Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tempo runs make me a headcase

If I had to choose my least favorite type of run, for sure it would be tempo runs.  I assume most of those who are actually reading this blog know what a tempo run is, but for the uninformed, basically it is a run where you are running at your "threshold pace" (10-20 seconds slower than your race-pace 10K pace, or 25-30 seconds slower than your race-pace 5K pace) for 20-30 minutes.  Words that are used by others to describe tempo runs: steady effort, comfortably hard, challenging yet managable... and my own word: HARD.   Here is a nice calculator for running paces.  For me, my tempo pace WAS around 8:25-8:30/mile, until my recent 5K... now it is sub-8:20!  For whatever reason, this is a hard pace for me to hit for continuous miles.  I think part of it is that I am by nature a negative-split runner.  I prefer to start slow and gradually increase my speed.  With a tempo run, I get a mile to warm-up, and then BAM, I am supposed to be running at a speed that is pretty uncomfortable for me, at least that early on, and for more than just a mile or two.  I can do 4-mile tempo runs (which are actually just 2 miles at tempo), but more than that just scares me!

I know I am overthinking things.  I get it, I do... but that doesn't make it any easier to do the tempo runs.  Today's run was a 5 mile tempo run, where the first mile was a warm-up, and then 3 miles at tempo pace before a 1 mile cool-down.  The plan I am using actually called for a quarter-mile "recovery jog" between each mile at tempo pace, but for me, once I am at that pace, it doesn't help me to slow down... quite the opposite, I have a lot of trouble getting back up to speed again.  So I skipped on the jogging and just did the 3 miles straight. 

Here were my splits: 

I knew from the start that today wasn't going to be my day when it came to running.  I rolled out of bed and just wasn't feeling it at all.  Once I finally got out the door, it was drizzling outside... no big deal, really.  I took the first mile relatively easy.  It always feels weird to me, the first half-mile or so of a run... like I don't really know how to run.  Anyway, the kinks got worked out, but I just felt tired.  Not sleepy; more like, my body was tired.  I knew it was going to be so hard to hit an 8:30 pace on mile #2.  Actually, when I looked at the graph of my run, I was fairly close to hitting around 8:30ish on mile 2 for the final half- to three-fourths of that mile.  It was the first quarter or so that I was just too slow.  Mile #3 was a bit better, and of course mile #4 was the best because I knew I was almost done!  Still not anywhere close to my "new" tempo pace, though.  This is how I felt after my run:

I have a huge tongue LOL!

As I ran, I told myself it was okay that I wasn't hitting my tempo pace today, that it was more about the effort.  I have read that exact thing--that tempo should be more about the effort than the precise numbers.  I just have trouble letting the numbers go (as a math teacher, that's not surprising!). 

One other annoying thing: my left foot fell asleep today at around mile #3.  I hate when it does that!  I had been doing some intense masssage on the trigger points in my feet, as recommended to me by a PT who has a FB page where he gives out advice to runners.  That actually seemed to do the trick, but I stopped, and I need to get back to doing it.  I took a nice ice bath after today's run, and foam rolled as well.  Feeling okay today, leg-wise.  Just TIRED!  Grateful for another rest day tomorrow. 

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