Discovering Tempo Runs

I'm currently using Active Trainer's Beginner's Marathon Training Plan. Every morning I get an email telling me what the workout for the day is supposed to be. Today's workout was supposed to be an easy run for 45 minutes and this "Coaches Notes" was listed:

Tempo runs are to be done at a pace where you could carry on a conversation but you would prefer not to. However, you are not to reach an anaerobic pace. On all tempo runs: warm up for at least 10 minutes, sustain your pace for the designated time and cool down for at least 10 minutes (i.e. 45 min. (T) = 10 minutes of warm up, 25 minutes of sustained effort, and 10 minutes of cool down). Recommended heart rate is 85% of your maximum.

I've always shrugged my shoulders at instructions like this because while I know in theory what a Tempo Run is, I just had no idea of what my pace was supposed to be. Until now.

A few days ago Runners Rambles wrote a fantastic blog post and referenced McMillan's Running Calculator. I hadn't heard of it before and was intrigued, so I clicked on the link.

Whoa! I was blown away by what I found! All I had to do was enter my PR for a specific distance and it told me every pace I should be running for every distance and training run!


How did I ever train for a race without this! Which brings me to today's run.

After yesterday's disappointing attempt at run, I crossed my fingers, hoping today would be better. Now that I had some guidelines for what my pace for Tempo Runs should be, I hopped on the treadmill in the mini-gym at work, to give it a try.

I warmed up for 5 min, walking at 3.5, then ran for 10 minutes at 5.0, then hit my tempo pace for 25 minutes. Since this was the first time I was trying this, I stuck to the slower range of a 10:14 min/mile. Well, the treadmill only has a 10:20 min/mile (5.8) and a 10:09 min/mile (5.9). I decided to split the time doing 12.5 min at 5.8, then 12.5 min at 5.9. Hopefully that averages out to 10:14 min/mile.

During the run I took advantage of being alone in the mini-gym and started to belt out Britney Spear's "Circus." Until, at the corner of my eye, I saw another person in the room lifting weights. Horrified, I shut-up immediately. But I think he was embarrassed for me and left shortly thereafter.

Being alone again, I started singing Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling", with a lot of feeling. Half-way through the song I realized that another guy had walked-in and was lifting weights. I couldn't believe it happened twice! How embarrassing. After that I learned my lesson and just stopped.

Soon, I got into "my zone" and was completely focused. Even when my legs started to tire, I blocked it out and kept going until time ran out.

I used to regularly attend Body Combat, a mixed martial arts class. It remains one of my most favorite workouts ever. It made me feel, strong, powerful, invincible - like I could take on anything and anyone. Then I got injured. I haven't been back to the class since and haven't felt that mental toughness either. Its been in 10 months. With this run, I feel like I got a little bit of it back, and it feels so good!

I'm so happy that me and the Treadmill made up today...but I can't wait for my outdoor 8-miler on Saturday.