Tempo run (kind of, not really)

The upside of doing most of my runs slowly is that it then feels so damn good when I get to run FAST!

It’s been discouraging to see splits well over 9:00 pop up on my watch mile after mile, even though I’m doing that on purpose and it’s supposed to help me run faster for longer in the end. For a minute there, I started to believe I couldn’t run faster than that anymore.

And then yesterday’s run happened. See that 8:05 mile? That felt SO good. Dropped it like it was hot.


The only problem was that this was supposed to be a three-mile tempo run, which I mistakenly defined in my brain as, “Run one mile easy, run the second mile fast (but not all-out), run the last mile easy.”

No. That’s not it.

Hal Higdon says:

“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. 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.”

Noted! I’ve changed the tempo runs on my training plan to be time-based (30 minutes, 40 minutes, etc.) rather than mileage-based, since time seems to be more important for this workout. I don’t have a perfect idea of my current 10K pace since I haven’t raced a 10K in years, but my recent 15K race pace was 8:12, so I imagine my 10K pace would be a little faster. I’ll aim to gradually speed up to 8:10-8:15 to be “near” 10K pace in my tempo runs.

Anyway! I’m 3/3 on waking up early to run this week!!! Magic, I tell you.

However, I’ve discovered a few downsides to morning running:

1. I get tired during the workday (and I don’t drink coffee, so that’s not a solution). Maybe this is just due to waking up earlier, and I’ll get used to it. I went to bed at 9:00 — aka when it was still light out — on Wednesday because I was exhausted. I usually go to bed around 10:15-10:30. I like getting 7-8 hours of sleep, but going to bed at 9:00 is not super-fun.

2. Since I’ve already run, I feel like I have license to eat treats during the day — which is fine, in moderation — but it’s not fine to indulge multiple times a day, every day. The fit of my jeans tells me I’ve gotta rein it in.

3. I feel lazy in the evenings. I’m used to spending my evenings running, then eating dinner and watching TV with Aaron. Now I’m just eating dinner and watching TV, and I’ve practically forgotten about the fact that I already ran because it feels like million years ago. I think I’ll fix this by reintroducing strength training into my routine in the evenings, likely on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Maybe it’ll just take a bit for my body and brain to adjust to this whole morning running thing, so I’ll give it another week or two before I make a decision to go back to evenings.

Are you a morning runner, an evening runner, or a midday runner? Or do you just mix it up and fit in your runs whenever you feel like running?

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