Norwegian Double Threshold vs. Tempo Run: A Comprehensive Comparison for Runners

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Written By Matthew Brunken

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Norwegian double threshold training temp run

The increasing popularity of the Norwegian Double Threshold training method has caught the attention of many runners. This unique approach emphasizes intensity-controlled threshold sessions and double-workouts, contributing to better running performance. On the other hand, tempo runs have long been a staple of many training programs, focusing on an extended period of running at a comfortably hard pace. Both methods aim to improve an athlete’s aerobic capacity and overall endurance.

Over the years, research and practice have refined these two running approaches, each offering its respective benefits to those who practice them. By understanding the intricacies of the Norwegian Double Threshold and tempo runs, athletes can make informed choices about their training schedules and tailor their workouts to best suit individual needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Norwegian Double Threshold and tempo runs each offer unique benefits to improve running performance
  • The choice between the two methods depends on individual goals and preferences
  • Athletes should incorporate a variety of techniques to optimize recovery and efficiently achieve their targets.

Understanding Norwegian Double Threshold and Tempo Run

Concept of Lactate Threshold

Lactate threshold is a crucial element in understanding both tempo runs and Norwegian double threshold training. It refers to the intensity at which your body starts to accumulate lactate in the blood faster than it can be cleared. Your lactate threshold represents the transition from aerobic to anaerobic exercise. Training at or near this intensity can improve your endurance, efficiency, and race performances.

Difference between Tempo Run and Norwegian Double Threshold

Tempo Run: A tempo run, also known as threshold training, is a popular workout aimed at improving your lactate threshold. During a tempo run, you typically maintain a consistent pace, or heart rate, for 15-30 minutes within heart rate zones 3 and 4 (source). This allows you to run at a challenging yet maintainable intensity, pushing your lactate threshold without overexerting yourself.

Norwegian Double Threshold: The Norwegian double threshold training method, on the other hand, focuses on interval sessions rather than continuous running. This approach has been used successfully by Norwegian athletes in international competitions (source). The main distinction between a tempo run and Norwegian double threshold lies in the structure of the workout. Double threshold workouts consist exclusively of intervals, such as 1.5 miles, 1 mile, 1 mile, 1 mile, and 1.5 miles, with short recovery periods between each rep (source).

When comparing the two methods, consider your training goals and preferences. A tempo run is a continuous, steady-state workout that targets your lactate threshold, while the Norwegian double threshold utilizes interval sessions to address the same objective. By incorporating both techniques into your training plan, you can optimize your aerobic capacity and prepare for a variety of race conditions.

Training Methods

In this section, we’ll discuss different training methods for runners, focusing on traditional tempo runs, the Norwegian Double Threshold Workout, and Renato Canova’s approach.

Traditional Tempo Run

A tempo run is an essential workout in a runner’s training arsenal. It targets the lactate threshold, which is the point where lactic acid starts to build up in your muscles, hindering your performance. A tempo run consists of running at a comfortably hard pace, typically between your 10k and half marathon race pace, for a continuous duration. The idea is to maintain a steady heart rate, usually around 85-90% of your maximum heart rate, throughout the run1. It helps increase your endurance, aerobic capacity (VO2 max), and overall running performance.

One workout example:

  • Warm-up: 1-2 miles of easy jogging, followed by dynamic stretching and a few strides
  • Tempo run: 3-6 miles at threshold pace (85-90% of max heart rate)
  • Cool-down: 1-2 miles of easy jogging and static stretching

Norwegian Double Threshold Workout

The Norwegian Double Threshold Workout is a training method that has gained popularity among endurance athletes. This workout, popularized by athletes like the Ingebrigtsens, features two threshold sessions in a single day, separated by a recovery period. It’s believed to be an effective way to increase the lactate threshold and improve endurance.

An example of a Norwegian Double Threshold Workout:

  • AM session: 5x2000m at threshold pace with 2-3 minutes recovery between intervals
  • Recovery: 4-6 hours rest
  • PM session: 10x1000m at threshold pace with 1-2 minutes recovery between intervals

This workout is more intense and requires careful monitoring of heart rate and perceived effort. It’s best for more advanced runners or those with a solid base of endurance training.

