I modeled this year’s training for the Marine Corps Marathon after the training schedule I used for Baltimore last year. The major difference between the two years is the type of mileage I’m putting in.
Last year, when I started training I was not a very serious runner. I ran cross country in high school, but hardly ever ran more than 3 or 4 miles at a time after that. I hadn’t received much training, and never considered myself a very knowledgeable runner. Since then, I’ve become more self-taught. I’m often reading articles, learning how to get stronger, faster, and stay injury free.
One of the major changes to this year’s training over the last, is adding Tempo Runs to my weekly workout. I know that a lot of the traffic to my blog comes from runners like me, out training for one of their first long races, who have plenty of questions about what they are doing. So I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned and what I’m doing.
Why do Tempo Runs? Simply put, tempo runs help you run faster. These runs are not sprints, but they are harder than just going out for 5 miles. There is plenty out there on the science behind tempo runs, but essentially you are pushing your body without burning it out. John Hanc of Runner’s World Magazine puts it this way, “Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. ‘Most runners have trained their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles,; says exercise scientist Bill Pierce, chair of the health and exercise science department at Furman University in South Carolina, ‘but they haven’t trained their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.'”
What type of Tempo Running is good for Marathon training? Really, it depends on who you ask. Some people say to stick to Tempo intervals, while others will tell you to just put in some miles at your Tempo pace. What I have been doing is pretty simple:
- The Pace: a 10 mile race pace. You want to be able to ask a question to your running partner, but not hold a conversation. You should be comfortably uncomfortable. Pushing yourself to the point that you would like to slow down, but not to the point where you NEED to slow down.
- The Distance: I have been adding my Tempo Pace to a 5 mile workout day. I will start with one mile of slow, warm-up pace, then take off for 3 miles at a swifter Tempo Pace. After roughly 3 miles I’ll slow back down for an easy mile long cool down.
These Tempo days have not been replacing my track workouts. They should be added as a more difficult day to your running schedule. I look at it like this, if I run 5 times a week, I have three hard days and two easy light days. My hard days consist of a long endurance run, a track interval workout, and a tempo day. The easy days are to help me recover while still getting in the miles.
Now, like I said before, I’m not in any way the most knowledgeable person on this topic. I am, however, an average runner looking to improve on my previous race times. I can say with absolute certainty that adding tempo workouts to the mix has both made me stronger and more confident pushing myself on the road. I suggest you do your own research and come up with the perfect Tempo workout plan for your needs. You wont regret it.