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Four tempo sessions you can fit in at lunch


Life can be ridiculously busy at the best of times, and even the most dedicated runner will have occasions where it’s challenging to fit in a scheduled workout. Here, we have four challenging workouts (save these for your harder days) you can fit in before work or on a lunch break, and still have time for a quick shower.

A tempo run involves a prolonged or sustained moderate effort. Tempo sessions are perfect practice for racing, and the key to avoiding injury while doing these is not starting too hard. Coach and author David Roche suggests breaking a tempo session into three parts: for the first third, focus on running smoothly. On the second section, think relaxed, and for the final section, think fast(er).

“A perfect tempo gets slightly faster as it goes, but is enjoyable until the very last push at the end (when you might even sprint for one minute if you’re feeling strong),” says Roche.

Runner tying shoes on track
Photo: Unsplash/malik skydsgaard

Short tempo run

10 minutes easy running to warm up

21-minute tempo run at moderate effort

10 minutes easy running to cool down, with 4 x 30 seconds fast mixed in

Broken-up tempo workout

10 minutes easy running to warm up

2 x 10 minutes tempo run (moderate) with 5-minute jog recovery in between

10 minutes easy running with 4 x 30 seconds fast mixed in

runner in winter slush
Photo: Unsplash/erik mclean

Simple tempo repeats

10 minutes easy running to warm up

3 x 8 minutes tempo run at moderate effort, 3-minutes easy recovery running in between

10 minutes easy running to cool down

Longer (still short) tempo run

5–10 minutes easy running to warm up

30 minutes tempo run at moderate effort

5 minutes easy running to cool down

Roche adds a suggestion for time-crunched athletes–don’t let the need for the perfect workout get in the way of a simply good or even OK run.  “If you only have a few minutes on a workout day, mix in some unstructured intervals where you can’t fail–in other words, don’t try to hit particular splits, but run based on effort and leave the watch at home,” says Roche.

Get out there and do what you can, even if time is limited. You’ll feel better than if you did nothing at all, and consistency pays off. Remember to follow a hard workout session with an easy running or recovery day.





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