Sub-1hr session: tempo run

Perfect practice if you're going long this season

Tempo time

(Image: Jonny Gawler)


If you want to run well in Ironman, you need to work on speed and not just endurance. Emma-Kate Lidbury shows you how…

Equipment needed: run shoes and socks, shorts/tights, run top, watch or ideally GPS.

How to fit it in: try to schedule this workout when your legs are relatively fresh, so you’re able to push the pace when needed. That said, there’s no harm in acclimatising to running on slightly fatigued legs as it’s good practice for race day. Just avoid doing several hard bike and run workouts on consecutive days.

Tempo time

Warm-up: 10min steady run.

Main session: four x [4mins at 30secs per mile faster than Ironman pace; 3mins at Ironman pace; 2mins above Ironman pace (push pace as you feel); 1min easy jog].

Cool-down: 10min easy jog.

Main benefits

Performance benefits: to get the most from your Ironman run, you need to be comfortable at your goal pace. By working above your goal pace, albeit for a short time, and then recovering before building into it again, your body will become accustomed to running at this speed efficiently. It should translate to greater efficiency and speed, which ultimately leads to faster run splits.  

Mental benefits: learning how to pace an Ironman run can be a dark art, but this session will help you to gauge a feel for that speed. Injecting a few above-race-pace efforts will also give you a great deal of confidence. Be sure to focus on form and efficiency during this session – and learn to do this in racing, too.  

Physiological benefits: many people training for Ironman think they only need to log long, slow miles – the sooner you forget this idea, the better your run split will be. Granted, you don’t need hours of speedwork, but you do need to be able to ‘open the engine’ – and this workout simulates that perfectly. 

The opening 4mins should be comfortable and aerobic. The following 3mins are at goal race pace and the next two need to be a little faster, but let your legs and energy levels guide this. Recover for a minute and repeat. This session boosts aerobic endurance and speed without causing huge fatigue. 

Adapt for Olympic distance


Add 3-5mins to the warm-up but, during this time, build the pace and include some 20-30sec pick-ups. Alter the main set as follows: 4mins at 30secs per mile faster than Olympic-distance race pace; 3mins at Olympic-distance race pace; 2mins above Olympic-distance race pace; 3mins easy jog. Repeat three more times.