I’ll admit that when I first started running I had no idea what a tempo run was. However, as I trained for race after race, I came to realize just how important they are. This isn’t just because tempo runs (when done consistently) can help improve your speed and strength come race day. But, also, because its one hell of a way to release tension from the day!
So, what exactly is it? If you google the term “tempo run” you’ll find a common definition – comfortably hard running for a prolonged period of time. This means, you increase your speed for a set period of time or a specified distance. (The runs are obviously buffered by a 5-10 minute warm up run.) Incorporating this into your runs just once per week can have a big improvement come race day.
So, what does a busy day have to do with tempo runs? Plenty! If you’re the typical Type A person (present company included!), you tend to carry stress with you. A tempo run allows you to just RUN IT OUT! Say goodbye to the tension in your shoulders or the nagging headache from the day. That comfortably hard run forces you to concentrate on powering through your run. When you’re finished, you realize how good of a workout it was. You feel spent but accomplished. You’ve just released so much tension and let go the stresses of your day.
Many of us have been there. I work in an office with some highly passionate personalities. Every day brings some new fire that needs to be put out. Some days (like today) I just want to crawl under my desk and wish everyone would go away. It doesn’t happen every day and I genuinely love the people I work with, but stress happens to us all. I’ve learned to love tempo runs because they are helping me build both mental and physical toughness to push through my races and sometimes my day.
Today is my first official blog post AND my first day of hill and speed training. To say that I’m exhausted after a LONG workday is a complete understatement.
I’m currently training for a half marathon and came to the realization that I need help. Doesn’t everyone? I know I need to work on my hills and speed while training but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Personally, I feel it’s a huge accomplishment just finishing an 8 mile run. The thought of voluntarily running and rerunning over and over again up and down hills sounds insane. But, I know how critical it is to training and improving my time. So, I hired some much needed help.
Today, I worked out with Kristy, a local run coach, who pushed me through hills. Our first hill was a half-mile upward climb. While I powered through it, I kept wondering how many of these I would actually have to do and was silently wishing is was over. Hills can do that to a person. Then, came the second hill… I struggled and fought the voices in my head telling me to stop but I still powered through it. By the third one, I had enough and was ready to stop. I’ll admit, I had to walk a few steps mid-way, but I made it to the top and did an easy mile run afterwards. Overall, it was about a 3-4 mile run but one that I would have never done on my own. When it was over, I checked my Polar watch and I burned a whopping 536 calories in under an hour. That works for me and the sizable dinner I knew I would have soon thereafter! Although, later Kristy admitted she took it easy on me because it was our first session. Only six days to go until I have to do it all over again!
The point of this post is that sometimes you have to ask for some help – especially when days are hectic, time is scarce and you have a desire to improve. I have access to run coaches all around me. Philadelphia is a running city and I’m so blessed to be here among so many inspiring runners, coaches and a very welcome running community. While many don’t have access or the money to hire a coach, there are other ways to find help to keep you on track. When you can’t hire an in-person coach, try any of these instead:
- Download an app. – There are plenty that can help train you to improve your runs. Many are free or can be purchased for a minimal charge of $1.99 – $5.99.
- Find a local run group. – Social media is great for this. Try searching “(your city name) running” and see what comes up. Group runs are a great way to improve your runs and meet new people.
- Find a buddy. – Have a friend who runs? Push each other to do your hills and speed work once per week. Its always better when you have someone else there to push you and help you perform your best.
- Give virtual coaching a try. – If you aren’t located in an area when you have access to run coaches, give their virtual programs a try. Some run coaches provide virtual training programs that require you to log the runs, results, and provide feedback. They communicate with you through their virtual platform with daily or weekly workouts and expect you will execute on them. While the burden is still on you to do the work, you will still have someone that you’re accountable to.
I hope these tips help! I’m about to crawl into bed and fully expect my legs and butt to be sore tomorrow. I’m certain there will be aches and groans as I attempt to get out of bed in the morning. But, in the end, I know its all worth it!