Mary Baum

The Non-Tempo Tempo-Run

Thanks so much for all of your support for Nancy from my last post! She really is that awesome, and now you all know! :)

On a completely different topic, I would love advice from all of you! I woke up Wednesday with a 40 minute tempo run on my schedule. Easy enough – I’ve done tempo runs so many times before. For some reason, Wednesday was different. I could not get my legs to move. My stride felt shortened and my breathing felt far more labored than usual. I was absolutely dying about 2 mile into this workout. Don’t get me wrong, I know tempo runs are supposed to be challenging, but this was not normal. I felt like there was no way I was going to finish this workout!

Each mile, I checked my Garmin to see whether or not I was working hard enough to hit my desired pace – I was shooting for 7:20’s-7:30’s. No such luck. I struggled to even get to 7:50. And I mean out-of-breath struggle. And that was only for a single mile! I ended up completing the workout, but nowhere near the tempo pace I needed. It was more so a goal pace run.

So why am I telling you all of this? I want to know what you would do in this situation. Would you have finished the workout, and have been glad you got in the mileage, and not have been concerned with the pace? Or would you have thrown in the towel on any kind of pace, and just turned it into an easy run?

I seriously contemplated making it an easy run after about the first 15 minutes, but then for some reason I decided to keep going. I am not one to quit something – not ever! I guess in my mind, by stopping the tempo (even thought it really wasn’t), I thought I was quitting. Silly – yes. True in my head – yes as well.

On a completely different note, the Brooks fairy paid me a little visit yesterday! And by paid me a visit, I mean I bought shoes online and they were delivered ;) Brooks introduced the new Glycerin 10’s, and it just so happened to be time for a new pair of shoes! I can’t wait to try them out this weekend and compare them to the 8’s and the 9’s – which I love!

I need your advice! Would you have knocked out the tempo or kept going?!

24 Responses

  1. Michelle @ Running with Attitude
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude July 20, 2012 at 8:20 am |

    I just had this same problem with my run on Monday. I stuck it out, excepted that the pace wasn’t where I wanted it to be and got the miles in. When I’m not feeling it I usually at least try to get the miles in, figuring the next run will be better. Good job for pushing through!

  2. Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes
    Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes July 20, 2012 at 8:26 am |

    Mary, I can so relate! Especially now during the summer, if I don’t run in the early A.M., then even completing an easy jog becomes a challenge. Most times, I modify my target pace because in my mind any workout is better than none at all. (Although on Tuesday, I decided to scrap a five mile run; I was running inside on the treadmill, on the second floor, and our A/C was broken, so five miles wasn’t feasible. I ended up doing two.) Also, I always remind myself that the hard runs make the easier ones that much better :)

  3. Meredith @ Dare You To
    Meredith @ Dare You To July 20, 2012 at 8:41 am |

    I’d have done what you did – Stick it out! You’ll never regret trying your best, even if you don’t do what you set out to.

  4. misszippy
    misszippy July 20, 2012 at 9:51 am |

    Wow–we were having identical experiences this week (mine on Tuesday). I just died on my tempo and it really had me down. I took one step of walking in the middle of it, on the verge of quitting, and then told myself NO. I kept it going, but I was dropped like a bad habit by all my friends.

    So, it has played with my head all week, especially since I have a race tomorrow. I have no idea what to make of it nor whether or not I should have stopped and just run easy. When you find out, let me know!

  5. Meg
    Meg July 20, 2012 at 10:34 am |

    I’m going to side with the other comments on this post and say that you did the right thing by sticking with the workout. In high school, after my first workout where I missed target paces, I felt rattled. At the end of it, I expressed my concerns to my coach and she said something I’ll never forget, “These workouts are about more than increasing your speed – they are to improve your mental toughness, too.” It’s so true – there are days when my tempo pace feels much, much harder than it should, and I’ll shift my goal to try to stay at that range instead. Even though I’m running at a slower pace, it doesn’t necessarily FEEL like I am – if the workout is still tough and I’m pushing through, I know I am getting in a good session that is at least teaching me how to fight through and stay strong mentally.

    One thing that I have started doing, though, is tracking more than just my splits in my training log: I write down the temperature, the humidity, what I ate before, whether I’d drank a normal amount of water, and the time of day I’m running. I try to track these factors to see what might have an impact on my workout. It’s also good to see if it’s just one bad workout or if it’s been a string of bad workouts, in which case, it’s time to re-evaluate my training.

    Hope that helps!

  6. Beth
    Beth July 20, 2012 at 10:50 am |

    Sorry to hear you had such a bad run! I would probably have pushed through because I can be stubborn about finishing workouts, but I’ve also read articles/books by many accomplished athletes who say that if you’re not feeling it that day, scrap the hard stuff, make it an easy run, and do the hard workout the next day. I guess it all comes down to listening to your body in the end.

  7. Whitney @LiveRunLoveYoga
    Whitney @LiveRunLoveYoga July 20, 2012 at 11:04 am |

    That’s happened to me before! Sometimes I push through and complete the run at a slower pace, other times I cut it down to a 2 or 3 mile tempo run at the slower pace and finish the rest of the miles nice and easy. I personally like the second option, I figure if I feel crappy and can’t shake it I am tired and need rest. But like I said, depends on the day!

  8. Heather (Where's the Beach)
    Heather (Where's the Beach) July 20, 2012 at 11:13 am |

    I would have kept trying. Even if I wasn’t hitting the splits I was “supposed” to have hit…it doesn’t mean a total fail. Of course I’d have to remind myself of that LOL. But sometimes I have to step back and figure out why it wasn’t working, what was going on that day, etc.

  9. Meredith
    Meredith July 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |

    Hi Mary! I love your blog! I had the EXACT same thing happen to me on Wednesday. My legs felt like a ton of bricks, and I kept getting more and more frustrated. I’m training for my first marathon, and was really getting in my head about how I have to be dilligent, and push myself, and basically saying every run has to be perfect…then I read my Runner’s World quote of the day, “Relish the bad training runs. Without them it’s difficult to recognize, much less appreciate, the good ones.” Wow, did I need to hear that! Hope the next run is better :)


  10. Chuck Feerick
    Chuck Feerick July 21, 2012 at 12:54 am |

    I think the beauty of a tempo run is that it’s just that- tempo. It should be relative, not pace based, so you just run at what feels hard. Sometimes we just have hard days, so what that being said you nailed the run perfectly!

  11. Tyra
    Tyra July 21, 2012 at 4:42 am |

    I’m going to go against everyone else – I actually think that you should listen to your body. Maybe you’re coming down with something, or overtraining? Letting your body recover is the most important part of training, and you were feeling how you did for a reason.

    Obviously this approach means being really honest with yourself – if you just don’t feel like it then definitely push through, but if a slower pace is feeling like such a labour then there’s something else going on. It’s pretty easy to swap one or two days in your program if it’s going to give your body the break that it needs!

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