Turning Around a Tempo Run

I don’t much care for tempo runs and I was nervous about the one I had to do today. But I totally turned things around over the course of the run so I thought I would write about it. The planned workout was 6 miles. First half mile of every mile easy, second half mile of every mile fast, with a goal of 3:50-4:00 minutes for the fast half mile. That is a 7:40-8:00 minute pace! I had done a similar workout before, but only for five miles and I died on the last half mile.

Snarky Girl is my go-to person for these tempo runs but she has deserted me for Alaska with some lame excuse like her sister having a baby??? So, I was on my own. I started later than usual and even later than planned because I can procrastinate like nobody’s business when I’m running alone. Finally I got outside and warmed up. Then the saga begins:

Hmmmm, it’s hotter than I thought. My mouth feels dry. Is that heat or am I nervous? I go back inside to fetch my water bottle and walk to the top of the driveway. Hmmmm, it’s much sunnier than I thought. Fast Friend says it’s good to wear sunglasses when it’s sunny. I go back inside and fetch my sunglasses. I go back outside. I can not justify Gu for six miles so I am out of excuses and I have to start running. Shoot. I make the last minute decision to listen to my half marathon race play list, music normally reserved for racing only, but today, I think I’m going to need it.

First half mile is slow. La, la, la. Hip is not bugging me, yeah. Knee is a little funny, but the kind of funny that will wear off once I am warmed up. Where is this first half mile going to end? There is a hill. Will I have to go fast up the hill? Buzz goes my watch, signaling the end of the first slow half mile and the beginning of the first fast half mile. Ugh. Down the hill, up the hill, crap this is hard. I probably need a full mile warm-up and then I would also be past this hill. This is sucking. I can’t do this. It really is too hot. I’m so worried about my son, his sickness, starting school, missing the end of summer entirely, all of that crud bubbles to the surface like the crap that comes off when you boil beans or lentils. I wonder if I will just have to bail entirely on this run. Buzz: 4:07. Not target pace, but could be worse. I walk some of the recovery half mile and immediately decide that I will just walk the first part of recovery if I have to. It IS hot and real recovery is the only way I am going to hit these intervals.

Buzz. Time to go again. C’mon, you can nail it this time. Faster turnover, faster turnover, faster turnover. Plus, this is a great stretch of road, Long Lane headed back toward campus. You have a tiny downhill helping you here and it’s shady. This is the end of a lot of our runs. Amby Burfoot and Jeff Galloway and Bill Rodgers all used to run here. Pace is finally below 8:00. At least get this one damn interval. Buzz: 3:52. YES! Walk some until heart rate comes down a bit. Lots of construction near campus. What the heck are they doing?

Buzz. Time to go again. This is number three. When it’s over, you are halfway done. Past the athletic center. Turn right to dodge construction. Left again, right again, stay on it, this is not 8:00 pace, you are going to blow this interval. How are you ever going to PR at Surftown? Even if you do PR, it will be so miserable that it won’t be worth it. This is awful, aren’t I done yet? Start counting down. (I count to myself when running gets hard.) Buzz. Finally. 4:08. Crap. Walk up the hill. Try to pull your head together. How many of these do you want to hit today? Can we say at least half? Can you focus, please?

When watch says 3.45 miles, start speeding up. Keep it light. Buzz, ok go! Down Long Lane again. You love this street. Stay in the shade. Shoulders back, relax your hands, fast feet, relax your face, watch says 7:45 pace, just hold that. This is not so bad. Just stay on it. Relax your body, move your feet, start counting, you’re almost done. Buzz. 3:56. Yes! Change of route. Instead of looping athletic fields, reverse course to dodge construction. Two more intervals to go. If you nail the next one, you’ve hit half of them. Also, psssst, you focused on your form that time and it worked.

Watch at 4.45, speed up, keep it light. Buzz, go! Down Wadsworth Street. It’s sunny, but you’re fine. Faster, there’s 7:45, now hold it. Britney says if I want a Maserati, I’d better work, bitch. Screw you and your Maserati, Britney. I just want to walk. When is this going to be over? Watch says 4.88, so count, count, count, you are almost done. Buzz. 3:56. Yes! One more to go. What if I get this one too? I am running on Pine Street, a good place to fly. Titanium comes on the Ipod shuffle. A good song to fly to.

Watch at 5.45, speed up, buzz, go! Pace is at 9:00, speed it up. You are Titanium! You are bullet proof! Ok, but those dump trucks will actually kill you if they run over you so don’t lose sight of traffic. Pace at 7:45, 7:35! Hold it there! Mileage is 5.79, can I start counting? Yes, just count! Down route 17, mileage at 5.90, just run to that sign! Buzz. 3:54. YEAH! I hit four out of six intervals on pace! Even on a hot day. Just as important, I turned this run around mentally. Run home to I’m on Top of the World, hey!



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2 Responses to Turning Around a Tempo Run

  1. Marianne says:

    Found my way here from your thoughtful comment on my AMR post.

    Great recap full of lessons for me. I look forward to reading more.

  2. sarah says:

    Marianne, I love following your progress on the Another Mother Runner site. Thanks for stopping by!

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