Tempo workouts are a staple for runners of every distance. If you are unfamiliar with tempo runs, they are designed to feel ‘easy/hard’ to help build your endurance. The marathon is tough, but tempo runs can help those who often struggle in the late stages of the race feel more confident about maintaining their race pace.

Runners at the 2021 Georgina Marathon. Photo: Edison Yao

In case you are unsure of how hard a tempo run should feel, you should be able to answer a question or hold a short conversation mid-workout. Ask yourself, “Is this pace OK?” If you feel like it’s not, it’s a sign you are going too fast, and could dial it back slightly so you can maintain it longer.

The workout

Five mins, 10 mins, 15 mins, 15mins, 10mins, five mins (all off two minutes’ slow jog rest)

The workout should be run at a slightly faster pace than your goal marathon pace. For example, if your marathon goal is running under four hours (which would mean you’d need to maintain an average pace of 5:40/km), you should run your tempos at 10 to 15 seconds faster per kilometre (5:25-5:30/km).

Treat the two minutes’ rest between reps as a slow jog or walk. Jogging the rest will help you add additional volume to your weekly training mileage. After each rep, focus on your breathing and stay relaxed before starting the next.

It is essential to hit the paces for the first three reps of this workout to help you finish the last three reps at a slightly faster pace.

After you complete the workout, you can calculate your average pace through the 60 minutes of tempo to determine your potential for the first half of the marathon. Add 10 to 15 seconds per kilometre to the average pace, to give you a rough estimate of how fast you should go out in the first half of the race.

Make sure to include a 15- to 20-minute warmup before starting the workout. 

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