tempo run benefit?

Improving your ability to run faster at these Vo2max type efforts will have a direct beneficial effect on your aerobic and endurance abilities.

So if you’re looking to improve your times at your next trail race, running short and fast at least once a week may well be the answer.


Martin John Trout Martin Trout is an all round Adventurer, an accomplished ultra runner, mountaineer, ski mountaineering instructor and trail running coach at Endurance Training in Progress. He’s been living in Italy since the 1990’s.