When i started running, i would just run. sometimes i would plan how long i would go or possibly a route but there was no rhyme or reason. not that that’s not great. i still believe that there are times when we need to get out and just run. don’t make a plan; just run. Here’s what i realized though when i was “just running.” i wasn’t getting any better. it wasn’t really getting any easier.
I decided there must be something i could do when i run that could benefit me. so, hundreds of readings later, thousands of miles later, and bunches of hours spent getting my cec’s in running, i finally got it! there are “just runs” and there are other runs- tempo, speed, long, etc.
Let’s focus on Tempo runs for now.
what are they? Tempo runs are workouts where you run at a steady pace that is around 70% to 80% of your max aerobic capacity. Tempo runs are just past the point where you begin to build up waste product in your legs at a rapid rate during a run, which is called the lactate-threshold velocity.
why do you need to do them? well, the quickest and easiest answer is that they will help you learn to run faster.
how? running at tempo pace often enough will train your body to deal with lactic acid. it will make your body more efficient in removing lactic acid from your running muscles. this is good because that means that the next time you run, you will not build up as much lactic acid in your running muscles as the last time you ran at that same pace and your body will be able to get rid of it faster.
Tempo runs are comfortably hard. don’t confuse these with speed runs. with tempo runs you should be able to speak 2 – 3 words, all out speed runs, you should only be able to speak a word…or maybe just nod!
It can be difficult to figure out what your tempo pace should be and it just takes some time. If you’re carrying on a conversation, you’re going too slow. If you’re gasping for breath, you’re going too fast.
Simply put: Tempo runs teach your body to run faster before fatiguing. Studies indicate that the best predictor of distance-running performance is your lactate threshold, which is the speed you are able to run before lactic acid begins to accumulate in the blood. By regularly including tempo runs in your training schedule, you will increase the speed that you can run before lactic acid begins to slow you down. To use a car analogy, tempo runs will allow your engine to rev faster without red-lining. Before tempo training, you may have red-lined at an 8-minute-per-mile pace. After a few months of tempo runs, you won’t red-line until you reach a 7:30-per-mile pace.
See, there is some rhyme and reason behind what we do!!