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Running Cardio, Tempo or Fartlek What does it mean?

Updated on January 20, 2012

The race starts with a number

Different training terms in running

You will hear people talking about different types of running benefits and you can see these terms written on different running programs, but what do they actually mean?


This is a program where your muscles will be worked harder than normal, to work they need an increased oxygen supply which is delivered to them by the increased pumping of the heart . As you get stronger from training your heart will become more efficient at pumping more blood around your body ( increased heart rate is measured in beats per minute and is called stroke volume )

Very good distance runners who finish a marathon in under three hours can have muscles that have more than doubled efficiency at consuming oxygen than people who are hobby runners. This is also a reason for their metabolic rate to be much higher keeping them lean and fat free! Running improves your aerobic fitness by increasing the activity of enzymes and hormones that stimulate the muscles and the heart to work more efficiently.

What about running and burning fat?

It seems to me that after many years of running it becomes more difficult to burn fat than it was when i first started. I have even wondered if it is at all worth the effort! Of course it is as the benefits of running do not just stop at weight loss and this should not be your main reason for running. My mum once said to me it is not what you put in your mouth that helps you lose weight it is what you don't put in there!!! Why are mums always right? and she is. Nowadays i use running to help me go down in weight but i never see it as my diet as i need good food to fuel the energy to help me run better. To become an elite lean runner it would take consistent and dedicated training and i am just not that dedicated. On saying that i enjoy being a middle of the road runner and feeling the health benefits it brings. Sometimes i work harder to compete against myself to improve and get better race times, this is fun and it takes enough effort to raise my cardio and with it i get fitter.

If i eat correctly and cut out the sweet stuff, eat more fruit and vegetables during these training periods i don't only go down in weight , my skin gets brighter, my hair shines and i feel healthier all-round. For me that is better than going on a starvation diet with the tiredness, dull hair and poor skin quality that follows.


Faster-paced short efforts is the basic of tempo runs.

A slow 15-minute warmup, followed by at least 20 minutes at a challenging but manageable pace, then a 15-minute cool down.

These are speed training runs and are also incorporated into the marathon runners training program together with the weekly long distance run which is needed for endurance training.

Tempo runs are important as they help your body to sustain speed over longer distances. Tempos are different from speed work though which will push your max speed over shorter distances.

Tempo runs increase your lactate threshold which is the point at which your body normally fatigues at a certain pace. When you run fast you release lactate and hydrogen ions into the muscle as a by product of metabolism at some point. If you can increase your lactate threshold your muscle will work for you longer before releasing these by products.

Tempo runs are therefore described as the comfortably hard runs, you know you have worked but you have not been racing.


This is our neighboring countries name for speed play.

Fartlek will take you from a comfortable jog or walk pace, then hurl yourself into a sprint for a short distance. You can do this any way you like but the idea is to last long enough to do your training for at least one hour.

The sprints should be so fast that you don't last longer than around 40 seconds and at the very most 1 minute. Longer than this will produce too much lactic acid. For some people even 20 seconds sprints are enough while they are building up their stamina. What i am really trying to say here is that it is a game, your game and you make the rules. Just make sure you can hold out for an hour to get most benefit from the training.

One good way to run this workout is to pick out objects ahead of you, like a telephone pole and sprint from that pole to the next and then jog.

Before starting a fartlek, make sure that you warm up at least 10-15 minutes to ensure that your muscles are loose enough to handle the accelerations. Also, cool down 10-15 minutes after the workout.

Well that was fun and enough for todays post. Thank you once again for taking the time to read my post.


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