Part of my weekly training plan is to insert one day of speed-work so today I did a “tempo run.” A tempo run is supposed to be a 20-minute run at a “comfortably hard” pace. Running Times gives a good article on tempo running if you want to know more about “tempo runs.”
I opted to do a 10K run at my half-marathon goal pace, which is a 6 minute per kilometer pace. It’s interesting how my fitness levels have progressed—I used to run a 10K race at that pace; now it’s my tempo training pace! It’ll be interesting to see how fast I can run a 10K now.
I programmed my Garmin Forerunner to do a 1-kilometer warm up, followed by a 10-kilometer run at a pace of 5:45 to 6:00. My first tempo kilometer was too fast; my Garmin watch beeped constantly to alert me that I was running faster than 5:45. So I backed off. Hmmm, I told myself, I’m comfortable running a 5:45? But I wondered if I could sustain that pace.
For the first 1 to 2 kilometers, I was fumbling with the pace. I would go too fast then too slow. It was after the 2nd kilometer that my pace settled. No longer was my Garmin watch beeping to alert me that I was off the pace.
But yes it was tough. Not tough as in I wanted to quit, but tough in the sense that I was wondering if I could sustain that pace for an hour. For sure it wasn’t an easy, comfortable run. I was breathing heavily and my legs had a faster rhythm. I focused on my form, trying to stay loose, keeping my torso straight but relaxed, my head upright, eyes looking at just below the horizon, my arms swinging freely. Once in a while I would inhale deeply, expanding my lungs as much as I could, and then I would forcibly exhale. I don’t know if it truly worked or it was just psychological, but it did alleviate the fatigue and made the runs easier. But it was still a laborious effort, and I wondered how in the world could I have managed this pace for 21 kilometers!
As I entered the last 5 kilometers, I was obvious to me that my fatigue level was nowhere near that of a 21-kilometer race. In a half-mary, my legs weigh a ton, my mind is delirious with fatigue, and I would wage a mental battle to either quit or to push on. I guess the tempo run also teaches the body to settle efficiently into a steady pace.
I’ll be doing this type of runs once a week until about mid-July, when I have to taper for the Milo Marathon. I’m eager to see how all this affects my 42K run.