The Tempo Run

In all Run Less, Run Faster plans, you do three run workouts per week…a track workout (intervals), a tempo run, and a long run. Each workout comes with a specific set of paces based on your 5K PR.

I greatly enjoy the long run. I seem to be built for slow endurance, so I relish the hours spent meandering my way through 10+ miles of bike path in the city I call my running mecca. Track workouts make me feel like a total badass. I’ve never had the treadmill set above 7.0, so it’s a huge accomplishment for me to do 800, 1000, and 1200 intervals at 7.0+ MPH on a treadmill. I set the treadmill and try not to fall off. I also REALLY enjoy the active recoveries. My legs feel like jello and I just shuffle along, feeling my heartrate come down and my breathing get more under control.

Tempo runs are the bane of my existence. I can certainly hold a 9:20 pace for 5 miles, but do I really want to when I’m not in the middle of a race? NO! So for your enjoyment, here’s my thought processes (processi?) on my tempo run this morning. (Note: I watch Parks and Rec on Netflix during my treadmill runs. I am not allowed to watch Parks and Rec outside of the treadmill. It keeps me going, folks.)

Mile 0. Warm up. 5.5mph. 10:54 pace. Wake up, legs. Wake up, head. Wake up, wake up, wake up. 5.5mph feels good. I could just leave it at this pace for the entire 7 miles. I don’t need to bump it up to 6.4. No…then it would take too long and I wouldn’t have time to stretch and drink my coffee without feeling rushed. Awww…Andy finally figured out that April likes him and that he likes April. Yay!

BEEP! 6.4 MPH.

Mile 1. Ugh. This is too fast. No way can I hold this pace for 5 WHOLE miles. Time to turn on the fan. .2 miles?! How has it only been .2 miles?! Ok…no more looking at the screen. Focus on Parks and Rec. .5 miles?! Maybe I’ll cover the screen up with my towel. No, last time I tried that it kept falling off, which only made me mad, which made the run suck that much more. Next time I need to tape a notecard over it. At least the blister between my toes has gone numb now.

Mile 2. Ok…one mile down….4 miles to go. FOUR?! Ugh. (This is the point where I start to do math in my head.) If I make it halfway…that’s 3.5 miles…I’ll hop off and go get a towel. My glasses are slipping off my face. This is annoying. I just want to be done. I want breakfast.

Mile 3. Almost halfway there. Almost?! Come on, legs. Keep going. It would hurt really bad to smack into the wall behind me. Plus, it would wake up the boys. Wait…is that the bedroom light? Did I wake up, Mr. Neon?

Mile 3.5. Halfway! Woohoo! Only 3.5 more miles to go and the sun isn’t even up yet. I’m going to have plenty of time to enjoy my coffee. Wait…do I smell coffee?! Is Mr. Neon making coffee now?! Why is he awake?! Oh! I was going to get a towel. Nah…I don’t need a towel. I can do this without a break.

Mile 4.0. Three miles down, only two fast ones to go. I wish I remembered what I set the cool down at. Was it 6.0? I don’t want to run that one at 6.0. I’ll bump it down. That’s only one more minute. Oh look, April kissed Andy. Andy, don’t tell her that Ann just kissed you! IDIOT.

Mile 5.0. ONE MORE MILE left. I can do this. It doesn’t even really feel hard anymore. I don’t even care about the screen anymore. I wonder if Ben and Leslie are going to start dating.


Mile 6.0. Tempo done. Thank goodness. Oh screw it! I’m walking for 1/10th of a mile. (I bumped it down to 4.0.) And how smart am I that I set the cool down to 5.5? Less than 10 minutes and I’ll have finished 7 miles on a Thursday BEFORE work. Oh yeah…I’m awesome.

Tempo runs…they suck, but man, I can feel them making me stronger with each uncomfortable mile!

Oh and for a funny story… Mr. Neon was doing his pre-run business when I got off the treadmill. I walked past the door and he says, “I heard you pushing buttons in there. You slowed down some, didn’t you?” I looked at him in disgust, “No! I was turning the fan up. I turned it up one notch at every mile. It gave me something to look forward to!” HA!

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