Renato Canova’s Approach

Renato Canova, a renowned Italian coach, has developed a lactate controlled training approach that focuses on manipulating both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. It involves workouts that target specific zones of intensity, such as the ventilatory thresholds (VT1 and VT2). Canova’s workouts often blend steady-state runs and intervals at different paces to achieve a balanced stimulus.

An example of a Canova workout:

  • Warm-up: 20-minute easy run
  • Main session: 2x(4x300m at 5k pace) with 1-minute rest between reps and 5 minutes between sets
  • Threshold run: 20 minutes at half marathon pace
  • Cool-down: 15-minute easy run

In summary, each method – traditional tempo runs, Norwegian Double Threshold Workouts, and Renato Canova’s approach – offer different ways to improve your endurance, speed, and overall running performance. It’s essential to consider your current fitness level, goals, and recovery capacity when incorporating these workouts into your training plan. Ultimately, consistency, adequate rest, proper fueling, and listening to your body will be the key to your progress as a runner.


  1. Triathlete – Norwegian Training Methods

Optimizing Workout and Recovery

Appropriate Pace Setting

When incorporating the Norwegian Double threshold method into your training, it’s crucial to set the appropriate pace for your workouts. These workouts typically involve two sessions per day, focusing on threshold training. Whether you’re preparing for a 10k, half marathon, or a full marathon, finding your lactate threshold pace can help you optimize your training schedule and minimize the risk of overtraining.

To determine your lactate threshold pace, consider performing a lactate testing or monitoring your heart rate during workouts. Aim to run at a pace where your heart rate stays in zone 1 or zone 2, which is around 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. Working within this range allows for a sustainable effort that doesn’t push your body too far.

Fueling and Hydration

Proper fueling and hydration are essential for successful Norwegian Double threshold or tempo run sessions. Consuming enough calories and nutrients before, during, and after workouts can help improve your recovery, maintain optimal energy levels, and prevent injury.

Incorporate a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats in your diet, and ensure you’re consuming enough calories to support the demands of your training. For longer workouts, such as half or full marathon training sessions, consider consuming sports drinks or gels to maintain your energy levels.

Additionally, staying well-hydrated throughout the day and during workouts is crucial for peak performance. Monitor your urine color and aim for a light, straw-like color to ensure adequate hydration levels.

Tracking Progress with Technology

Leveraging technology can help you better understand your body’s response to Norwegian Double threshold and tempo run workouts. Track your progress and gather valuable data using apps like Strava or the Outside+ app. These platforms can help you analyze your workouts, set goals, and communicate with fellow runners.

The use of lactate monitors or heart rate monitors can provide insights into your lactate threshold training and ventilatory threshold. By regularly testing and observing your workouts, you can make informed decisions about your training schedule and progress toward your personal best.

By focusing on appropriate pace setting, proper fueling and hydration, and tracking progress with technology, your Norwegian Double threshold or tempo run workouts can become integral components of your training journey.

Adapting the Approach for Different Running Goals

Distance Running

When it comes to distance running goals such as half-marathons or longer races, incorporating the Norwegian Double threshold system can be beneficial. This approach mainly focuses on intensity-controlled threshold training and double-workouts, which can lead to significant improvements in your performance1. In distance running, consider integrating these double threshold workouts into your weekly schedule to increase your aerobic capacity and improve race-specific pace.

Marathon Training

For marathon training, the Norwegian Double threshold method can be modified by incorporating elements similar to the Canova Special Block2. For instance, you can structure your training like this:

  • AM: 10K Moderate + 10k Fast (tempo)
  • PM: 10K Moderate + 10x1000m @Threshold

This combination of double threshold and tempo runs will help you develop marathon-specific endurance and speed. Remember to balance these intense workouts with proper rest and easier runs to manage fatigue and avoid overtraining.


When training for a triathlon, like an Ironman, you can apply the Norwegian Double threshold method to your running days. As triathletes need to focus on three disciplines instead of just running, you can incorporate double threshold sessions into your weekly schedule in combination with swim and bike workouts. This approach supports the development of run-specific endurance and pacing that will be particularly helpful during the final portion of the race.

