The Tempo Run

girl-running-fast-400x266Spring is finally here! The weather is warming up and the snow is melting fast! The temperature measured 49 Fahrenheit today. Time to skip the gym tomorrow morning and head outside for a Tempo run. The alarm clock is set to 5:00 a.m. But wait a minute! Do I really want to be out that early? The forecast is 33 Fahrenheit with a breeze at 7 m.p.h. Believe it or not, I think the range from just above freezing to about 55 Fahrenheit is the best running temperature, that is, as long as I keep running..

I’m expecting a hard, but sustainable run. A 5-miler is on the schedule, again with one mile of warm-up and another mile of cool-down. But what is the purpose of a Tempo run exactly? Why sustain a tempo for several miles that is faster than race pace? This is what I found on the Runner’s World website:

Why the Tempo Works…

Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. “Most runners have trained their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles,” says exercise scientist Bill Pierce, chair of the health and exercise science department at Furman University in South Carolina, “but they haven’t trained their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.”

I think this also means that you are training pretty close to your aerobic capacity, allowing you to push your “VO2max” threshold up as your training progresses. Runners’ World suggests to run the tempo run at 85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate (most common formula: HRmax = 220-age). Unfortunately, my heart rate monitor is still broken, so I’ll just go at a speed where I can no longer hold a conversation.

Here are a few tips from Runners’ World on how to find the right pace if you don’t have a heart rate monitor:

The Right Rhythm

To ensure you’re doing tempo workouts at the right pace, use one of these four methods to gauge your intensity.

Recent Race: Add 30 to 40 seconds to your current 5-K pace or 15 to 20 seconds to your 10-K pace

Heart Rate: 85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate

Perceived Exertion: An 8 on a 1-to-10 scale (a comfortable effort would be a 5; racing would be close to a 10)

Talk Test: A question like “Pace okay?” should be possible, but conversation won’t be.

Hamstring ExerciseI’m thinking about my muscle soreness from yesterday’s strength training at the gym. One of the exercises I did is the one shown in the image on the right, but without using dumbbells. It is incredible how easy this exercise feels, but at the same time how effective it is! Not once have I done this particular hamstring exercise or in fact any other exercise focused on the hamstring muscles that didn’t make me walk like a duck the next day. The problem is now to get going with the tempo run tomorrow morning if the soreness persists. Hopefully, simply taking it easy during the first mile with a proper warm-up and a good night-sleep will do the trick! Speaking of which, it’s time to get the running clothes ready for tomorrow morning and head to bed. Nighty night!


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