Tuesday Talk #1: Speedwork (Tempo Runs)

Monday’s Workout

– 3 mile slow run on T/M (10:00 pace)
– Spin class

I had a BIG pre-workout snack yesterday – my standard mini Larabar, and some chips and guacamole left over from Sunday night’s fajita dinner! I left an avocado seed in the guac and stored it in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent browning.  Sure enough, no brown guacamole yesterday!larabar cherry pie chips and guac

I was a little nervous going for a run yesterday, because I have HUGE blisters on my feet from last week’s run where I tried to correct my form. Luckily, they didn’t hurt at all! I’m glad I took the weekend off to let them heal a little.

I’m starting a new series on this blog called Tuesday Talk, where I’ll tackle a running topic that I’ve been researching and how it might make you a better runner!

Tuesday Talk: Speedwork (Tempo Runs)

Last year when I was training for my first marathon, I concentrated on getting my runs done at whatever speed felt comfortable because my goal was simply to be able to run the distance and finish the race.  When I started setting goal times for races this year, I realized that despite the fact that I intended to run faster, I was still doing my workouts at the same 10 min pace I had trained for last year! A few months ago, I came across an Active.com article that explained that our bodies can get accustomed to running a particular pace, and I realized that I needed to start incorporating speedwork into my runs to push myself out of that comfort zone!

comfort zone cartoon

Speedwork comes in many forms and under many names – fartleks, hill repeats, pyramids, tempos, to name just a few – and different types of training are beneficial in different ways (Runner’s World has a great article on the differences between fartleks, intervals and tempos and the benefits to each).

I’ve been focusing mostly on tempo runs because they’re particularly beneficial to long distance runners as they help you increase endurance and speed.  Tempo runs are done at your lactate threshold (LT), so they’re also called LT pace runs.  Training at your LT pace helps your cells get more efficient at clearing out lactic acid buildup in the muscles, which allows you to run longer more comfortably and at an overall faster pace over time.  It also builds up more capillaries in the muscles (although I think cross training can do this as well) to increase oxygen flow to the muscles and increase your VO2Max.  Okay, that’s about all the science I can absorb right now!

There are lots of ways to do tempo runs; the key is to run at a “comfortably hard” pace that you can maintain for a few miles.  You can try using 30-45 sec slower than your 5K pace as a guide and see how that feels.  Here’s some tempo runs to try!

Sandwich: Run 0.5-1 mile at an easy pace, then pick it up to your tempo pace for 2-3 miles.  Finish with another 0.5-1 mile at an easy pace.

Progressive: Run one mile at an easy pace, perhaps about 1-2 min slower than your 5K pace.  For the next two-three miles, pick up the pace by 10-15 seconds each mile! For me, this looks like 10:00 first mile, 9:45 second mile, 9:30 third mile, and 9:15 fourth mile.

Negative Split: Run 2 miles easy, then pick up the pace to tempo for 2 miles for a total run of 4 miles. 

empo Interval: Run 5 min easy, 5 min at tempo pace (can do slightly faster if you want).  Repeat 3 times.

I’ve started looking forward to my tempo runs on Tuesdays because it’s fun to mix it up! I most frequently do my tempo work on a treadmill, since it makes it so easy to monitor my pace, but I also think it’s also important to take it outside every once in a while to make sure you are running at that comfortably hard pace.  A note of warning: Don’t make every run a tempo run! Tempo runs are considered hard workouts, and over-training by doing it more than once or twice a week can lead to injury.

This post is by no means comprehensive, so here’s some other resources to check out on tempo runs (some mentioned above):

4 Tempo Run Workouts from Active.com

Fartlek, Tempo and Interval Runs from Runner’s World

Run Faster with Lactate Threshold Training from Suite 101

Learn How to Do a Perfect Tempo Run from Runner’s World

Hope you enjoyed this Tuesday Talk! Go do a tempo run :)

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2 thoughts on “Tuesday Talk #1: Speedwork (Tempo Runs)

  1. Pingback: Tuesday Talk #2: Intervals | sneaker∙therapy

  2. Pingback: Long Beach Marathon Training Begins! | sneaker∙therapy

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