Friday, February 18, 2011

“Mind your pace, boy!”

As my week of travel draws to a close, I took advantage of a run-perfect day in Shreveport to do my prescribed Tempo run along the river.  The temperature was maybe 60 degrees, skies were slightly overcast and a light breeze was blowing up (or down) the river.  I was out of work a little early and had plenty of time to get back to the hotel, slam down a Clif bar (Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch) and half a bottle of water, and gear up for a run.

Those who run for fun seem to be minimalist runners -- strap on the shoes, make sure you’re clothed, and go.  I have my fancy-pants Injinji toe socks, my heart-rate monitor (which also gives terribly inaccurate, but consistent pace information at a glance), my RoadID, my iTouch & headphones for music and integrated Nike+ for collecting marginally accurate run data (this is where the “run graphs” I post come from), a water bottle for hydration, my sunglasses to keep my eyes safe, and my Batman-like running belt with integrated head-lamp, tail-LED-light, and pockets to hold my Droid 2 Global with Runkeeper (and/or iMapMyRun) and some energy gel (preferable Clif Shot Bloks).

On the agenda today was the run I struggle with every week – the Tempo Run. Like Track Repeats/Intervals, Tempo runs are done at a pace faster than race-pace, but obviously for a shorter distance.  This week’s plan was to log 7 miles, the first & last mile at an “Easy” pace of about 8:30 per mile.  Unless I transcribed the plan wrong, the middle 5 miles were prescribed at my projected marathon pace (MP) of around 7:30 per mile.  By comparison, the first 5k (3.1 miles) race I ran last May was done at a 7:26 pace.

Unlike Intervals, there is no expected recovery time during the run and, unlike the Intervals where you can break the effort down to “Only 400m to go… Only 200m to go…,” the effect isn’t quite the same when you say, “Okay, 20% done, only 4 miles (or about half an hour) of this hell left.”  I need to un-lend my FIRST book (done yet, Mary?) and re-read a bit about the goals of the Tempo and plot out my next month of training soon. 

From what I recall, the Tempo run is designed to improve “running economy” by putting your into a slightly less acute place of stress than an Interval, but to run basically at the edge of your muscles’ physical limits to train them how to process the lactate by-products of heavy, sustained use.  The feel for me is that a tempo pace is one where you start running and wonder how in the WORLD you’re going to sustain that pace for the duration of the run.

The hotel-to-run-path route was just over a mile and a quarter and the “easy” run out there didn’t bode well.  Ankles were feeling stiff and I think it was a carryover from the Insanity Fit Test the previous day. With the exception of a short walk interval at the half way point to suck down a caffeinated gel and another brief pause to wait for traffic at a crosswalk, I succeeded in running the full tempo portion of the run, but fell short of the target pace at an average of 7:51. 

The run/bike path was marked every ¼ mile and I started giving myself an incremental target goal of doing better than 2 minutes per quarter mile (which, for you non-math majors, would equate to being under 8 minutes per mile).  Once I hit the end of the 5 mile portion of the run, I treated myself to about a quarter mile cool-down walk before kicking it back up for the Easy run back over the bridge to the hotel.

With tomorrow being a travel day, there will be no “Training Log” per se, but I intend to use the day to talk a little more about my Training Plan and provide some insight into the tools that I use to facilitate my training.  If there’s anything you’d like to see me write about or know about, drop a comment!  I’m working on lining up some guest bloggers to provide a change of pace from my daily rambling prose.  If you or someone you know would be interested, let me know!

2011-FEB-17 Diet Log (MyFitnessPal)

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