Improving Speed and Time

If you’re aiming to improve your speed and personal best (PB) times across different distances, the double threshold sessions are invaluable. The high-intensity intervals and focus on threshold pace will help increase your lactate threshold, allowing you to maintain a faster pace for longer periods. Experiment with different interval lengths and recovery times to find the optimal combination that suits your running goals.

By adapting the Norwegian Double threshold approach to your specific running goals, you can reap the benefits of targeted, intensity-controlled training while building a strong foundation for success at various distances and disciplines.


  1. Norwegian Approach to Running Training

  2. Norwegian Double Threshold System vs. Canova Special Block

Techniques for Improving Running Economy and Form

To improve your running economy and form, there are several effective techniques you can incorporate into your training routine. One key aspect of the Norwegian Double Threshold System is its emphasis on intensity-controlled threshold training and double workouts. These methods, combined with other strategies, can significantly enhance your running economy.

Firstly, increase your training mileage. Slow running at low to moderate intensity plays an essential role in long-term improvements. The accumulated mileage over several years of training has been shown to be a crucial factor in improving running economy.

Incorporate interval training into your regime. Interval training, such as the intervals used in the Norwegian Double Threshold System, is an effective way to enhance your running economy. By combining periods of intense exercise with rest or lower-intensity exercise, you can gradually increase your body’s ability to sustain faster paces for longer durations.

Another helpful technique is to focus on specific targeted exercises that improve your running form. These can include drills such as high knees, butt kicks, and leg swings to strengthen running-specific muscle groups and improve biomechanics. A better running form will ultimately contribute to your overall running economy.

It’s also important to be mindful of your average pace during training sessions. To optimize your running economy, aim for a pace that allows your heart rate to stay within the 115-120 bpm range, as mentioned in the Norwegian training methods. As you progress, you should notice a decrease in required effort to maintain similar paces, indicating an improvement in running economy.

Don’t forget to include cooldown jogs in your training routine. Cooldowns help your body recover and return to a resting state gradually. This can reduce muscle soreness and promote a more efficient recovery process, allowing you to perform better in your next training session.

By incorporating these techniques into your training program and consistently monitoring your progress, you can effectively improve your running economy and overall performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does double threshold running differ from tempo runs?

In double threshold training, you perform two threshold workouts within a single day. A typical double threshold session could involve 5x2000m @ Threshold in the morning and 10x1000m @ Threshold in the evening. Tempo runs, on the other hand, involve a single continuous effort at a pace slightly slower than your threshold, usually for 20-40 minutes.

How often should one incorporate threshold runs per week?

It’s generally recommended to incorporate 1-2 threshold runs per week, depending on your current fitness level, training goals, and recovery capacity. Ensure that you allow for adequate recovery between these sessions and listen to your body to prevent overtraining.

What are the benefits of the Norwegian training method for distance running?

The Norwegian training method focuses on intensity-controlled threshold training, double-workouts, and specific work. This approach has led to great success for many athletes on the international stage, helping to improve endurance, running economy, and the ability to sustain a faster pace for longer durations.

How do threshold runs impact half marathon performance?

Threshold runs help improve your aerobic capacity and running efficiency, which enables you to maintain a faster pace for longer durations. By consistently incorporating threshold runs into your training, you can expect improvements in your half marathon performance through increased endurance and reduced fatigue.

What’s the difference between threshold and marathon pace?

Threshold pace is the intensity at which your body can clear lactate from your bloodstream most efficiently, usually corresponding to a pace you can sustain for about an hour. Marathon pace, on the other hand, is the pace you can maintain throughout a marathon race. Typically, marathon pace is slower than threshold pace, allowing you to conserve energy and complete the full 42.195km distance.

How does Ingebrigtsen’s threshold training work?

Ingebrigtsen’s threshold training follows the Norwegian approach and involves double threshold sessions. This method has led to impressive results, such as a 12:52 personal best in the 5,000 meters and a 4th place finish at Worlds. The emphasis on intensity-controlled threshold workouts and double-sessions helps improve aerobic capacity, running economy, and the ability to maintain a faster pace over longer distances.

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