I love my long runs, and I can nail my speed workouts. But the tempo run is my weak spot right now. During last night's run I began to see why.
A couple of weeks ago I did a group tempo run - we ran approximately 5K at half-marathon pace and then another 2 miles at 10M pace. The humidity or something got me during the first part and I just couldn't keep up with the group for the pick-up, which I ran slower. This was discouraging.
Last night I ran with a slightly slower group. We did a horse-shoe in the park, doing 3.25mi around the top of the park at marathon pace, then went the same way back at half-marathon pace (actually, quite a bit faster). This time I managed to stay with the pace leaders and sprinted at the end. Total lift.
The difference? It's a mental game. When we sped up for the pick-up I started to think I couldn't hold the pace through the whole distance. I argued with my soft, pink brain, who was floundering about and yelping like Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure: "I can't do it!" "Come on Belle, you can do it!" "I can't! Aaaagh!"
In fact I could. I asked the legs, Are you tired? They said no. Respiratory system? No. Fine then. Brain, I call bullshit.
Running a more manageable pace left me with gas in the tank afterward, and the sense that I could have held the marathon pace for a good long time. I ran my target paces and felt strong doing it. The confidence is everything.
The tempo run is a sustained note. It has a perfectly-timed punch line, a crazy plot twist. It's a stare-down with Shelley Winters.
After the lovely sundown run in the cool breezes of nearly-autumn - truly we have reached the filet mignon of the training season - I went for dinner with a great friend I haven't seen in a year. Got to sleep quite late after all that. But this morning was OK because -
(Image by the talented Mr. Bingo.)