So tempo runs are pretty much the worst thing ever…

I’m serious. I know I’m a newby to the world of speed training but all my experience thus far points to the conclusion that tempo runs are, as far as the running world is concerned, the center of all evil.

My half marathon training plan has me doing weekly speed workouts and alternates each week between interval training and tempo runs. The interval workouts I can deal with; in fact, I rather enjoy them. The tempo runs, on the other hand, I have come to dread every other Wednesday morning. And today’s 40 minute tempo run was just downright agonizing – probably one of the worst workouts I have had in a long time. I think the fact that this type of run actually requires me to pay painstakingly close attention to how much time and how far I have run and how long I have left to go makes it impossible for the time to go by quickly or be enjoyable.

Any advice from speed training veterans is welcomed and appreciated! What is the real objective of tempo runs? Because so far my best guess is that it is to cause me pain… or perhaps make Wednesdays worse than they already are. Is there a reason to incorporate both interval and tempo workouts for speed? Because if I could replace every scheduled tempo run into the foreseeable future with an interval workout, I would be a happy girl. I am guessing they have a real solid purpose (why would runners do them otherwise) and the fact that I find them awful and hard is just indicative of a weakness in my running that needs massive improvements. If that is the case, what tips do you have to make tempo runs more bearable?

Today’s tempo fail was exacerbated by the vague memory of Sunday’s distance run quasi-fail. I covered the 8 miles that I intended to cover but at a noticeably slower pace than my 7 mile run the previous Saturday. It was 35 degrees outside and a miserable 23 degrees with wind chill. Running against the cold wind was brutal and I was more than a little surprised that my watering eyes and runny nose did not ultimately result in icicles forming on my face. To top it all off, I didn’t charge my running watch beforehand and got a low battery warning within the first 2 miles. I was about ready to praise the running gods when I got to 7 and a half miles and the little gadget was still holding on for dear (battery) life. Then, with a mere quarter mile to go, it shut off completely. All data was lost to the cyber oblivion. That’s just cruel.

Two mediocre-to-bad runs within a week of each other isn’t fun. But tomorrow’s a new day… a rest day! I will likely soothe my morale with yoga, an activity where my mentality is much less self-critical and much more “A for effort”.

On an entirely different note, I made a few changes to the blog! Check out the new “Races” page and a couple handy widgets I added to the site!

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4 thoughts on “So tempo runs are pretty much the worst thing ever…

    • Haha so far I only have likes on the post so apparently people hate tempo runs as much as us but also aren’t sure how to ease the pain! I am not sure what your strategy is for them but I spoke with my brother and he suggested that I may be taking the gradual speed build up a bit too literally (I’ve been trying to go a little faster every few minutes building up to a particular top speed 2/3 the way through). This makes sense as I think the most agonizing part is paying so much attention to time and pace every minute that the time just drags on and on. Open to more suggestions from others though!

  1. How funny…I actually would MUCH rather do tempo runs than interval training! I don’t know the exact science behind it all, but intervals are Vo2 Max workouts which do something different than tempo runs that are meant to increase lactic threshold. You are training your muscles to hold race pace speeds for longer amounts of time before letting lactate build up in the bloodstream (when that happens, you start to hurt and fatigue). I always tell myself that the more miserable I am during a workout, the more fun I’ll have during race day! Good luck!

    And bummer about your watch! I hate when that happens!

    • Well sounds like between the two of us we would make one really stellar speed training runner! The lactate threshold concept makes sense so I guess since they are so beneficial I am stuck doing my tempo runs. You’re right though – I guess any single workout is less dreadful in the bigger picture of getting to my goal time! And luckily when I finally got around to recharging my watch this morning I found the trusty gadget had somehow saved my stats just before dying! Thanks for the tip!

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