Tempo Runs for Speed Development

Charlie Francis defined tempo running as running performed at 65-75% of maximal speed. Tempo runs have long been used in the training of sprint athletes to enhance speed training. Outside of sprint athletes, sprinting ability and speed is arguably the most important skill field-based athletes can possess. Yet many have never been introduced to tempo runs and why they can be invaluable to their speed training.

Tempo runs can serve as tool to increase speed for a number of reasons:

1) Tempo runs are based on volume that is critical in building specific adaptations relative to speed. Similar to building maximal strength, most training programs spend the bulk of the calendar year in the 75-85% 1RM range and athletes still get stronger due to the volume of training perform at those intensities. You don’t always have to train at or near your maximal strength to get stronger. Same is true for speed. You need to build volume to lay the foundation for increased maximal speed.

2) Due to the lower intensities, tempo runs aid in recovery from more intense speed training through aerobic metabolism pathways. Tempo runs improve capillary density, thus improving blood flow to our musculature and improving recovery.

3) Tempo runs are great for building aerobic and anaerobic-alactic capacity without interfering with power or speed development athletes require.

4) Including body weight exercises such as push-ups or a variety of abdominal movements during rest periods can heighten the cardiovascular conditioning response.

5) Different types of tempos and formats will depend upon the athlete and their specific needs. There is a plan and purpose behind their structure. In this video we have @makennagrieco performing tempos more specific to her needs as a 100m sprint athlete that is early in her general preparation phase.

As always hit us up with your questions.

For more related reading:

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4 Things You Need to Know About Improving Sports Performance

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Ultimate Runner’s Guide to Injury Prevention


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