tempo run newbie.
I did it. I accomplished my first official tempo run. Granted, it was a short one but it was a tempo run nonetheless. What’s a tempo run, you ask?
Runtowin.com states that . . .
“according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary (see tempo and pace), is a ‘rate of performance at a steady pace.’ Tempo runs are workouts where you run at a steady pace that is around 70% to 80% of your max aerobic capacity. Tempo runs are just past the point where you begin to build up waste product in your legs at a rapid rate during a run, which is called the lactate-threshold velocity.”
Runner’s World also adds . . .
“Studies indicate that the best predictor of distance-running performance is your lactate threshold, which is the speed you are able to run before lactic acid begins to accumulate in the blood. By regularly including tempo runs in your training schedule, you will increase the speed that you can run before lactic acid begins to slow you down. To use a car analogy, tempo runs will allow your engine to rev faster without red-lining. Before tempo training, you may have red-lined at an 8-minute-per-mile pace. After a few months of tempo runs, you won’t red-line until you reach a 7:30-per-mile pace.”
About.com explains how . . .
“start your run with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running to warm up, then continue with 15 to 20 minutes of running about 10 seconds slower than your 10k pace. Finish with 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down. If you’re not sure what your 10k pace is, run at a pace that feels ‘comfortably hard.’ You can also use your breathing as your guide. For an easy-paced run, most runners take three footstrikes while breathing in and two footstrikes while breathing out. For tempo runs, you should be at two footstrikes while breathing in and one footstrike while breathing out. If you’re breathing faster than that, your pace is too fast.”
Since I’m a newbie at tempo runs, I kept it simple. My goal yesterday was to do an easy 1 mile run, 3 miles at a faster pace, and another easy mile for cool down. I started out doing my first mile, quite easily and slowly, and I began feeling a pain in my abdomen, almost like it was my bladder, so I stopped and used the restroom, 3 laps into an 8-lap, 1 mile run. After my little break, I started running again and felt the pain once more. Like, every time my feet hit the ground, I would feel sharp pains in the bladder area. I decided to finish the next 5 laps to complete one mile and then use the restroom again. Very odd to have that pain but knowing full well that my system didn’t really need to go. So yes, another bathroom break (just in case) before I started the tempo portion of my run.
I went ahead and decided to take it easier and just see how my body felt as the minutes ticked on. I wasn’t sure at that point if I could run three tempo miles. I completed my first warm-up, easy mile in 11:36. The next two miles, tempo pace, were faster and thankfully the pain subsided, for the most part, as I ran more. I finished the 1st tempo mile in 9:45 and the 2nd tempo mile in 9:27. Though the pain was overall gone, I decided to stop at this point, so I ran one more mile, cool down, at a slower pace, finishing it in 11:01. A total of 4 miles in 42:04.
I’m kind of thinking that I need to run my tempo miles at a 9-minute-per-mile pace, but this is hard for me to gauge since I’ve been relying on my Garmin 305 to pace these last several months. Now, since I run at an indoor track and don’t have the corresponding footpod for my Garmin (satellite link-up to tell me my pace), I’m at the mercy of my old Ironman triathlon watch (for the chronograph feature) and pretty much, listening to my body. I’m actually glad I can’t rely on my Garmin. Running Garmin-less forces me to listen to my body, my breathing, every nuance that I feel. It’s nice to run based on feel, to see if I can challenge myself physically and mentally. I’m learning what an easy run is, what a comfortably hard pace is, and what race pace is for me. I’m also learning when to push through pain and discomfort and when to slow down and stop. All good things, I think.
I’m hoping by incorporating weekly tempo runs, I will be able to run a faster 5k. Here’s to hoping and trying!