Tempo definition by energy systems

I am interested in a general and broad description of the pace used for Tempo runs.

I have purchased and read “Speed Trap”, “The Charlie Francis Training System” and “The 2002 Forum Review”. I have also been following the forums for the past year and a half.

My interest is in learning how the Charlie Francis “methods” might be applied to my sport, which is track cycling. Track cycling seems to have many analogs in track running. Very roughly speaking, the 100 m run (WR 9.78 sec) is close in time to the 200 m matched sprint (WR 9.865 sec at altitude, more like 10 sec at sea level) in track cycling.

The 400 m run (WR 43.18 sec) is a bit shorter than the 1000 m in track cycling (WR 59 sec at altitude, more like 60.5 at sea level). So maybe if the 500 m run was contested it would be closer to the 1000 m in track cycling. The 1000 m in track cycling also seems close to the 1000 m in long course speed skating (WR 1:07.18)

Regardless of times, I have used many of the Charlie Francis concepts and applied them to track cycling and I have seen great improvement. In order to better understand what Tempo runs mean to you, I need to gauge the level of effort in terms of the energy systems used. For running, setting tempo pace as a percent of the maximum velocity works, but those percents will not accurately transfer to cycling due to higher wind resistance at those speeds which is a nonlinear relationship.

I was hoping someone had some data on how fast Charlie’s tempo runs are as a percent of VO2max velocity or VO2max power. Some in the past have suggested that Charlie’s tempo runs are near 100% of VO2max velocity.

I realize an energy systems approach to training is not the direct focus of the Charlie Francis methods, however any help here will allow me to translate workouts into my sport.



I’m not sure how to translate the percents for cycling, but, as a starting point, it must be possible to finish the tempo work at the same pace you started with. Any drop would indicate that the initial pace was too fast. the other thing to keep in mind is that the pace guidelines are MAXIMUMS, but not minimums, so you should be able to establish a pace that spares your nervous system for the critical speed work sessions. Better to start easy and work up as you go

What system are you using? I would stay away from most american systems but also realize that the Austrialian system has limits.

Thanks for the reply, Charlie.

So, for arguments sake, if I take the sample program from “Charlie Francis Training System”, p. 43 titled “Sample training Microcycle for well conditioned runners immediately prior to competition Period (Winter)”, the Thursday workout is easy tempo 8 x 200 m with 200 m walks between.

A runner with a 21 sec 200 m personal best would run the tempo 200 m in a time 28 sec (75% of max). How long does it take to walk 200 m? I’ll assume 90 sec. So, the exercise prescription is for a maximum of 30 sec effort followed by 90 sec easy repeated 8 times. The measure of success is improved recovery (felt over subsequent training days) and the ability to finish the last interval at the same velocity as the first.

I start easy, VO2max power is sustainable for around 5 min, so holding it for 30 sec is very easy. I will adjust from there as I gain some experience. Cumulative tempo volume looks to be between 3 to 5 minutes at effort.

Let me know if I am off base here!


Clemson, thanks for the reply.

I am not using any system. I wish I was. I train in Northern California and I am not nationally competitive – yet.

Track cycling is a small sport and track cycling sprinters are an even smaller group, as it sounds like you are aware. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any national or world caliber track cycling coach who shares their knowledge freely like Charlie does for runners. You guys are very, very lucky!

So I am making up my own system as I go along. I would LOVE to train like the Australian, British or French track cycling sprinters – I just don’t have access to that information.


Re: Our Tempo
Time is max and the walk would more likely end up at 2 min.