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Tempo Runs - Why run them?

Posted Oct 04 2012 7:43pm
Woah! Fall break vacation is hard work but ironically, fun work! I am finally unwinding some and feeling a bit more upbeat and optimistic. Yep, life and stress can get to me hence my love and desire for running!

Today I headed off to the gym with darling daughter even though when I woke up the last thing I wanted to do was run. Which really means, the thing I really do want and NEED to do is run. You see, for me not wanting to run isn't really not wanting to. I just wasn't into the timing I had to orchestrate to get to the gym and secure a spot in the Kids' Club, run, clean up, "kill" some time, and take darling daughter to swim. All without a spending budget. It forces me to be creative but it really is doable.

My goal was to run for 60 minutes. About 5 minutes into the run I realized I needed to run a tempo run today. Okay, I can do that. I wasn't sure about the quantity of miles the plan called for and I really didn't want to stop running to look it up as I knew my target tempo pace. I opted for 3 miles at tempo. It may have been 4 miles but honestly, I think 3 miles was a good game plan. After the mile warm up I picked up my pace to run at 8'34" for the next 3 miles.....and I wasn't giving up the goal of 60 minutes of running either. I can do this.

And the first tempo mile felt funny. Hard but not excruciating. I was breathing heavier but not dying. Golly gee....I really have a hard time with tempo runs and the mental side of it. So why am I doing this to myself? Well, because the plan dictated a tempo run this week and they make me a better runner. And as I ran on determined I pondered why the tempo. It seemed the logic behind them wasn't crystal clear to me and I needed a refresher.

I always remember tempo runs are supposed to be comfortably hard and that a 20 minute duration is nice for starters but how do they make me a better runner? How do they build strength and/or speed? What is the physical benefit?

After returning home and getting into my research a bit I reminded myself that tempo runs help build my lactate threshold. This is the point where my muscles are now incapable of processing the lactate acid. But if I keep training and tossing in (aka...do them weekly) tempo runs (or hill repeats) I will delay that point and have better endurance. Does that physiological reminder help give you incentive to do your tempo runs and increase your commitment to them? It does me! But hey, I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to all the fun biology in life!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for being able to write this post today.
Daily Affirmation: I am a good mother, wife, daughter, and sister.
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