Love the Treadmill

Generally, most coaches, myself included, only recommend using the treadmill for a portion of runs, or when running outside is unsafe during a training cycle. Given that races are generally held outside on the uneven ground, it’s important to get used to running on uneven ground, with wind resistance, and on courses with turns for best race results. The treadmill doesn’t do a very good job of replicating real race conditions since you can only run evenly in one direction on a nice, soft, smooth surface.

Generally speaking, treadmill running is easier than running outside. The moving belt enables faster leg turnover, making it easier to run faster with lower effort levels. The soft, bouncy surface of the treadmill also doesn’t enable to same soft tissue adaptations as running on a harder surface, so soft tissue injury is a possibility when returning to the road. Finally, there are no adverse circumstances on the treadmill – no weather, no turns, no cracks, no lumps and bumps. The body and mind don’t have an opportunity to adapt to the reality of running in imperfect conditions, on an imperfect surface. There is also a distinct psychological benefit to running outside that has been established in several studies. Research suggests that runners simply enjoy outdoor running more, and feel better after an outdoor run. (Side note: as a mental health professional, I find this super interesting. If you do, too, check out this article and this study – put them in Google Scholar for best results)

That being said, there is no evidence that running on a treadmill is detrimental. There are a number of studies to this effect, and the treadmill is a well-established training tool for runners at every level. Most people accept that treadmill running is just fine if it is done well, with proper mechanics, and in moderation.

If  you’re planning to use the treadmill for a portion of your training, here are some great tips to love the treadmill.

First, monitor your form to avoid injury. It’s hard to love the treadmill if it’s hurting you. It’s best to run most of your treadmill runs at a pace that feels easy and use the treadmill for speed work cautiously. The treadmill enables a runner to program a pace and hold that pace long after the runner tires. Running a too-fast pace when you’re tried on a moving belt can result in over-striding, landing with the foot too far in front of the body. Running a too-fast pace on a moving belt can also result in all manner of problems with running form. Poor form and over-striding can lead to hip, knee, ankle, and hamstring pain. To resolve this, monitor your form and your stride rate. If you stride rate is lower than at the same pace outside, you’re over-striding, using the belt to propel you, and at risk for injury.

Run a variety of runs on the treadmill. It’s temping to run the same pace at the same incline mile after mile, settling into a treadmill routine. The treadmill belt’s flat, smooth, uniform surface ensures that you work your muscles and joints in exactly the same way. Too much of the same is a bad thing and can result in repetitive stress injuries. For treadmill happiness (and less boredom!) change up your run, using the treadmill’s programs, or running a variety of speeds and inclines on each treadmill run. I’ve already posted two of my favorite winter treadmill runs – the SportsCenter run and the college basketball run. Here are two other treadmill runs I love:

  1. Commercial Fartlek – Warm up 10 minutes at an easy pace. When a commercial comes on, increase your pace by 30-60  seconds per mile until the commercial is over, at which time you return to the easy pace. Continue on until you reach the desired mileage or time. Warm down by running 5ish minutes at a 1-0% incline.
  2. Character Fartlek – Warm up 10 minutes at an easy pace. Select a particular character in the show/game. When the character comes on, increase your pace by 30 seconds per mile until the character leaves the scene. If the character speaks or does a target activity in the scene, increase the incline by 1%. Once the character stops speaking or leaves the scene, return to the easy pace. Continue on until you reach the desired mileage or time. Warm down by running 5ish minutes at a 1-0% incline.

Finally, make your treadmill run as much like an outdoor run as possible. Even if you could just pop your water bottle on the console, carry your bottle or wear your belt as you might outside. Wear appropriate running shoes, not beat up old gym shoes, and use the treadmill as an opportunity to mimic race conditions. Practice slowing down to drink if you normally do, or wear a race-day outfit that isn’t appropriate for your outdoor conditions (a great option if you’re like me and race in warm weather conditions on vacation during a frigid winter). The more you can vary your treadmill running, and make that running as close to outdoor running as possible, the safer, and happier you’ll be.

