Tempo runs should be done once a week. They will help to increase your fitness level. Tempo runs also train you mentally by giving you the feeling of running faster which will help to build confidence for your road races.
As you begin, you want to start out easy to warm up. Most runners will run slowly for 10 – 15 minutes (I usually do 1 mile of easy running). Then you want to increase your speed until you are running about 15 seconds slower than your 10K speed. If you don’t know what that is, run at a speed that is a hard effort. You can judge this by using the talk test. If you have trouble talking – but not gasping for air – then you are probably at the right pace.
You want to continue at this pace for 15 – 20 minutes. Don’t worry if you can’t run that far at that pace when you are just starting tempo runs. Try it for 5 minutes and then each week build up to runner farther. Some runners will also break it into chunks of fast running. 5 minutes of quick paced running, followed by a minute or two of walking then another 5 minutes of tempo, etc. Whatever works for you is great – it’s just important to get these done.
After your quicker paced runs, you want to be sure to cool down. A nice, easy 10 minutes (or an easy mile) and then you’re done! Make sure that you are doing the warm up and cool down as it is critical to your performance.
Also, make sure that you are entering your tempo runs in your training log. Keep notes on your pace, how you felt, the weather conditions, etc. This will help you with your runs in the future.
20 minutes of tempo paced running each week will make you a stronger runner. However, if you are training for a longer distance run, you will want to increase your tempo runs to 30 – 40 minutes for each workout.