Reflections From My First “Tempo Run”

I put “Tempo Run” in quotes because I’m not entirely convinced I did it right.  But anyway, that’s what I did last night.

At the gym, I grabbed a treadmill and set out for a 10 minute warm up, working my way up from a slow walk, to a fast walk, to a slow run, to my goal race pace of 10ish minute miles.  Since my goal is a sub-2:30 half, I only need to average 10:30 miles, but I’d like to do even better than that, hence the slightly quicker pace.

My training plan said to run 30 minutes at tempo, and honestly, during the first 5 minute or so at a pace of 10:10 minutes per mile, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.  I thought very seriously about stopping, or alternating some walk breaks, or lowering my pace.  But I told myself to suck it up, and after that first 5 or so minutes, I felt fine.  Great even.  By the end of my 30 minute tempo run, I was gunning it at a 9:40 pace, which, for me, is pretty dang speedy.  I finished and felt really strong and happy.

Last night made me realize a few things.  First, I was reminded once again how much of running is mental for me.  Once I made up my mind to just suck it up and finish, I did fine.  I stopped focusing on how hard it was, and just did it.  My new mantra for treadmill running, courtesy of Ben’s Dad, is “Become one with the tedium.”  Sort of like “embrace the suck,” but a little more zen 🙂

Second, I figured out that I NEED a good, long, gradual warm-up.  For most of my runs, especially outdoor runs or when I’m short on time, I do ZERO warm up.  I just start out at my average pace for whatever type of run I’m doing, and go.  And I usually feel like crap during the first portion of my runs.  It takes forever to settle into a groove, and I always want to stop or slow down.  If I took the time to properly warm up before every run, I’d probably feel a lot better throughout.

Third, I realized that I’m a lot faster than I used to be.  During that last portion of the run where I was going at a 9:40 pace, I kept running into the front of the treadmill, like my body was telling me it could go even faster, wanted to go even faster.  Let’s do it, body!

Lastly, watching Netflix on my phone while running on the treadmill makes everything better.  I’m working my way through Charmed right now, and up next is probably CSI Miami.

Bonus:  Eating dinner and drinking a beer in bed while watching Futurama is my favorite “recovery.”

Photo Aug 26, 7 37 21 PM

Do you include a warm up in your workout?

Do you ever do tempo runs?

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26 thoughts on “Reflections From My First “Tempo Run”

  1. prairieprincessrunners says:

    Yes and Yes. My warm ups are either just speed walking for about 5 minutes or a slower mile run to warm up, depending on what I am doing. And tempo runs…oy! I did one yesterday too and I was spent when it was over!

  2. kebe51 says:

    OK, you are way too speedy for me! Hitting 9:40 at the end?!?! OMG! Way to go! That’s freaking awesome! And yeah, my DVR is chock full of movies/tv shows to watch while running…definitely helps with the distraction. I even put the close captions on for the “reading” to add a little extra distracting…

    You are gonna KILL that sub 2:30!

  3. Healthy Simple Smart says:

    Loved this! You had so many great take aways from that run! I’m slowly but surely learning how to start slow with my runs also and it is making a huge difference. Totally jealous of your beer and dinner in bed recovery!

  4. SuzLyfe says:

    In my mind, a tempo run is any time I am going faster than necessary. So I would say that you killed it. My workout is my big ole stretching and loosening routine, but as I rarely do actual running workouts, warmups are usually just running lol

  5. charissarunning says:

    Awesome job with your run!! I love tempo runs – they’re a great way to get faster and they’re easier than hills and intervals to recover from as well. I usually do a mile warm-up and then a mile cool-down at the end. It’s a great way to add a couple miles to your run. And I love your recovery process! I do something similar and often recover with a glass of wine and a movie/TV show!

  6. dgobs says:

    Awesome awesome! Tempo runs are hard… I’ve really only managed to do it once (before I had to tone things down because of my shins). I didn’t realize how much my speed changes when I run until I tried to keep it steady!

    I am AWFUL at warming up properly, which I think is why the beginnings of all my runs are so painful and crappy. I do some dynamic stretching usually, and maybe some fast walking and/or jogging, but I’m realizing that it’s not enough for me. I need to keep experimenting to see what works!

  7. txa1265 says:

    Awesome job! I have definitely found that a quick stretch while GPS locks and then spending my first half-mile as a warm-up works pretty well for me. Warm-ups and cool downs can also really help with injury prevention over long runs.

  8. Amy says:

    Great job! I try to do tempo runs about ever other week, but they are definitely not my favorite. I always find myself wondering how on earth 30 minutes can feel sooo long! It’s the exact opposite of interval workouts which, to me, seem to just fly by. As for warm up, I just “let” myself run as slow as humanly possible until my legs stop feeling like they’re made of concrete. Sometimes that’s a quarter mile, today it was nearly three quarters.

  9. piratebobcat says:

    Nice recovery plan, ha! Way to crush the tempo. I don’t do them very smartly, I usually just say ‘I’m going to run hard today’ and then go. I always warm up with some jogging and dynamic stretching. Though not as much in the summer when the weather helps warm my muscles up!

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