I love to hate the tempo run. Once a week I face my fear and get out for a mid-distance, steady, hard run of seven or eight miles. On a tempo run, you don’t get the rest intervals of a speed workout, and you don’t get the easy pace of a long run. It’s the workout that in my mind best simulates the effort required in half marathon and marathon races.
The reward for facing my fear and taming the tempo run is the tremendous sense of accomplishment when I finish! Today’s run was no exception. By all accounts it shouldn’t have been that great a run. This was the first week I’d gone back to work after 13 years as a stay-at-home mom to three girls. I worked 21.5 hours at three schools with nine teachers and aides, and 45 children with special needs. I was supposed to do the tempo run Friday morning, but frankly I went to bed at 9:15 on Thursday night and needed all the sleep I could get to face six hours at the junior high and elementary school the next day. By the time my day working and shuttling my own kids ended at 8:30 p.m., there was no way I was getting on my treadmill for eight miles. So I pushed it to Saturday morning, set my alarm for 6 a.m., got my teenager to her prospective high school for honors math and English testing at 7:15 a.m., and hit the high school track by 7:30. I knocked out the eight-mile run in 63 minutes, keeping a solid tempo run pace under 8:00 per mile after a warm-up mile at 8:34:
The splits from the MapMyRun iPhone app.
So what are the tricks to taming the tempo run?
- Consider taking a rest day or cross-training day before a tempo run. Okay, I know a lot of people run five or more days a week, which doesn’t leave a lot of slots for rest days. But if you want to hit your tempo run with confidence, it’s best to do it on fresh legs. I usually cross-train on Thursdays before the tempo run on Friday. This week I took a rest day on Friday (and felt lousy mentally for it — I get so much satisfaction from crossing the workouts off my schedule), but that allowed me to really hit the track hard on Saturday.
- Choose a course that doesn’t have many (if any) stops. I like to do a tempo run on the track (“Tracks! They’re not just for speed workouts!”) because I don’t have to worry about stopping at stoplights or dodging cars on the road. I put on a podcast or audiobook to entertain me on the loops around the track, I get into a “zen” zone of maintaining that steady pace, and my body practically goes on autopilot. But if I can’t hit the track, I choose a dedicated bike/running path or a straight out-and-back in a neighborhood without stoplights.
- The warm up is key. Don’t try to go out at tempo pace. Spend the first mile easing into that tempo run pace.
- Carry your water or sports drink with you. Again, it’s not truly a steady effort run if you stop and start at stoplights or for water breaks. The only exception to that in my opinion is if you want to practice stopping for water at the aid stations for a race. The track is a perfect place to do this. You can set up your own makeshift aid station on a bench or the bleachers next to the track and practice running four laps (a mile) and stopping to grab a cup of water. Then either walk while you drink or practice drinking on the run, whatever you plan to do during the race. It took me a while to get the hang of it. One tip I appreciated was to speed up just before you hit the aid station so you bank a few seconds ahead of time. Then you can walk through the aid station, get a drink without spilling all over yourself, and catch your breath before picking back up to race pace again. That’s easier in my mind than hitting the aid station at race pace, walking, and having to make up lost time by speeding up faster than race pace after you start running again.
Do you incorporate tempo runs into your training? What’s your best advice for taming a tempo run?
Read Full Post »
Posted in Blogging, ElliptiGO, Family life, Inspiration, Marathon, Running, tagged Another Mother Runner, audiobooks, Boston Marathon, Chino Hills Trail Run Series, My Year of Running Dangerously, Runners Connect, running podcast, Tom Foreman on January 3, 2016|
6 Comments »
I find it a little funny that my first long run of ’16 was 16 miles! I didn’t plan it that way; in fact I thought I was supposed to run 14 and I was dismayed to see that 16 when I double-checked my Boston training schedule. It’s week five of training, 15 weeks to go. The run went well. I took it easy at a 10:00 pace and listened to podcasts by Another Mother Runner and Runners Connect. I just finished listening to a great audiobook for runners: My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan. CNN correspondent Tom Foreman narrates his own book and makes it entertaining and informative about coming back to running at an older age, running with your children, and dipping your feet in the ultra marathon waters. I have contemplated running my first ultra as the next big goal but it doesn’t sound like it’s for me, especially after I just burned out on a plan that called for running four to five times per week. I’ll stick to three times a week, thank you very much. I would like to get into trail running, however.
Looking Back at 2015
Here are the highlights for me for 2015 — a wide range of things that made me feel proud. I’ve put links to posts I wrote if you’d like to read more about any particular item.
- Qualified for Boston 2016 in a PR time of 3:36:58 at the Phoenix Marathon in February
- Used my own compost to grow a great summer harvest of tomatoes, basil, and hot peppers
- Helped create a team of 53 members for the iCureMelanoma 5K to raise $5,418 for melanoma research
- Volunteered each week at my girls’ school, working both in the classrooms and in the school library
- Crossed off a bucket list item when my girls and I volunteered at the Girls on the Go Los Angeles Half Marathon in Bonelli Park
- Proofread a friend’s memoir of her experience growing up under the oppression of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia
- Set a PR in the 5K of 22:19 at the Downtown Anaheim 5K in June
- Harvested over 200 pounds of lemons with my teenager and donated them to a local food bank
- Qualified for Boston 2017 by a 15 minute, 52 second margin at the REVEL Canyon City Marathon in November
- Performed with my middle daughter in six shows of The Nutcracker in December
- Reached out to ElliptiGO and overcame my nervousness about trying something new, and was handsomely rewarded with finding a new workout I absolutely love!
- Got a job for the first time in 13 years (aside from writing/blogging), working in the school district as a substitute assistant in the special education classrooms
- Wrote up a training plan for my husband and teenager to train for their first half marathons next June, the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon
Looking Forward to 2016
I am eager to see what 2016 has in store for me! My first day on the new job is tomorrow, working 12-3 in the special education classroom at my girls’ school! The next race on my calendar is the Boston Marathon in April — my first time running that race and my 7th marathon overall.
My sweet friends insisted that I take a photo in my prized new Boston jacket that Mike gave me for Christmas!
The only other race on my calendar is the Fontana Days Run Half Marathon in June. If the budget allows (i.e., I get enough work substituting in the district and my husband gets a new job), I hope to try my first big trail race (a half marathon, a full, or maybe even a 50K in spite of what I said about ultras not being for me — the Chino Hills Trail Run Series 50K is so close by and the timing would be perfect in November).
What are you proud of from 2015? What are you looking forward to in 2016?
Read Full Post »