Workout: 10 miles, 8 tempo (9:30-ish), Connects
Wow, I'm on a roll. A posting roll. Which sounds like it could be a delicious food item. Savory, not sweet. Duh.
Anyway, I finished classes yesterday so my evenings are no longer used for studying. Also, I'm officially a nine-to-fiver again. I mean, I had a 9:00-5:00 schedule before (more, actually, because of said studying), but I got to do a lot of different things to break up the day (work from home in the morning, go to school, maybe fit in a quick run, head to the office). Now, I get to sit at a desk. I'm definitely going to have to run during my lunch break because otherwise I will literally sit in front of a screen for eight hours and only get up from my chair, like, three times.
It was funny (but also kind of a bad sign) that my vision went fuzzy shortly after getting to work. It took almost an hour for it to clear up (does this happen to anyone? Sometimes my vision's a little hazy for a couple of hours after waking up, but it's never done it later in the day). It seems my body is physically rejecting being forced to work like a normal person. Being an adult is hard. Fortunately, I like what I do. I'll get over it.
How fortuitous that today was tempo day, because the delightful Professor Amy asked me yesterday about Hanson tempo runs and whether I think they're effective, which I thought would make for a more-interesting-than-usual post.
Before I started the Hanson Method, I was slightly frustrated with the dearth of Hanson bloggers out there (Logan was the only person I was able to find-fortunately, she's got a great blog!). I sort of felt like I was entering uncharted waters, and there were so many questions I couldn't find an answer to. Chief among them was "WHY DOES WEEKLY MILEAGE JUMP FROM 24 TO 39 MILES IN ONE WEEK WHILE ALSO ADDING SPEED WORK AND TEMPO RUNS AND WILL THAT KILL ME?" Mr. Google couldn't answer that one for me, unfortunately. I had to figure it out myself. Answer: I have no idea, but no, it obviously didn't kill me. In fact, it wasn't that big of a deal. I still don't totally understand how that happened, but it did.
Before we get to tempos, though, some pictures, because a good blog post must break up text with pictures. I ran by this creek today and failed to take a picture (too busy tempo-ing), but while I was skimming old photos I found two very different shots of the same place, which I thought was kind of cool.
Today, everything just looked dead so you're probably better off with these. My main goal in life is to convince everyone that Anchorage is the prettiest place on earth by selectively sharing pictures of only the nicest things.
Anyway, let's talk about Hanson tempos.
Amy's (abbreviated) question was, "Does your tempo pace (i.e. marathon pace) feel difficult for you? Is it difficult because your legs are tired or because it seems fast? ... [D]oes it feel like you could run a marathon at that pace?"
Honestly, my first reaction was, "huh?" It hadn't even occurred to me that most plans have you do tempos at paces significantly faster than goal marathon pace. I was able to think back into the distant past, however, to a time when I was diligently training for a sub-2:00 half (a failed attempt, but that's a story for another day, perhaps the day I address Holly's disbelief at my "I have a weak mental game" comment. I will say that I appreciate your coming to my defense!) and my tempos were way faster, around 8:00/mile (a 2-hour half is 9:09/mile, I think).
The pace of my current tempos really doesn't feel that difficult, but as the plan progresses I find that I start them with increasingly fatigued legs. The Hansons have you do tempos after your only rest day, so Thursday is likely the strongest you're going to feel all week. That said, as my mileage increases I'm feeling less and less refreshed following my rest day. In fact, today's run seemed on the verge of falling to pieces after the very first tempo mile. Fortunately, I was able to regroup, push through the first half, and sail effortlessly through the second half. One of the most valuable things I've taken from this training cycle is not to panic over tired legs. Often, the feeling will go away. If it doesn't, well, you'll make it through somehow.
My increasing fatigue isn't anything to worry about. The Hansons want it to happen. It's the "cumulative fatigue" they talk about so much. I still feel pretty great during tempo runs, but there is no doubt they are getting harder, despite the fact that their distance hasn't increased in three weeks (I repeated a week because of my Norway shenanigans, so this was my fourth week with 8 tempo miles, excluding warm-up/cool-down). So no, I'm not breathing hard, but running at this slower pace is nothing to sneeze at.
The Hansons talk a lot about pacing in their book, and they strongly suggest sticking to their prescribed paces. During the first weeks of the plan, many people are tempted to do all of their runs way too fast (I know I was!), but as they say, odds are you won't be able to sustain those paces later in the plan, at least not if you've chosen an appropriate marathon time goal. I could absolutely run my tempos faster than I'm supposed to (and in fact I often have to rein myself in), but I don't think I could do that and get through all five of the runs that follow it.
Amy also asked whether I think doing tempos at a slower pace will adequately prepare me to (successfully) run a marathon at this pace. I obviously can't answer that yet, but my gut reaction is YES. Absolutely. I have a long way to go before June 22, but the progress I've made these past 12 weeks is, honestly, astonishing to me. I couldn't even fathom running 40+ miles in a week a couple of months ago. I peaked at 40 miles last year using Hal Higdon's beginner marathon plan, and I felt terrible. Not fatigued, like I do with the Hansons; I just felt like a big ol' pile of shit. 15 miles made me quiver in my boots last year despite the two rest days I gave myself prior to long runs. Two weeks ago, 15 miles hardly fazed me at all, even though it was my fourth consecutive day of running. I know for a fact that I am much, much stronger now than I was at any point during marathon training last year (and I followed Higdon's plan every bit as closely as I am the Hansons'). I can't say for sure whether that will translate into a 4:15 marathon (eek! Putting it out there!), but I can say that this plan does pretty amazing things to a person. However, keep in mind that these are the thoughts of a first-time marathoner and not an experienced runner.
God, I should film an infomercial for these guys or something. I've obviously drunk the Kool-Aid. I like my tempos just as they are (you really can find anything on the internet) and wouldn't want to run them any faster.
We'll end with my stats from today's run because I worked hard for them.
Question: what do you think about tempos? What's your formula for how fast you run them?