Friday, January 10, 2014

What the Heck is a Tempo Run Anyway?

I'm loosely basing my training plan on Hal Higdon's Advanced I marathon plan, which called for a 30 minute tempo run this morning. This is what the plan says about tempo runs:

"A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. Notice I said "near" 10-K race pace. Coach Jack Daniels defines the peak pace for tempo runs at the pace you might run if racing flat-out for about an hour. That's fairly fast, particularly if the tempo run is 45 minutes long, but you're only going to be near peak pace for 3-6 minutes in the middle of the run. In the Advanced 1 programs, tempo runs also are scheduled for Thursdays. Here's how to do this workout. A tempo run of 30 to 40 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, build to peak speed during the next 10-20 minutes, then finish with 5-10 minutes easy running. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for those few minutes mentioned above. You can do tempo runs almost anywhere: on the road, on trails or even on a track. Tempo runs should not be punishing. You should finish refreshed, which will happen if you don't push the pace too hard or too long. It helps also to pick a scenic course for your tempo runs. You can do your tempo run with another runner, but usually it works better to run solo. There's less danger of going too slow or (more the problem) too fast if you choose his pace, not yours."

I haven't done any consistent speed work in years, and haven't raced a 10k with the exception of the Scuffle in ages. I have no idea what my 10k pace is. If I remember correctly my best college 10k was something like 44:40 or is it 40:44? Oh hell, I don't know. So, I decided that 7:30 would be a good pace for the "near" 10k pace. I mean, why not?

I headed out at 6:00 am, shining in the darkness with my headlamp, reflective gear and blinking light. I ran across the street on the Patriot Commons loop, adding on a 1/2 mile out and back on Rt. 201 for the last mile of the course. The first mile went by in an "easy" pace of 8:48, after which I started to pick up the pace for mile #2. Trying to make the uptick in pace gradual was a bit difficult. Mile #2 ended up being 7:52. When I started mile #3, I pushed the pace a little more and figured I would just try and hold that pace for the whole mile. Ended up with 7:31. Last mile, back to easy pace, was 8:19. Did I do what was called for? Not quite sure, but it did make me realize that I really need to work on some speed if I even plan to be able to run the marathon pace that I want to run! Also made me realize that perhaps speed work is better done in the light of day when I'm not dodging little sections of ice and worried about oncoming traffic ;)

Wore the F-Lites for the first time this morning. They felt a little tight in the toe area, probably because I was wearing thick wool socks and didn't have them laced quite properly. But otherwise, they felt good and light on my feet.


Kevin said...

Hey Danielle,

Good to see that you're getting the training bug back.

I tend to do my tempo runs based on perceived effort rather than pace, especially in the winter when the roads are slick or I'm doing the workout on trails. If the tempo is supposed to be around 10k pace, I shoot for 10k effort. If I'm doing a longer tempo at half marathon pace, I shoot for half marathon effort. This is especially helpful when your goal race is months away and you don't really feel sharp enough to run a certain pace. This can be tough if you obsess over numbers, but I always keep track of the overall pace in my log so I can track my improvement over the season. Forcing a certain pace based on mile splits can get you in trouble at times. Just my 2 cents. Enjoy the running!

Sparkplug said...

Thanks, Kevin. I really appreciate the input. I feel like I've been running on the trails for so long and mostly doing training for long stuff which mostly just meant getting out there and just going :-), so getting back into the groove of some sort of marathon training is bit daunting! I like the idea of effort, instead of pace. That makes so much sense! I mean, right now, I realize I'm in no shape to run a 3:15 to 3:30 marathon, but that's what I'd like to do in May. So it seems to make sense that a slower tempo pace would be harder now but might be easier in a few months. Thanks again!!

Jamie Anderson said...

Did you sign up for Maine Coast yet? I hear it's filling up very fast. Apparently, last week it quickly jumped to 60% full.