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How to Run Faster

Tempo Runs: How to Push Yourself Past Your Comfortable Running Pace

When you first start running, it's important to think of yourself as a tortoise and not a hare, slowly easing yourself into running two to three miles a day, three to five days a week for about five weeks at a comfortable pace. This way, you can cover a lot of ground, yet still build endurance while minimizing injuries.

Once you're in a comfortable pace zone, you'll notice that you're getting in better shape and building a stronger aerobic system. But, to avoid hitting a plateau, it's a good idea to move out of your now-comfortable cruising pace and push yourself to run faster by doing tempo runs. A tempo run challenges you to run outside of your normal pace for a steady period of time (rather than in short bursts like interval training). To start training with tempo runs, Shape suggests 10-minute tempo runs for beginners, 20 minutes for intermediate runners, and 40 minutes for advanced athletes. What tempo runs do is they get you running faster, but at a speed that you can handle for an extended period of time.

Keep reading for more tips about getting past your normal running threshold.

When you do your first tempo run, find that comfortable, yet hard pace that will force you to challenge yourself while listening to your body. Experiment until you find a pace you can sustain without beginning to struggle. Help figure the pace out by giving yourself a talk test — a question like "Pace OK?" should be possible, but a conversation won't be. You should aim to do a tempo run every seven to 10 days, but as you progress, keep this simple formula, and add a couple minutes to the tempo run portion of your workout.

Motivating yourself to get past your comfortable running pace is important, but it's also important to make sure you aren't hurting yourself in the process. Feeling faint, lightheaded, nauseous, and shortness of breath are just a few of the symptoms that could indicate something serious, so it's important to stop running if you experience any of these.

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