Coach Mark’s instructions for my 6 mile tempo run were clear and concise. After a 1.5 to 2 mile warm-up, run 3 x 1 mile repeats at an 8:00 pace with a 1 minute recovery jog in between each repeat, cool down for 1 to 1.5 miles. Try to keep your mile repeats as close to an 8:00 pace as possible.
No problem, I thought! This run will be a snap (just snapped my fingers)! Well, I’m here to testify to the fact that this was not at all an easy thing to do. Of course, the warm-up and cool down were a piece of cake as it wasn’t necessary to keep a steady, even pace. But the tempo part? Whoa!!
You’re probably thinking, “What’s so hard about keeping an 8:00 pace?” Well, for me it’s keeping an even, steady speed that presents a challenge. Try as I might I just couldn’t stick to an even tempo (I know this because I watch my GPS); my tendency is to run much faster and in spurts. At one point during my second repeat, I looked at my GPS and saw that I was running a 6:45 pace! No wonder I was breathing hard! For each mile repeat I averaged 7:40, 7:25, and 7:50, respectively. Again, I didn’t follow my coach’s instructions!
Honestly, it’s damn hard to find your tempo when running; which got me thinking about the challenge of finding your tempo in life. (There’s always a metaphor, isn’t there?) I am currently at a crossroads in my life as my youngest child will leave the nest in 7 days and embark on a new chapter in his life: The College Years. My entire life has been devoted to my children and the children I teach. Oh yes, I’ve always been a runner, but I’ve always run when it didn’t interfere with anyone else’s schedule. (I was the mom who brought her running shoes to her children’s sports practices to sneak in a run.)
So, now I’m faced with the challenge of finding my own tempo, both in and out of my running shoes. Sounds like an easy task, but it’s really much more complicated than at first glance!
“Dead tired. Dog tired. Sore as hell.” –from Laura Mykytok’s training diary.
Laura, I know exactly how you feel. Those three short sentences speak to how I felt when I struggled to open my eyes at 6:00 this morning. Having slept very poorly all night (could it have been the three enormous bowls of Cap’n Crunch I wolfed down at 10:30 last night?), combined with the Tuesday’s tough speedwork, I woke up tired and sore. I couldn’t even consider running until 8:00 and then I still waited around.
Wednesday’s are designated as “easy” days of semi-long distances run at a comfortable pace. As soon as I began this easy run, I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling: tight quads, tight calves, certain you weigh at least 300 lbs. Quickly, I decided that today’s semi-long run would only be 7.2 and that motivated me to run a little faster. When I reached the 3.6 mark, I looked at my GPS (I know, I should’ve left it home!) and saw that I was running an average pace of 8:48. “Oh no!” screamed my brain. “That’s just pathetic! You’d better start moving those legs of yours!”
So, that’s just what I did to the tune of an average pace of 7:50. Stupid, stupid stupid!!! Easy days should be, well, EASY!!! I don’t believe that anyone benefits from to challenging days in a row. When you run consecutive days hard, you set yourself up for injury. Plus, I probably zapped a lot of energy that I will most definitely need for my 6 miles of tempo running tomorrow.
So, what did I learn? LEAVE THE WATCH HOME ON EASY DAYS AND LET YOUR BODY SET THE TEMPO!!