Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tempo Run

Today I ran my first "tempo" run. My friends that are experienced runners all talk about the tempo run. They say that getting your body used to running faster will benefit you in the long run. When I arrived at Central Park at 5:55am, I definitely didn't feel like running fast. I really enjoy running comfortably, but I also realize that I need to do some harder running if I want to get faster. I told myself that I would run hard as long as I felt good. Our first mile split, running clockwise in Central Park was 7:55 (net uphill, average heart rate 149). I felt pretty good. I was running with my friend BGR, and he felt good too, so we decided to continue to run hard. Mile 2 felt good and was faster at a 7:35 split (net downhill, average heart rate 157). Mile 3 is tough and includes the great hill on the west and east side of the park, so I knew that this would be the toughest mile. We ran this at a 7:37 split (net uphill, average heart rate 161). At that point I was tired and wanted to slow down, but we both still felt pretty good, so we continued to push. The mile 4 split was 7:40 (net uphill again, average heart rate 170). I was still feeling good, although getting tired supported by my now much higher heart rate. Knowing that the upcoming mile 5 is net downhill, we continued to push. BGR left the park at 72nd and I continued on. I hit the lap button on my watch so BGR and I could compare the splits on our Garmin watches (yes, we are nerds into the stats), so the distance in this lap of 0.51 miles was 7:11 per mile (net downhill, average heart rate 171). We were now running negative splits, feeling pretty good. I pressed on, knowing that mile 4.5 to 6.0 is net uphill again. From mile 4.5-5.5, I ran a 7:38 split, average heart rate 175. Steady eddie, although definitely looking forward to being done. For the last half mile, I decided to push, running hard. With a quarter mile to go, I ran into my friend JW who had just run the 6 mile loop in 41:19 (sub 7 pace through hilly central park is most impressive JW, well done!, and he looked great, like he hadn't even been running). He said "you know, you have to run hard up the last hill", which is a very steep hill that exits the park at 72nd street. I wasn't feeling it, but I did it anyway, sprinting almost as hard as I could up the hill. My last 0.44 mile split was 6:50 per mile (net way uphill, average heart rate 181). I was pleased with this, as my long term goal is to run a 3 to 5 mile race in under 7:00 per mile. Hopefully, this tempo run will help me get there. Thanks to JW for pushing me to come today. Thanks to BGR for pushing and for a great run. I'm happy I ran hard and am looking forward to an easy 9:00 per mile run tomorrow morning. Overall, I ran the 6 miles at an average pace of 7:35 for 6 miles, average heart rate 164.

A link to my splits from my Garmin 405 watch is below:

For me, my normal "comforable" pace that I can hold for long distances without being miserable and without working hard is 8:20 per mile. My race pace for a 4-6 mile race ranges from 7:11 per mile to 7:39 per mile. My tempo run today was faster than I have ever run a training race in Central Park (I ran a 10-K race in December (6.2 miles) at 7:39 per mile. Central Park is extremely hilly, so I'm pleased with the 7:35 time and the negative splits.

After my run, I decided to look around on the internet for the definition of a tempo run. says - Tempo running is one of the most effective methods for building up your speed during a race. It will train your body as well as your mind for a faster race. From expert trainers to elite athletes, all consider tempo running as an essential step to increase running speed and get more success. A tempo run will effectively help your body get used to moving at a constant higher rate for a period of time.

What Is Tempo Running? When you are running at a speed which is just above your usual running comfort, but is lower than your maximum capacity, you are running at tempo pace. To put simply, it is a run in which you put your 75 % effort. This aerobatic workout will gradually increase your ability to run at a greater speed. Scientifically, during the tempo run you are performing at your lactate threshold capacity. At, not above. When you are running at your lactate threshold capacity, you do not build up lactic acid in your legs. When you build up lactic acid in your legs, your legs get heavy. You will want to run at a pace just below that level. This type of training will help increase your lactate threshold. This means that, over time, you can run faster without getting heavy legs. So, do your tempo runs and this will help you increase your running speed. Tempo runs also help you get ready for race conditions in which you will usually run faster. They will help you mentally accept the fact that you are going to run at a faster speed over a specified distance during a race. Doing tempo run means you are running at a controlled pace. It pushes your comfort levels up a bit and this allows you to gradually adjust yourself to running races.

Your goal is to run at a very steady pace/effort for the length of the tempo run, which is simply a lot tougher when you have to battle hills. When you want to increase your running speed and get ready for running races, there is almost no better workout than tempo runs. They are a very effective way of increasing your lactate threshold so you are able to sustain faster running for a longer period of time.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the new blog -- and your first tempo run!
    I see many PRs in your near future.