Raise the tempo, increase power

By including paced tempo sessions now – one of the most important types of run for a triathlete – your body will be ready for the race season ahead

Hopefully by this point in your training your body has adapted nicely to the increased consistency and volume you’ve slowly inserted into your training regime. And even though there shouldn’t have been a total absence of intensity within your programme thus far, now is the perfect time not only to put the volume in place but to also carefully insert specific paced efforts (near race-pace efforts), to, as the name suggests, improve endurance and power at a specific, sustained pace. I truly believe that these are one of the most, if not the most, important types of run for a triathlete to do.

But, please be aware that this isn’t a green light for you to throw all your careful planning from the last few months out of the window with overexuberance. It’s important to integrate the intensity carefully and slowly let the body adapt. In other words, be patient.

Whenever you have high volume and the inclusion of longer bouts of intensity within a training programme, the chances of picking up an injury are drastically increased. That’s why, even though you might have a specific pace that you believe or think you’re capable of, it’s very important to keep an open mind in terms of what your body will allow you to do. There’s a big difference between the two. This is where the inclusion of some specific training races are important to help guide you with that constant battle between the two.

Remember, these ‘training races’ (5/10km) are a guide. With the volume still being kept relatively high, you’ll go into these benchmark tests a little fatigued, so set your pace goals at a reasonable expectation, to start with at least.

For the paced tempo session, find a flat to rolling route and for the surface a mixture of road and softer trails (trails, bush, grass). Ideally complete it once a week to every 10 days, in addition to your other 3-4 runs a week.

The session

40-60 minute paced tempo


  • Slow build from a jog to PE 4-5* for approx 10-15mins.
  • 3 x [20sec pick-ups @ PE 5-6, 40sec jog @PE 2].


  • 2-3 reps of 10-15mins (if you’re new to this type of session, always err on the side of caution. You can always increase later as the body adapts).
  • Increase pace slightly within the 10-15mins. In your head, break down these longer continuous efforts into manageable 5min increments, with the first of the 5mins being the more conservative (PE 7-8) and then finish the next one or two 5mins (depending on whether you do 10 or 15mins) @ PE 8+ (not max effort) OR @ your specific target pace.
  • Recovery between each 10 or 15min effort is a slow jog (PE 2-3 max) of 3-5mins. Don’t rush or push the recovery.


  • Walk or shuffle until heart rate is under control.
  • Stretch out.