This Runner's Trials

My favorite workout

A long time ago (too long ago!) in my early twenties, I wasn't a distance runner. In fact, I couldn't even run for 5 minutes. Back then, my favorite  form of exercise was 45 to  60 minutes on the elliptical. I'd hop on the sucker, pump up the resistance, go 5 minutes forward, 5 minutes backward, repeat for the entire time  and call it a day. To me, this was  the ultimate workout.

Now my preferred way to exercise is to race. The competitive side of me loves seeing how hard I can push myself. The (huge) control freak in me loves seeing if I can maintain that pace for a set distance. And the child in me loves getting shiny objects as a reward  for hard work ;)

But, alas, not every day can be a race day.

So what's my favorite workout?

  • Long runs are daunting, draining and hit-or-miss.
  • Easy runs are... well easy, so not the best workout.
  • Biking, swimming and yoga are all so new to me I'm not even sure I'm doing them right. And I couldn't imagine picking a favorite workout that didn't require these beauties ;)

That leaves one thing: Speed work.

Specifically, tempo runs. I heart tempo runs.

For a tempo run, you:

  • Start out with a warm up run.  Usually 1-2 miles at an easy pace.
  • Next, run HARD- my goal pace is between 1/2 marathon and 10k race pace- for a set amount of miles- usually 3-5 for me.
  • Last, you end with a cool down run. 1 mile or so at an easy pace.

And you're done. Wasn't that easy? Umm... no.

Doing regular tempo runs makes you faster. Period. Your body gets more efficient at running at an uncomfortable pace. You can read more about tempo runs in this article from Runner's World.

Why do I love tempo runs? Now that is easy to answer.

  • They work. When I first started doing tempo runs last Fall, my goal tempo pace was 8:15 per mile. I thought I was going to die the first few times I had to run 3 miles at that pace. Now, that pace is towards the more comfortable side of my running spectrum. I never ever thought I'd say that.
  • They make you feel hardcore. Tempo runs are a great, fun way to push yourself. I sometimes doubt my ability to finish when I have one or 2 miles left, but I'm always able to complete it.  I always feel so accomplished and hardcore after a tempo run. And I know I got in a great workout. This feeling of satisfaction stays with me for the rest of the day :)

The one downside of tempo runs? I usually end up doing them on the treadmill. I prefer ideal conditions and don't want the heat, cold, rain, wind, etc. get in the way of my hard workout. We did experience spring here in Charlotte for 3 entire weeks so I got in a few outdoor tempo runs back in March. And oddly a couple of weeks ago we had a "cool" front so I got in a great tempo run outside in the tolerable 85 degree weather.

Today was my first tempo run of marathon training:
1 mile warm up, 3 miles @ 7:47, 1 mile cooldown.

It was wonderful.  My hamstrings didn't want me to do it because they were screaming from hot yoga with Katie yesterday and my hilly bike ride this morning. But I didn't listen to them. I finished and now my hammies are grateful.

Tempo runs never disappoint. Go try one now :)

What's your favorite workout and why?

Comments (12) Trackbacks (3)
  1. Ugh. My tempo runs have all been awful so far. :( I will try to remember this tomorrow morning on the treadmill!

  2. I know you’ll get back your speed again!

  3. Tempo runs are not my favorite – but Intervals are! I’m still struggling with endurance for long distances so intervals are the perfect way for me to “practice” running at a good clip – and since it’s only for 1/4-1/2 a mile I don’t feel like I’m going do die the whole time :)
    I’m still learning how to hold back a little in the beginning though so I can actually get through 8-10 intervals. The first few times I did intervals I started out way too fast and didn’t make it thru the whole workout.
    My speed is slowly getting better though – maybe someday I’ll like Tempo runs too!

  4. Sweet, I didn’t know you were a Clemson grad! I’m a senior @ Clemson now! I’m the opposite…not a big fan of speed work. LOVE long runs; I can go as slow as I want! ;)

  5. Tempo runs are definitely great for improving your speed — but I definitely don’t love them! haha Although if I had to choose intervals on a tack or tempo runs…I’d pick tempo runs every time. There is something really satisfying about pounding out a couple of really hard miles in the middle of a run.

    I think I prefer fartleks over tempo runs though. I like to change up the amount of time I’m going fast for, and I think it keeps my mind more occupied.

  6. I like tempo runs also! They sure make you feel like you’ve had an awesome workout! It’s amazing what they will do to increase your speed (not that I’m very fast to begin with!) LOL

  7. I have never done tempo runs! I definitely need to start doing them. I hate running on the treadmill too, but I guess I better suck it up while it’s so beastly hot or get up super early.

    My favorite exercise is running when I have limitless amount of time and I can run far without any time pressure. I don’t think I’ve had a run like this though in several year. Why does life get so busy as you get older?

    • We’ll have to do a tempo run sometime Kelly- when it gets cooler out so I don’t die!

      I agree. I used to just love running forever and zoning out. But we grown-ups are short on time ;)

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