Comparing Tempo Runs

As part of my training plan with my new training team, we meet every Saturday to do a tempo run.  Each week the length of the tempo run increases.  Tempo runs are integral to improving your strength and stamina.  My goal is to break 38:00 in the 10k this year (6:05ish pace) so my tempo runs need to be around 6:20 pace.  As someone who has always enjoyed doing track workouts, tempo runs have always been my achilles heel and are pretty difficult for me!

Last week, everyone wore blue for #megsmiles.

Training run last week; everyone wore blue for #megsmiles.

Backtrack to last Saturday.  We had a 1.5 mile tempo run on tap.  In the group e-mail, it said we were going for an easy six miles so I was not planning on going hard. Granted, the tempo run was not long and was designed to get our feet wet with tempo training, but for a girl who had been running 20 miles a week with no workouts, this tempo run was a bit of a reality check.

jan 18Our group spread out pretty thin and I had no idea where it was supposed to end (clearly unprepared for our first run together, lesson learned) so I stopped when I got to ten minutes.  I felt horrible.  My legs couldn’t go faster and I felt like I slowed down tremendously in the short amount of time.  Have you ever had that feeling where you trying SO hard to run faster but your legs just stayed the same??

After I mapped my run, I calculated that I had run my tempo at 7:09 pace.  I knew I wasn’t running fast but 7:09? I had some work to do to get down to my goal time.

Oops...didn't notice the distance until after...

Ahh! Didn’t notice the distance until after…

FAST FORWARD This past weekend we had another tempo run but this time we would be going 2 miles.  My only goal was to run faster than last time.  History has a funny way of repeating itself and just like last week, once we were supposed to start, my legs refused to start and I was quickly dropped from my group.  Again, I felt like I had no turnover and the effort it took to push hard was not equal to how much faster I was actually running.

But then a something weird happened.  I started feeling great the second mile and ended up negative splitting my tempo run by a lot (6:56/6:38)!  My stride suddenly felt stronger and I could feel my form improve.  Very rarely do I negative split anything, especially on the dreaded TEMPO runs.  I think my body is learning to run workouts again and it will take a few more weeks to feel completely normal but it felt GREAT to accomplish my goal of running faster than last week (avg: 6:47 vs 7:09).

Now I just need to remember: patience, consistency, repeat.


I am no nutrionist or anything, but I am pretty sure Caramel Macciatos are the best post-workout snack.



I want to hear from YOU.

Do you do tempo runs?  If so, how often and how long?

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9 responses to “Comparing Tempo Runs

  1. Depends on what I’m training for. Half marathons and below I’ll do 1600-6400 repeats with 15 seconds rest per 400. Gearing up for my first ultra I’m doing 45-60 minutes. All paces are based on Jack Daniels’ VDOT system… Love me some tempo workouts. Haha.

  2. Oops. Tempos are hard for me, too…I think the mental part is as tough as the physical. I haven’t done a tempo run since I was marathon training in the fall. I probably should get back into them, too.

    • You would think tempo would be one of the easiest to do since it is not much faster than your regular run pace comparatively to track work but it is SO hard.

  3. I do tempo runs pretty regularly. I just started one of Hal Higdon’s training plans and he does the tempo kind of differently. They start out more slowly and towards the middle reach 5k race pace and then slowly slow back down. This week was my first week trying it out. It was definitely different than normal, which I just do at a consistent pace for X amount of miles. I kind of like how it is more free and less rigid than other tempos, but unsure because I normally do my tempos more structured.

    • I like the idea of starting off slowly–heck, I do that without trying, haha. I don’t know if I could make myself purposely slow down though once I started.

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