Friday, March 21, 2008

Up Tempo

Yesterday afternoon I called Amy from the parking lot of the gym, hoping she could help pep me up. I was whining that I couldn't find the motivation to go inside and do my Tempo Run. "It's just gonna suck," I told her. She asked me why, and I explained that a tempo run is one in which you run at a "comfortably hard" pace, in an effort to train your muscles to not fatigue once lactic acid starts to build up in them. So it's not an all-out run. But it's not a nice look-at-the-scenery jog, either. And the suckiest part of yesterday's run is that, becuase of our lovely first-day-of-spring sideways snowshowers, I had to run it inside on the track.
Anyhow, we got into a discussion about what tempo runs are, how they help, and how to do them. I've mentioned them before, but here's a few links to good articles that can explain things better than I:
"Your Magic Number" by Adam Bean-- good for figuring out your ideal pace for different workouts
"Secrets of the Tempo Run Revealed" by Arthur Lydiard

Well, to make a long story short, I finally mustered up gumption to go inside and hit the track. I fiddled through my warm-up, taking a few breaks to tighten my shoelaces, go to the bathroom, read the notices on the bulletin board... then I got to it. I ran at a 9:10/mile pace for 20 minutes. The first few minutes kinda sucked-- it was faster running than what I'd done in my warm-up, or what I'd do on a nice easy run. But after a few minutes, my mind got used to the fact that my legs were turning over quickly, that my breathing was faster than normal, and that my heart rate was up (I stayed in the 176-182 range, or about 85-90% of max). It felt different-- not like any old workout-- but it didn't suck. I made sure to have some good tunes cranking, and enjoyed passing people as I ran my many laps around the 200 yd track. When my 20 minutes was up, I smiled a great big smile, knowing that I could definitely keep up that pace for another mile, and perhaps even dig up a little more speed. The real test will be two weekends from now when I do the Run for the Trees 5k. But it was nice to feel fast and strong.

After a 10 minute cool-down, in which I ran so slowly it barely felt like I was moving (which brought my heartrate down to 156), I changed clothes and ran upstairs to a new yoga class. It was a great class-- we focussed on "Perception," or how your perceived effort can change how you feel about a pose, a life situation, or, as I was thinking about, a run. If I perceive a run as hard, it will be hard. But if I perceive the run as fast and fun, that's what it will be. For my next several runs I'll try to focus more on my perception of how I'm doing and how things feel when I intentionally change my perception.

Now I must perceive myself as being interested in my day job. Have a great weekend and a Hoppy Easter!

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