Thursday, October 7, 2010
So, mixing up your weekly workouts is a great idea, but you can also mix up the type of tempo runs your running. Running the same old 4- or 5-mile tempo run can get boring week after week. In case you're new to running, a tempo run typically begins and ends with a 1-mile easy warm-up and cool-down mile. The "middle miles" are run at tempo pace (typically 30 seconds slower than your 10K or 5K race pace). So for a 4-mile tempo run, you'll run 1-mile easy, 2-miles at tempo pace, and 1 mile easy for the cool-down. But....that's just one way to do a tempo run.
Basically, a tempo run's purpose is designed to give your body experience running fast for longer periods of time. This helps increase your speed and endurance. It's also great for pushing out your lactate threshold. That's the point at which you begin to find that "burn" in your muscles. That burn is caused when you increase your pace faster than your body is acclimated to and the body isn't able to clear out the lactate (a by product of the energy produced for muscle movement) fast enough. But, if you keep exposing yourself to faster paces over longer distances, you can actually push out the point at which you get that burn (or the lactate threshold) so hopefully you'll never experience it during a race.
Other types of tempo runs include Tempo Intervals, Race-Pace Tempo Runs and Kenyan Outbacks. Tempo intervals are very similar to fartleks (bursts of speed during a regular run). To do a Tempo Interval, simply divide your run into 10 minute intervals rotating between slow and tempo-pace intervals. So for example, if you're running a 6-miler, begin with 10-minutes at an easy conversational pace for 10-minutes. Then ramp it up to your tempo pace for 10-minutes. Continue this until you've completed your 6-miles. The last interval may actually be shorter than 10-minutes depending on your pace. Or if it's easier, don't base the Tempo Interval run on mileage. Instead, just plan on running for 60 minutes doing 6 slow/fast intervals.