Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tempo Time, for my wife too!

My wife Joan is training for a half-marathon she'll be running in January.  She's done a couple of these before, but this time she's planning on setting a PR.  We got a nice program for her which gives her about 17-weeks to get ready from this point.  Today was going to be her first tempo run.  We were to meet at the track at about 11:40 this morning.

As I blathered on for about 5 paragraphs yesterday, I was not feeling great about my upcoming Tempo run.  The reason can really be boiled down to one simple statement I made yesterday:

". . . knowing how I approach these things, regardless of what I tell myself, I know once it's time to run I'm going to put that peddle down somewhere in the first 2-miles leaving me an absolute bear of a 3rd mile. . ."

When I arrived at the track I saw the football groundskeeper was working on the field.  The issue was that his John Deere was sitting in lanes 1 and 2 somewhere around the 50 yard line.  Meaning, that every single lap I was going to need to swing out into lane-3 and then come back in.  I thought, "great, just what I need, an extra few yards every lap".  

I finished my warm up and stretching before Joan arrived, which worked out pretty well.  I'd do my run during her warm up and then I'd be able to run my cool down along side her for her last 2-miles when I was sure she'd rather not be going around the oval over and over again by herself.  

My plan was to run the first mile in about 6:05 and then ramp it down to about 6 flat and see how it went from there - but like I said, I know how I run these things, and I knew deep down that there was no way I'd see a mile time starting w/ a 6 unless I got into trouble.  As I passed the John Deere on the first lap (about 150m in) I took a look down to see that my pace was somewhere in the 5:35 area - need to slow down.  I managed to correct the pace and I hit the first mile in 5:58.  (which was the EXACT pace I hit in the first cruise interval last week)  I held steady for the first half of the second mile and at that point I started thinking "when is this going to get uncomfortable - can I make it to the 3rd mile before it starts to become a problem?"

The answer was "yes".  Second mile split was 5:55 - the EXACT same time as my 2nd cruise interval last week!  Wow, this is a carbon copy of last week so far - but this time I'm NOT getting the 1-minute breaks between miles.  A quick check of the HR showed 167 - not too bad, only a tick higher than the max HR of the 2nd interval last week.  

Now on to the tough part - the last mile.  Last week, after another 1-minute break I hit a 5:51 to close things out.  I figure no way I can do that here, I'm just looking for another sub-6.  I started to feel it during the 2nd lap of the last mile, but just like last week it wasn't too bad.  I felt like I was holding the pace pretty well, and with about 600m to go I started picking it up just a bit.  I really didn't look at the watch for the final 2-laps, but when I crossed the finish and saw my time of 17:44, I quickly realized that my last mile split was, you guessed it - 5:51.  

I had run the EXACT same times for the each of the three miles in both workouts - but unlike last time where I got a 1-minute break between each mile - this time it was straight thru!  First thought at that point was to go check the heart rates - how much harder did I work to get that?  I was quite surprised by the result,  ave/max HR for each mile:

Cruise Intervals last week:  155/162, 161/166, 164/167
Tempo Run this week:  154/164, 166/167, 167/169

Of course the average HR of the 2nd and 3rd miles will be higher during the Tempo run because I'm not starting from a 130 HR or so like I am in the intervals - but the max HRs are very similar on those last 2-miles, meaning I really didn't work much harder at all!  That was quite a surprise.  Needless to say, finishing a 3-mile run in 17:44 felt pretty good!

Of course, when it was time for my wife to do her run the groundskeeper had finished up and was out of the way.  (yes I had to run around that damn thing 12 times!)  She did very well and ran each mile faster than the last.  We're going to monitor her paces and HRs closely the first couple of weeks and make any necessary adjustments, but so far so good.

Tomorrow's supposed to be an off day for running, but I may sneak out and get in an easy 5-miles in the afternoon.


9/17:  7-miles including 3-mile Tempo Run in 17:44 (5:58, 5:55, 5:51)  


Thomas said...

Whenever I do cruise intervals I feel that the beginning of each fast segment is the worst bit - I feel stiff and tired, and the legs invariably hurt. The end of the intervals always feels better.

I'm wondering if I were better off with continuous tempo runs instead.

Mike said...

It's odd that you feel stiff and tired in the beginning of each interval. I typically feel a bit refreshed right after the break due to letting the HR come down and catching up on my breathing. Do you start each interval faster than target pace and then adjust down?

I actually use both types of workouts for different things even though they're both "threshold work". (that is, once I work my way up in volume)

The tempo run is more of a mental challenge later in the effort, while the breaks of the CIs allow me to get in a much greater volume of work at the same pace.

For example, next week's workout is 3 x 2-mile repeats w/ 2-minute breaks. This will get me 6-miles at T-pace - I would not be able to do 6-miles @ 5:55 pace straight thru, so the intervals will allow me to get in a greater volume of work.

Also, according to the Daniels book - once your tempo run goes over 20-minutes you start adding some seconds per mile to the effort. For example a 25-minute tempo run would require me to add 5-seconds per mile to my pace. So if I were to do longer tempo runs, (which I'll do down the line) they would not be at the same pace as the CIs. With that being said, the last mile and a half of a 6-mile tempo run, even though the pace is a bit slower, is typically a big mental challenge for me.

So for me, both workouts benefit me in different ways. It would appear from what I've read that guys training for the marathon do more tempo runs while guys focusing on shorter races do more CIs, and although that might make some sense, I'm not sure that info is reliable.

Grellan said...

Well done on the tempo session. some good steady running there>