19 August 2011

Key Run #2- Tempo Run

A tempo run begins with easy running for 1 to 2 miles before the faster "tempo" phase of the workout.  You should gradually increase your pace so that you are close to tempo pace at the end of the warm up.  The tempo portion is typically 3-5 miles at 10K pace or slightly slower (yes, there is a detailed pace chart for this run too!) and the workout ends with a nice 1 mile cool down.

The purpose of a tempo workout is to improve endurance by raising your lactate threshold.  Lactate threshold is a measure of metabolic fitness and lactate's accumulation in the blood is used to evaluate the intensity a runner can keep over long long periods of time.  Basically, the higher my lactate threshold becomes, the longer I can run at a high intensity. 

The first week on the program I wimped out and used the treadmill to force me to keep the fast pace.  All I had to do was push a button and keep moving my feet so I didn't go flying off the back of the machine.  Last week I knew I had to face the music and hit the pavement, and luckily I found the perfect spot to do these tempo runs.  Tacoma is quite hilly, with plenty of turns and stop lights on most of my usual routes and I didn't really think that would work for these tempo runs.  Then I remembered Dock Street down by the Museum of Glass- it is relatively flat, there is only one stoplight (that I hardly ever have to stop for) and is a perfect one mile stretch!  Oh, and the scenery is nice and there is a bathroom if I need it with a water fountain.  Perfect, perfect, perfect!!

The view from the parking lot where I start my tempo runs
The awesome scenery (minus the chain-link fence) of downtown Tacoma!
So yesterday morning I headed down there for the second week in a row- my agenda was a 2 mile warm up, 3 miles at "short" tempo pace (8:39) and then a 1 mile cool down.  The weather was perfect, sunny with a nice breeze and as I got out of my car I was actually a bit chilly - but that only lasted for about 2 minutes though.  My 2 mile warm up was good, but I wasn't feeling too speedy and I was a little bit nervous.  I tried doing some strides and picking the pace up in the last half mile and my legs just felt a bit heavy. 

Basically I run one mile down, turn around and run one mile back.  Over and over.  Tedious?  Maybe a bit, but it is actually not too bad- I enjoy the scenery and the people down there are really interesting to watch.  And I can use my car as a fuel/water station instead of carrying everything, so that is nice too.  Mile 1- 9:35, Mile 2: 9:15.

Railroad tracks and cool buildings near the 1 mile turnaround
Then it was time for the tempo portion- I set out and for some reason couldn't get a grasp on an 8:39 pace.  I don't know what it was, but it just would not appear on my Garmin.  It kept staying in the low 8's, sometimes even 7:57 or so and I was forcing myself to take it easy- I had to run several more miles!  So I just ran and kept repeating to myself "I am strong, I can do this" over and over.  It felt good.  Mile 3- 8:27!  I turned and headed back towards my car- it was easier in this direction because the wind was blowing the same direction I was running.  I just kept running and the pace felt almost good to me- uncomfortable but not like I wanted to stop.  Mile 4- 8:25! 

Don't be alarmed- there wasn't a black hole where I was running- just my big thumb in
the way of the camera lense!   
Well, now there was only one tempo mile left so I just decided to run it with what felt like a difficult pace.  Into the wind this time, my mantra turned into "I am strong.  The wind is strong.  I am stronger" and I just kept pushing myself.  My legs were jello and my breathing was hard when my Garmin finally beeped- Mile 5- 8:13!  I was well under my planned 8:39 tempo pace for each mile, not sure what to make of that.  I slowed my pace and started my final mile back to my car, happy to be done with yet one more awesome workout!  Mile 6- 9:19.  Excellent.
I know you have been missing a photo of my lovely, bright red and sweaty face! 
I am happy to have a rest day today- after 6 straight days of exercising and 5 days of actual work, this is one worn out runner girl!  I am going to spend my day of rest at the lake with the kids and some friends, then maybe do a bit of back to school shopping- 2 weeks until the first day of school!  Is there any better feeling than knowing you have "earned" a day off to rest?  Anybody have some fun plans or races this weekend?  Enjoy your weekend!

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