In an effort to try to increase my speed for the Swansea half marathon I decided when devising my training plan to pop a few “supposedly” speed enhancing runs into the plan; namely, tempo runs and hill repeats.
Today was my first EVER attempt at a tempo run, and whilst it didn’t go entirely to plan, it was still pretty awesome!
The training plan for this week had one 30 minute run at an easy pace which I did on Monday, one 5 mile long run, which will be done at the weekend, and one 20 minute tempo run with a 5 minute warm-up and 5 minute cool down. This was the run I decided to attempt today. If you are new to tempo runs like I was/am then it basically means maintain a comfortably hard pace for a certain period of time. The point of it is to improve your ‘metabolic fitness’ so that you can go faster for longer (or so I am lead to believe).
So for my tempo run I had decided on a 5 minute warm up run then 20 minutes at tempo pace and then a 5 minute cool down. I also decided that this would be a good time to test out the virtual pacer on my Garmin (which I’ve also never used before) and set this to a pace of 10 minutes 45 seconds per mile, which I feel is a ‘comfortably hard’ pace for me. I was counting on Garmin to beep angrily at me if I fell below this pace.
As it turned out, I left the house at the exact same time as two of the neighbours who were out walking their lovely dogs, so I walked with them for 5 minutes and chatted (and made a fuss of the lovely dogs) whilst I waited for Garmy the Garmin (yes I name my stuff) to lock on to a GPS signal. Eventually signal was found, and in an effort to look like a ‘real runner’ in front of the neighbours I bid them goodbye and bounded off down the road at a ridiculous (for me) pace.
On a normal day, I would get around the corner and probably come grinding to a halt, but something weird happened. I got around the corner, and I actually felt good. Even though it was raining, and I was going UP HILL, I felt really really good! So I thought sod the warm up run, tempo starts now!
Half a mile in and I still hadn’t had any angry beeps from the virtual pacer so I glanced down and my pace was in the 9 minute miles! I did think it was a little bit ridiculous that I was going over a minute faster than my suggested tempo pace, but I was still feeling great and I was half a mile in and I was doing in the 9’s and suddenly the goal in my head shifted and all I could think was that if I carry on this fast I could actually do a WHOLE mile in less than 10 minutes! I’ve never broken into the 9’s before!
So on I powered, and the familiar twinge in my knee returned, but it wasn’t going to stop me, not today. And I rounded the corner from my lovely downhill slope to approach a rather steep incline, but it wasn’t going to beat me, because I only had .20 left before I hit a mile and I sure as heck wasn’t going to throw my chance at a 9 minute mile away by walking up the hill. So I powered up the hill and I got to the top and I rounded the corner and Garmy beeped it’s 1 mile beep and I looked down and I’d done this:
Anyway – fastest mile it may have been, but I could not maintain that pace for another 10 minutes and allowed myself a minute to walk. By this point the rain was starting to pick up and now that i’d let myself walk I didn’t really have the energy to get going again, so I decided to call my tempo a day and headed home.
So I didn’t achieve my 20 minute tempo at 10:45 pace – but I did achieve something equally (or maybe even more) cool. I finally broke into the 9 minute miles! I cant even remember what my last fastest mile was, but it definitely wasn’t in the 9’s! My old Nike + app has it at 10:26, and though I think I’ve gone faster since I’ve had my Garmin, this was a whole minute faster than that record, which is pretty awesome!
And actually despite not doing the full 20 minutes, it’s made me believe that I probably could do 20 minutes at 10:45 pace on the flat. If I can do a mile in 9:26 on hills, I recon I could do 2 on the flat in just over 20 minutes. So that’ll be next weeks goal, and I’m already looking forward to it!