How Much Exercise Does A 1 Year Old Lab Need The Basics of an Endurance Sport – Part 2 – Tempo Training

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The Basics of an Endurance Sport – Part 2 – Tempo Training

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Remember to consult your doctor before starting any exercise program.

In our last segment we discussed the first phase of training commonly known as basic training. You should always start any training cycle with a solid base training phase before moving on to our next phase known as tempo training or efficiency training. To review it, let’s take another look at our training pyramid. Think of a pyramid: the base is general conditioning, and then comes the tempo phase, the interval phase, and finally the speed phase.

SECOND PHASE:

Again, I’m sure most of you are familiar with tempo training. And I’m sure many of you regularly follow some sort of tempo training regimen. But when I ask many well-informed runners how they define tempo training, I get mixed results and many answers that don’t match what’s known in current exercise physiology circles. The most common mistake is that tempo training is done at too fast a pace. How fast is too fast? What is the purpose of tempo training? How far should we go for tempo training? What do we do with the previous basic training phase? So, as before, we will try to answer these questions by giving clear parameters to define precisely how this phase should be done and to do it in a concise and scientific way.

Timed training defined

· the purpose

Why should we care about this aspect of training and what benefits will come from it? Based on my own empirical evidence, this phase is one of the most beneficial of all phases (second only to an increased base phase). Simply put, this type of training aims to decrease the amount of energy consumed at a certain rate. In other words, after a successful tempo phase, you’ll notice that you’re running faster for a given perceived effort, or that the same pace is achieved with much less effort. For example, if you normally run your easy days at 8 minutes per mile, you may notice that the same perceived effort, after tempo training, now produces a 7:45 per mile training session. The benefits of this should be obvious to anyone. If you are able to run a certain pace with an easier effort, maybe your old 5K pace will now be your new 5 mile pace!

· the duration

We have to define two durations here. The duration of the training phase and the duration of an actual workout. This training phase is usually best carried out over a period of at least 10-12 weeks at a frequency of about once per week in most circumstances. The length of a real workout usually consists of about 20 minutes of slow warm-up going straight into 3-6 miles at your pace and then followed by a few miles of cool down.

· the intensity

Obviously, your pace will depend on genetics and your overall fitness level. If there’s one thing I always try to drum into people’s heads, it’s that tempo runs are EASY AND FUN. Sure they’re done at a pace that should be faster than your easy days, but if that pace isn’t fast but “FUN AND EASY,” you’re probably going too fast. I’ve known runners who run too much on their easy days and essentially do a tempo run every day.

What are the physiological parameters that make up the mechanism that influences tempo training? The body produces energy differently depending on the current intensity and duration of your activity. Up to a certain intensity of exercise, muscle cells obtain most of the energy they need to work through aerobic respiration. In aerobic respiration, glucose is efficiently metabolized into carbon dioxide and water by an enzymatic pathway known as the Krebs cycle. At high intensity, the lungs and circulatory system are no longer able to supply enough oxygen to the cells to maintain aerobic metabolism. At this point, anaerobic metabolism or glycolysis becomes the primary metabolic pathway for burning glucose. There are two problems with anaerobic metabolism. The first is that it is very inefficient, producing only 6% of the energy per glucose molecule as the Krebs cycle. The second problem is that lactic acid is the end product of anaerobic respiration and its accumulation in muscle tissue causes a rapid decrease in performance. This is why you can’t even run a 5K at your sprint pace. The purpose of tempo training is to train your body to be able to run aerobically at increasing levels of exercise intensity. This is done by running at a pace just below the point where anaerobic metabolism dominates.1 It is also worth noting that training much beyond this pace will NOT increase your benefit and will only increase the drain and potential damage of the training

1 Thanks to Bill Tyszynski for his help clarifying this section

How is this appropriate intensity determined? There are many methods to determine your right pace. However, the only way to achieve this very precisely is in the laboratory. Most of us don’t have that luxury. There are workouts to determine this (the Conconi test) that depend on doing a workout at progressively faster rates. Each segment, however, must be extremely precise in its pacing… It is highly unlikely that a runner will be as precise as necessary for each pacing segment. I also believe that the Conconi test, although others would disagree, relates much better to the paces we should be using in our interval phase of training rather than our tempo phase. So for the purposes of this article, we’ll stick to easier methods of determining our tempo. Remember that we are trying to increase the efficiency of our body. When lactic acid build-up doesn’t occur, but you’re now moving at a faster speed in the process, we could say you’ve improved your efficiency. So we need to determine at what point this lactic acid build-up starts to occur and it runs slower than that rate. For most people, this equates to 80%-85% of your maximum effort. You can determine this rate by using a heart rate monitor and multiplying your maximum heart rate by .85. But you should be sure of your maximum heart rate before you can do this. For your benefit, below is a little chart to help you determine your tempo pace based on 5K and 10K times.

5K time	10K time	Tempo Pace/mile

28:54 60:00 9:57
26:30 55:00 9:12
24:05 50:00 8:25
21:41 45:00 7:37
19:16 40:00 6:49
16:52 35:00 6:00
14:27 30:00 5:11
13:00 27:00 4:42

Resources: Roy Benson boot camp materials (compiled by Larry Simpson), published research by Jack Daniels and MJ Karvonen and “The Perfect Pace”, Runner’s World

Another way to determine the correct pace is to base it on marathon running pace. It just so happens that your marathon pace is about 95% of your pace. So in a nutshell, you could take your marathon pace and go a little faster and you’ll be close to your tempo training pace.

In closing, I must remind you that in my experience (based on lab tests, Max VO2 tests, and my own max heart rate), this pace should feel comfortably fast. No, that’s not an oxymoron! You should feel like you’re running fast, but know that you can hold the pace for a long time if you need to. You should always feel like you could go faster at any point during your workout. However, unless you’re training for a marathon (where you need to adapt to running close to that pace for at least a couple of hours), just hold that pace for 3-6 miles in the middle of a run of about 8-12 miles.

So gear up… Racing season is upon us!

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