Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon


What is a tempo run...and does it really matter? (Read 404 times)

    I’ve read a lot of running info and asked a lot of questions and learned a little bit in the last 2 years, but I’m still unclear on tempo runs. I know I can plug in a race number and the McMillan calculator gives me a pace range for running tempo runs, but according to a guy named Malmo…who has Jeff’s endorsement, so he must know what he’s talking about…tempo pace is somewhere between your marathon pace and HM pace. If that’s true, almost all my runs are tempo or faster. I’ve only done two marathons. My first was 4:24 (a 10:06 pace) and my second marathon (Oct 2007) was 4:15 (a 9:44 pace). My best HM (April of this year) is 1:49 ( an 8:19 pace). I think running faster at least some of the time helped my HM PR, and what I did for running faster was mile repeats (4 at 7:15-7:20) with about 2 minutes rest, and running 3 miles at around 7:50 – 8 min pace in the middle of a 6 or 8 mile run. After these runs, I didn’t feel “invigorated” (Malmo said you should feel invigorated after tempo runs). They were hard workouts and I felt pretty tired afterwards. Part of what Malmo wrote about tempo runs was that you should feel as though you’re holding back a little. I can understand this as it relates to peaking for a powerlifting competition because if you workout too hard or too heavy from the start, you’ll be burnt out and overtrained (and weak) when contest time comes. I know “basebuilding” by running a lot of miles is part of a good training program. I think I need to do some runs at around HM race pace or faster, but I’m unsure about how often, how fast, and the brand and color of shirt I need to wear. Ok kidding about the shirt, but I’ll say what I think I need to do and someone correct me if I’m wrong. Once/week, I need to run at least 3 miles in the middle of a longer run at around an 8:30-8:45 pace. As race time gets closer, I need to increase the distance to 6-8 miles (in the middle of a 10-12 mile run) at this pace. The next 2 races I’m training for are the Murfreesboro HM (Oct 11), and the Monkey (11/23). (This tempo pace doesn’t apply to runs in PWP.) I’m doing some of my long runs there, but the faster paced (not sure they fit the definition of tempo) runs will be on less hilly routes in Manchester. Daaaaaang this was a long post. If you read this far - thanks for reading. Big grin

      Daaaaaang this was a long post. If you read this far - thanks for reading. Big grin
      Hmmmm. I read this statement, but nothing before it and I don't think I've earned your gratitude. I have this nasty habit of skipping directly to emoticons and reading that which immediately precedes them.
        Hmmmm. I read this statement, but nothing before it and I don't think I've earned your gratitude. I have this nasty habit of skipping directly to emoticons and reading that which immediately precedes them.
        My inadvertent thanks to you are hereby withdrawn. You can proceed with your day, unthanked and unappreciated. Tongue
          I think what you have discovered is that your truly easy runs should probably include some walk breaks. Probably the runs that you are doing are "moderate." Maybe JK will take a hiatus from his internet break to say more, but I know he includes some 4:1 run:walk runs in his training, and he's a 3:30 marathoner. Also, for beginning runners, the marathon is so tricky that MP is probably not the best marker for training pace. It's also a moving target, if you are getting in shape. You HM pace is much better than your MP, which indicates that you've got plenty of speed and what you need is aerobic time on your feet. So, to answer your questions: 1. How often do you need to be running HM pace or faster: no more than once a week. 2. As far as your 8:30-8:45 pace runs go, I wouldn't go looking for them, but if occasionally (say once or twice a week) you feel good, then you might let your run dip down to that pace for a few miles. The rest of your runs should be easy and enjoyable. You should be thinking more about volume than about pace. This is marathon training after all. The marathon is a long race at a slow pace.

          TT Man

            I echo what Jeff says. I echo what Jeff says. I echo what Jeff says.

            Thunder smash!


              Tony, my apologies. I definitely meant to be a smartass, but didn't realize until I hit the post button, that I wasn't in the 2000 mile group. Then I was just too lazy to go back and edit it. I definitely didn't mean any harm. Now I feel compelled to add something of meaningful substance Wink That's difficult because when Thunder said, "what Jeff says," he was absolutely right. There's not much more to add. One thing I can touch on (bearing in mind that volume is in fact the primary focus) is a bit about tempo pacing. Tempo is a very broad concept. When you look at McMillan and see something around 12k-15k pace (truthfully, any race effort of about 60 min) for tempo, then contrast that against Malmo's advice of something from HM to MP, you want to know which is "right." In fact, both are. Both achieve the objective of pushing your lacate threshold "up" from below. The McMillan tempo pace will have a greater impact on moving the lactate threshold since it will be just below or right at that threshold. The Malmo tempo will push it up as well, but to a lesser extent. This is not a bad thing...especially for a marathoner. This is because a marathon cannot be run at lactate threshold. Training right at LT is more race-specific for a 10k runner than a marathoner. A Malmo-type tempo will allow for a longer high-intensity effort that still has the effect of pushing up the LT, and thus is more race-specific for a marathoner. When questions as to what type of training to do arise, it's good to step back and remember: miles first, then add race-specific work. For a marathon, a Malmo-type tempo is more race-specific.
                Jeff - what you said makes sense. (I'm sure you're glad to hear that Big grin ) In both of my marathons I was at close to a 9 min pace until mile 17 (in my first) and mile 21 (in my 2nd). So in both I overestimated my abilities and ran with what was left to get to the finish (which wasn't much). I'd like to beat 1:49 in the Murfreesboro HM. I've been doing shorter faster runs over the summer, so if I just get the volume up, and maybe run a couple of "tempo" runs at near race pace I'll be set. Andrew - what you said makes sense too - almost as good, if not equally as good as Jeff's advice. Big grin Mishka - I'm not easily offended, so your comment didn't offend me. I was just being a smartarse back, but not with fire shooting out my eyes, veins popping out of my neck, and screaming into the computer or anything like that. It was meant to be read in the voice of Andy Griffith...I should have put that. Big grin What you said makes sense about the duration of the tempo runs. If I run at close to LT, it's tough to run more than 3 miles at that pace, but for what Malmo described as the tempo run (specific to a marathon) I can run quite a bit longer than 3 miles.

                Imminent Catastrophe

                  Hey Tony, I'm no expert but I've made enough mistakes to shed a little light on this. I think you are correct in thinking that your "tempo runs" are too fast. Those aren't tempo runs, they're more like intervals. Mile repeats are more appropriate for middle-distance racers. Some marathoners do those but if so it's a very small part of training. Tempo runs are generally done at or just below LT speed, that would be 10k to HM pace. So, as I see it, you are pretty much spot-on in your last paragraph. What you are describing is sometimes called cruise intervals, working a few miles at LT speed into a long run (you can do more than one cruise interval in a run, BTW, with a few easy miles between). Except that your tempo runs need to be more than 6-8 miles. The idea is that you steadily increase the distance of your tempo runs so that you can do 16-18 miles or so at your desired Marathon pace without feeling totally wasted.

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                    My tempo runs are partway between my race pace, and my I-need-to-stop-to-throw-up pace. I'm an old guy now, but I had a really mean high school coach. These things stay with you.

                    The Greatest of All Time

                      You guys need to stop being such pussies and do tempo runs during your long runs. Or better yet, do your long runs at the right effn speed. I am so fucking tired of this long slow bullshit. Man up. Wankers Big grin MTA: Forgot this wasn't the swamp. Censor as necessary.
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