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?