Tempo and Speed

Charlie, what should be the general ratio b/w speed work and tempo work?

How does the fast fibers in the muscles react from tempo work?

Ok I think I understand this now. The volume of tempo should be kept about the same but intensity should be adjusted based on development? Thanks for the clarification!

I didn’t quite understand this ratio before. If an athlete does the perscribed tempo volume of 6000-6600 meters (2000-2200 p/session *3 sessions per week), and speed, for most of us a maximum of 1500 meters (500 *3 weekly sessions) How does that ratio work?

1500:6000 or 20:80?

For 400 meter runners it would be even greater.


18:82 approx.?

How do we arrive at 35:65?

this depends on the level of the athlete as well. The more elite the athlete the closer to this 35:65 ratio we get. For an 11.50sec 100m athlete I would have it closer to 50:50. My notes from the Vancouver Seminar have more of an accurate breakdown regarding athlete level and the ratio.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

Originally posted by Clemson
In CLEMSON math (for people like me with slow brains) I try to keep it raw.

For example, every speed day needs a day at least to recover, such as a tempo day. We know it is an intensity of 75% or less for about 1200-2000 meters per workout. The total speed work varies depending on the recovery, event, and maturity of the athlete.

So the amount of tempo work should be kept the same regardless of development of the athlete?

Maybe I take a longer rest, I don’t know I don’t time it. I take a long enough rest so that I feel that I can maintain absolutely perfect form at the exact pace I want to go at, but no longer and I think both of us agree on that.

Theone: Good post would you or Charlie like to comment further on the percentages.

To Clemson: I rather keep that information out of the forumn. Im not trying to start a war here. Im sure my times will be on the internet somwhere.

To pete:
I have seen many hs athletes perform tempo incorrectly do to very low rest intervals. I still stand firm that 30 seconds is too short for a highschool athlete. I think that quality should also be emphasized with tempo. I guess I stand alone on this idea. Why have highschool athletes perform repeat distances with poor form. Especially an athlete with no track and field background. If elite sprinters are taking longer then 30 seconds per tempo run then why should highschool athletes not take more. Also although tempo is used to help facilitate and help repair muslce fatigue along with other specific trainig goals, it can also have a reverse effect if done incorrectly. Like anything in life. Too much of a goodthing is bad for you. We are sprinters not distance runners. I still believe that tempo should not be like a distance run. Thirty seconds is barely enought time to tie your shoe. You think maurice greene takes only 30 seconds between runs then think again.

I would’nt worry too much about rest times. Do the run, walk a bit and do another one. If you are so tired that you can’t maintain <75% intensity then a) you are out of shape and b) either slow down the runs, increase the time between them or both.

Finish the last run at the same pace and effort as the first one…


Clemson I think I would expand the rest time inbetween tempo for highschool athletes. My highschool coach was national coach of the year and used to preach long rest intervals between tempo. Long meaning…longer then 30 seconds. Maybe they were too long but never the less I got the point. I would give the kids a slow walk back which in total would be about 1:30 -2:00 minutes between reps. And maybe five minutes inbetween sets. Also very limited numbers of situps and pushups. Oh course this would change as the amount of experience, performance level, and recovery/program change.

Maybe I guess there alot alot of factors here. If he needs more rest then probally the volume of tempo work is to much for that day. I guess I agree somewhat, and disagree somewhat. I believe it would still have the correct effect with a longer rest especially for athletes who have never run track before. I guess it depends on the athlete. Also 1:30 is not alot of time for someone who is at a beginner level in my opinion. Even in CFTS the athletes were walking at distances of 50m-200m between reps which would be longer then just a 30 second rest.

The ratio of high intensity to low intensity work will change with training age and performance level. During the early stages of development, the majority of the work is low intensity because the athlete has not yet built the workload capacity for high intensity work. And at the beginning stages, even low intensity work is hard. As the athlete progresses, the ratio is shifted toward more high intensity work. Finally, if the athlete reaches very high performance levels, the ratio is shifted back toward low intensity work because the high intensity work is so fast, less of it can be tolerated. Charlie discusses this in his seminars and it is covered in the seminar videos.

Originally posted by Timothy Lane
Theone how did you come about this ratio? (what was the math behind this)

Forum Moderator
Posts : 1942

11/22/2002 : 1:09:03 PM 

I think the benefits of aerobic work will be substantial for you. As long as the intensity is low, it won’t affect your speed work adversely at all. The ratio by vol for sprinters is 35% high intensity and 65% low intensity. In your event, I suspect the ratio would move slightly more towards low intensity.

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Posts : 1942

5/5/2002 : 4:15:36 PM 

Re Reps
I found that my ab work followed the pattern of my running work- 35% high int (based on the actions of the high int componants themselves) and 65% low intensity reps(the only ones we specifically did as separate ab work). Maybe such a ratio could carry over to other sporting events as their high int vol is probably lower, but I wouldn’t count on it. I have had some experience with a world-ranked discus thrower, and he did alot of power rotation work, as you describe but primarily because the event is rotational and in order to effectively stabilize the spine, he needed “mirror training” (work in the opposite direction to his throws to equalize the musculature).

Originally posted by prophet
Ok I think I understand this now. The volume of tempo should be kept about the same but intensity should be adjusted based on development? Thanks for the clarification!

I think intensity in relation to PR should remain about the same, but obviously as you get faster intensity will increase. Instead of changing intensity I think the rest periods get smaller as one gets more aerobically fit.

As a high school athlete because I’ve built up to it, 30-40something seconds really isn’t a problem. xlr8 is probably right though, don’t time it but be ready to run when you feel restored.

Theone how did you come about this ratio? (what was the math behind this)



if 30sec. isn’t enough, as Clemson states, why not do the runs s-l-o-w-e-r. Start of as low as 60% and as conditioning levels improve look to edge the runs towards 70-75%? I just can’t see your argument - 3-5 minute rests between extensive tempo runs makes no sense to me…

John Smith doesn’t do tempo the same way? Where’d he get the big circuit from then?