Jessica Tonn on Successful Execution of A Tempo Run

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Jessica Tonn is a middle and long distance runner for Brooks Beast in Seattle. Before that, she ran collegiately at Stanford University, and prior to college she was one of the best high school athletes to come out of the state of Arizona, winning 14 individual state titles and qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals four years in a row. Read what she has to say about successfully executing tempo runs. This is recirculated from an interview with FloTrack in 2015. 

Successful Execution of A Tempo Run

How do you properly execute a tempo run?

"This is also something I've learned as time went on, but I typically tempo for five to six miles. We would go out to the Bay Land in the peninsula. John Oliver our assistant men's coach would map out every mile, so by the end of the season we knew where the miles were. The huge thing about tempos is if your coach gives you a pace for each mile you really need to focus on hitting those paces. It's not something that's put on paper for you to try and totally go out and knock out of the park the first mile and then just try and get faster. From there, it's just something that your coach has put on the page because those are the times he thinks will get you to the place you need to be, for whatever race that's coming up.  

"We'd start at a pretty manageable pace for the first few miles and then it would get really tough. Progressive runs are all about getting progressively faster and building that intensity over the whole thing. So you want to make sure you're setting yourself up at the beginning of the tempo to get progressively faster. So by the time you hit that last mile you're rolling, but you've done it in a manner that's productive and not something that is going to hurt you in the next day [or the] workout down the road."

Not Getting Overly Excited

So what are you doing mentally in the first third of the tempo run, the first two miles of a five-mile tempo run, or whatever the case may be -- what are you doing mentally so that you don't get overly excited?

"A lot of it is just staying relaxed the first few miles. Sometimes it's gonna feel a lot easier the first two miles but . . . when you're in a tempo you're kinda of just thinking about the now and you need to think about mile four and mile six and how you're gonna feel when you hit those. . . . For me, I would always tempo with Ellis . . . thinking back on these workouts we would be chatting the first few miles not that we were running slow but it should be a pace that is comfortably hard. Then from there, it's just building a lot of intensity. We would always have coach Liz on the bikes next to us, and they were honest with their watches. A lot of it is just knowing it's going to be tough but really embracing that and getting excited."