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Friday, July 22, 2016

A better tempo

I mentioned last week that I have struggled with my tempo runs - basically with the part that makes them a tempo, NOT STOPPING!
The way my schedule is set up, I run track on Tuesday (8 to 10 miles), rest on Wednesday, then tempo on Thursday (up to 11 miles now and climbing). So far, Thursdays have been hard for me: I get up early to fit the miles in, so I'm tired, and I'm running in heavy early morning humidity. The no-stops-for-water part has been impossible. But this Thursday was a slight improvement: I think I'm headed in the right direction.

Thursday should have been awful: I had to get out of the house very early so I could be at work an hour early for some training, and a late coffee on Wednesday meant I was up all night and only got about three hours of sleep. But something else was different, and in a good way: I wasn't running on totally rested legs. I ran four miles the night before because of the Summer Series two mile race. And instead of making my legs heavy and tired, I was more ready to run. I have always known that I don't run well the day after a rest day: that's why I run even the day before a marathon. So perhaps I need to swap an easy day on my schedule with my Wednesday rest day.

Not that my tempo was perfect. I actually had two small stops - one right at the turnaround point in the 7-mile tempo, but that was just to very quickly tie my shoe, and I waited until the turnaround when I'd be slowing to make a tight U-turn on the levee anyway to minimize the benefit from rest; the other was just mentally giving up. I planned my tempo on the Fly (the park on the river) and the levee so it would be a straight out and back with no temptation to stop at a water fountain. However, I DID pass a fountain: right at the beginning and end of the tempo I passed the fountain on the Fly. At mile 6.15 I stopped for water! And that was just me being a wimp. Of course as soon as I stopped I was kicking myself when I saw how close I was to being entirely finished. I ended up with a 7:12 average, which is the low end of my goal. If I exclude the last mile (assuming I had a speed benefit from my water break) it was a 7:13 average.

Two take-aways from this Thursday's tempo:

  1. I run fast better if I don't take a rest day first
  2. I need to plan a route away from tempting fountains

Perhaps it's time to make some schedule and route changes!


  1. Man, those tempo runs. I'm not sure I've ever gotten through one without stopping for water. And I don't even have the humidity to contend with. Probably something I should also work on.

  2. Our definitions of tempo are different, but it sounds like you're doing some solid, long T work!

  3. Way to go on hitting the faster end of your pace goal. I definitely could not fun that far without stopping for water, but I'm the kind of runner that needs to drink every couple of miles, especially when it's so hot out!

  4. I'm definitely a stop-and-drink runner! Even on easy runs, I tend to need water every 2-3 miles, and I usually end up stopping for it (rather than carrying a bottle).