For those of you who were wondering about the lecture on how to run a faster, more comfortable marathon that I went to on Friday — it turns out that if you want to run a faster, more comfortable marathon, you have to, among other things, run faster. Because then you will be more comfortable. Now, we’ve gone over a few ways to run faster — fartleks, speed intervals — but we haven’t talked about my favorite speed run: the tempo workout. Let’s do it, shall we?
The purpose of the tempo run is to increase your lactate threshold. Meaning, you can run farther, faster before lactic acid builds up in your muscles and forces you to stop or slow down or curse the day you were born. The way to do it is to run at a difficult but sustainable pace, a pace you could keep up for an hour if you were running a race (probably most comparable to your 10K pace), for a relatively long period of time — 20-50 minutes. Any shorter than that and you probably won’t be getting the benefit of an increased lactate threshold, and where is the fun in that? Certainly not on the marathon course.
So, to start out, do a couple of warm-up miles. Then increase your speed to “comfortably hard” on your internal odometer. Use your breathing or ability to converse (you should be able to say a couple of words at a time) as a guide to let yourself know how you’re doing. Keep up that pace for 20 minutes if it is your first tempo run. Then cool down with a slow jog for a mile or so. Increase your tempo distance over the next few weeks by adding a half mile or so to your weekly tempo run. The next day, do an easy run to help your body recover. (Remember — just one speed workout, maybe two if you are in peak training, per week.)
Within a few weeks you’ll be able to run farther faster. And within a few months you’ll be flying through that marathon so comfortably you’ll want to do one every week.
Ha. Ha. Ha.