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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mental BREAKTHROUGH - tempo run

I took Christmas day off from the run and just rode the trainer. I have been trying to build my cycling base up – this has been a lot of steady state riding at moderately / low intensity. I also rode the trainer the day after Christmas but I was ready to hit the pavement. I am trying to make most of my running miles count – no garbage miles. Having read a number of books they always seem to state that there are really only three runs that push improvement.


  1. Hard Intervals at or above VO2MAX – example Yasso 800’s or ¼ miles or mile repeats.
  2. Tempo runs at LT (lactate threshold / anaerobic threshold – your maximum intensity that you can hold for about an hour).
  3. Distance runs – long runs at a steady pace
Everything else is supposed to be extraneous – although if you talk to anyone that is fast they will tell you that there is no substitute for mileage. Go figure.

Anyway that being said I was going to go for a tempo run at just above what I believe to be my LT – which is in the mid 170’s by heart rate. This is a hard area to run – a hard area for me to sustain. It is easy for me to let my mind wander and slow down a bit. It is easy for me to think about the discomfort and want to slow down a bit. It is easy to want to stop.

Last Tuesday (Monday was an off running day following the half marathon PR on Sunday) I tried to see how I would have felt / faired if I would have raced at my own pace (instead of following a faster runner and blowing up and suffering through 11.5 miles of the race). I set the ‘virtual trainer’ on the GPS watch for 5 miles at a 7 minute pace. I could not do it. I gave in to the voices – my legs were dead and I was hurting. I turned around at 1.5 miles and slowed way down.

Well, yesterday I decided to not look at the pace (much) and I wanted to do a mile warm up and then push the pace at LT for 4 miles. Then follow up with a mile cool down. The temperature was only in the 50’s but I was looking for excuses and felt cold. I warmed up a little during the ‘warm up’ but my heart rate seemed a little high for the pace I was running. My feet were hurting and I stopped to adjust the laces. I picked the pace up at the one mile mark and it was hard. I already doubted myself. I pushed on and it was still hard – but I was not going to be defeated this time. I had a real mental toughness BREAKTHROUGH with this run. No – I never fell into some kind of bliss zone – it was hard the entire time but I did not stop and I did not slow down (well the first mile was a little fast). I passed a guy and his daughter who were riding bikes – yes they were riding slow – but the guy said that he had never been passed by a jogger before. We were going close to the same pace and I could not slow down – not even just a little bit. I HAD to keep it up!

I got a huge amount of satisfaction from this run! Tempo runs are always hard for me – especially when I run them alone. It is much easier for me to run hard during a race or with someone who is a little faster than me. Others really push me and allow for me to excel. When out there by myself it is a different story.

Miles –

WU – 1 mile
1. 6:21 HR AVE 168
2. 6:40 HR AVE 175
3. 6:39 HR AVE 177
4. 6:40 HR AVE 178
CD – 1 mile

3 comments:

  1. There are definitely two schools of thought on the running. Some people run short distances daily to build massive volume, others follow the three you noted above. Given my injury history, I do just three - speed work, tempo (replaced by a mid-to-long run during late IM training) and long - and it seems to work well for me. Good luck getting back in the pool :)

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  2. I share your tempo pain, but from my experience this summer, if you stick with them, they can get a tiny bit better (easier). I have run tempos for a while, but this summer was the first time i consistently ran tempo runs. I was doing a 9 day rotating schedule so my tempo runs were 9 days apart. I enjoyed the 9 day schedule and finally managed to run the tempos a little more comfortable, late season.

    I have done both. The Furman Plan and higher mileage. I see value in both and may need to resort to the FP when I start back, but I have run my very best on higher mileage incorporating the 3 quality runs over 9 days. Basically, I had a hard day (tempo, track, or long) followed by 2 days of either easy mileage or cross training, and then another hard day, etc. etc. So to complete the cycle took 9 days. I did it this way for more recovery so that I could run the hard days harder, all while upping my mileage.

    Everyone is different so experiment to see what works best for you long term. Keep us posted.

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