When I first started running, I didn’t give training much thought. Essentially, I popped my shoes on and ran; didn’t worry about form, time or anything else. To me, speed wasn’t the goal, it was to drop weight. I generally did the same run daily (for those of you tuning in from Cape Breton, I ran 8km along the Baddeck Bay Road.) I sometimes did hills and other routes. I didn’t consider myself a fair-weather runner either; I’d run through sun, heat, hail, wind, snow, rain – whatever! But if you asked me what tempo running was or what I paced myself at, I’d have no idea how to respond.
You see, this is my first real attempt at training. Yeah. I’ve done a few relays and long-distance races. And I did train in terms of making sure I could run certain distances. However, I never trained with the intention of getting the distance in AND doing it with a goal time in mind (under two hours for the half). Which means if I did my calculations correctly, I need to shave at least 30 seconds off my current pace per kilometre. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I cringe at the thought of having to speed up even more! In actuality, because my pace per kilometre isn’t incredibly fast, I’ve been encouraged that it won’t be too bad to take the time down; I beg to differ (but we’ll see!)
Don’t know what your pace is? Figure it out here.
So what is tempo running and how is it going to help me achieve this goal?
Tempo running is designed to help runners build speed and strength. Generally, you’ll start out with a fairly easy running pace (in my case, slow) for the first 5 – 10 minutes. Then taking it to about 10 seconds slower than your 10K pace. And finally, finishing with 5-10 minutes of a cool-down pace. A great tip from about.com is that for an easy-paced run you should have three footstrikes while breathing in and two footstrikes while breathing out. Alternatively, for tempo runs, you should be at two footstrikes while breathing in and one footstrike while breathing out. If you happen to be breathing more than that, your pace is too fast.
I wish I’d known about tempo running ages ago and maybe my last Cabot Trail Relay I would have made it in before they took the dang mat away! At any rate, apparently if I complete tempo runs once a week, I’ll see direct benefits and naturally, I’ll keep you posted with the progress or lack thereof.
If you want to learn more about pacing, click here.