A story of going from being a non-runner to planning for a marathon in three years...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Treadmill Tempo Trials

Click the center of the picture to play a short video

According to my training plan, last night was my first tempo run. A tempo run, according to Hal Higdon, is "a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near race pace." As a Runner's World article says, "it's what I call 'comfortably hard. You know you're working, but you're not racing. At the same time, you'd be happy if you could slow down."

When I calculated my training plan using the Runner's World Smart Coach, I used my best 5K time (27:23...an 8:49 minute per mile pace) as the basis. Maybe not such a smart idea. Last night's tempo run consisted of a mile warm up, a mile cool down, and three miles at a 9:25 minute per mile pace. Obviously I can run that fast for three miles as evidenced by my previous 5K time. It's just that I've never run that fast for that long on a treadmill.

Needless to say, I was a little apprehensive. I'm one of those people who can run faster outside than indoors on a treadmill. I've seen discussions about this phenomenon in online running communities, and the responses are always the same: Your treadmill's not calibrated correctly. It's all in your head. You're just bored and don't want to push yourself. Personally, I think it's because when running outdoors you naturally speed up and slow down for very, very short periods of time, thus giving you an overall pace instead of the exact same pace for the entire run. The treadmill, however, forces you run at the exact same pace for every second of your run.

Regardless of the reason, last night's tempo run was hard. I actually ended up trying to run those three miles with my treadmill set at 6.3 MPH. Assuming that I had my treadmill set to a 1% incline (while my treadmill has an incline function, it doesn't have a display screen to tell me what incline it's actually set at), this translates to approximately a 9:26 minute/mile pace. Close enough, I figured. Sadly, I didn't run all three miles at this pace. I ran some of those miles, sure. But I took quite a few breaks and just let the treadmill spin while I stood on the side rails. Then I gave up on the 6.3 speed and lowered it to 6.0. Also, for the last quarter mile of my cool down, I decided to walk.

Overall, I did my five miles on the 'mill. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but at least I made it through the mileage and didn't end up flat on my back like our polar bear up above. Maybe by the end of this training plan I'll be looking forward to tempo runs instead of dreading them.


Anonymous said...

I think that's amazing! Great job with speedwork on a treadmill. Tomorrow is supposed to be our tempo run and my left shin is hurting a lot... so I'm actually going to skip it. Cuz I'd have to it on the treadmill due to my nutty schedule and I suspect it's the treadmill that did the damage. I feel simultaneously like I'm being really smart and like I'm wussing out! Ah well. It'll be worth it when I run pain-free on Sunday.

And now I'm going to repost that in my blog. ;)

Lindsay said...

Comfortably hard... yea, that's what I meant to say. Not "uncomfortably hard!" hehe

I cannot run just yet at 1%. I used to before the summer. Then I ran outside all summer & fall. Now I'm only at .5%. I know that 1% simulates outdoor running but it's just hard! I'm wondering if that's why my calves are sore...

LA said...

Love the video! See, that's why I don't go to the gym! It's dangerous!!

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