Today I did my “first” tempo run.
Now, I wasn’t 100% sure what to do. According to the training program that I am following, this is the description of a tempo run:
Tempo Runs: This is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. A Tempo Run of 30 to 45 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, build to 15-20 minutes near the middle, then 5-10 minutes easy toward the end. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout. Hold that peak only for a minute or two. I consider Tempo Runs to be the “Thinking Runner’s Workout.” A Tempo Run can be as hard or easy as you want to make it, and it has nothing to do with how long (in time) you run or how far. In fact, the times prescribed for Tempo Runs serve mainly as rough guidelines. Feel free to improvise. Improvisation is the heart of doing a Tempo Run correctly.
As you can see, that isn’t very clear. I’ve also seen them described as basically picking a comfortably hard pace and sticking to it. In that case, yesterday’s run, where I tried to keep below 9:00/mile was a tempo run. And I’ve also done a lot of other less purposeful runs were I’ve built up to higher paces near the middle (due to feeling warmed up) then became tired and slowed down near the end. So I guess I’ve been doing accidental tempo runs?
Anyway, what I decided I would do is run slow for 5 minutes, then run a little faster each time I reached another 5 minute mark until I hit 15 minutes. Then I would basically try to make sure I pushed myself as hard as I could until I reached 20 minutes (the 2/3 mark the training describes). After that, I would let myself slow down, but also gradually.
I did *okay*, or at least I tried.
You can see from this data that I did well with gradually getting up to speed (this is a chart of pace over time, so a higher point on the vertical axis means I’m going slower). I am not quite perfect, but that is to be expected without a treadmill. I’m even rather proud of how low I got my pace there near the end of the run – I was really feeling quite terrible at that point and the heart rate thing kept yelling at me, but I seem to on average be below the 8:00 pace I would expect to run in a 10K race, as the training suggests. I think I slacked off a bit on the cool down part, though. I probably should have pushed harder to slow down more gradually – as you can see, my cool down is WAY slower than my warm up (though I did technically run the first 5 minutes of it faster than the last 5 minutes). It’s possible that would not have worked, though – as you can see, my heart rate is sky high. Overall, I think such a workout will go far more smoothly on a treadmill, so we will see how it adjusts once I have access to one (starting next week).