Treadmill running

Troy Conquers 26.2: The End is Nigh

For the past several months, I’ve had the great pleasure of coaching most of my family members for the Disney Marathon Weekend races. It has been a wonderful journey, and great fun to see each of my family members growing through the training. The best part of coaching my family has been working with my brother as he trains for his first marathon – as part of the Dopey Challenge. I am so deeply proud of him that it stuns me. Every time he achieves a new goal, I am filled with pride. The best moment was this:

Troy's Garmin

The text he sent me following his *second* twenty-miler. He’s amazing. I even got a little misty-eyed reading his texts. It has been truly my pleasure to see him finish this training. Here’s his take:

I ran the Volkslauf 20K in Frankenmuth, MI on July 4, 2014 as my first long race (more than 5K) since Disney in January.  I had trained well through the summer, but missed long runs or workouts along the way.  Still, I dropped 2 min/mile off my expected half marathon time and finished without injury.  It was a success.  The next day, I ran a 5K with Dr. Rachel as a shakeout and a glimpse as to what would come in January again.  I had never done back to back races and probably very few back to back runs.  But that was the future for me – training for Dopey and running back to back to back.

Thus, I consider July 5th as my training start date for the Dopey Challenge.  I started out following the Disney supplied plan. Then, in September, I switched to the Dr. Rachel prepared plan.  Since then, I have followed it as best I can; running through Lake Fayetteville in Arkansas, West Hartford in Connecticut, treadmills, and the Pere Marquette Rail Trial here in Michigan. Since training started, I have logged 406 miles running – 113 of which came in November alone.  Even as temperatures have dipped in Michigan, I have stayed outdoors; trying to avoid the mistakes and injuries of last year.  Staying healthy and getting stronger (running) has been a huge priority.  I have missed out or skipped out on things so much that I am sure my friends and wife are sick of hearing “I would love to but I have to run tomorrow”.  But the end is nigh.

In an early post (August,) I had mentioned my weight loss goals.  When Dr. Rachel visited for the Volkslauf, besides being my running coach, she also helped me with changes to my eating habits.  I don’t say diet.  I still drink beer, eat pizza, and grab fast food (sometimes while still in running clothes).  Nothing has been cut but instead portion size monitored and better decisions made.  I am down 48 pounds, feeling better than ever, and I think it has translated to better, faster run times.  The holidays are a hard time to skip the eggnog, the cupcakes, and the thirds at family dinner.  But the end is nigh.

There are 15 days, 15 hours, and 8 minutes (as I write this) before the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.  While I expect some of my new habits will carry with me into the future, the end is nigh.

Troy Conquers 26.2: The Easiest Hardest Thing

In his newest post, my awesome running brother really captures something that’s true about running – it’s the easiest, and hardest, thing I do.

 

It is hard to explain running and the brain worms (the compulsive desire to run a stupid long distance and sign up for races).  I never thought I would be in the position to be a distance runner and still, I catch myself thinking ‘Well, I don’t need that.  That is for real runners.’ Only to realize that maybe along the way, I have become a real runner.  40 mile weeks and marathons; planning days and weeks around mileage; traveling with twice as many clothes so I don’t miss a workout — I didn’t plan this and it hasn’t come easy.  Though maybe it has…

Running, running long distances specifically, is the hardest thing I may ever have done.  It is also the easiest.  Running seems essential to human life in some way and something that occurs without ever thinking about it.
We as a species seem born to run.  I watch my three year old nephew and realize that he runs until he falls over, everywhere.  He doesn’t think about it and has no finish line.  He just runs as though it was the easiest and most natural thing in the world.  And really, running is easy.  It is just falling slowly but in a very rapid pace.  There is nothing magical about it and anyone, yes anyone, can run or work up to a run.  Running is easy.

Running, running long distances specifically, is the easiest thing I may have ever done.  It is also the hardest.  Running the long runs is just time, a decision to put aside 4 hours of my day to go out and enjoy nature.  To listen to birds sing and see my neighborhood or a park at a calm 5 mile per hour pace.  Getting to that point, getting to running 3, or 5, or 10 miles is hard.  It is hard to get out of bed and strap on shoes to run for 3 hours.  It is hard to push through mile 15 and 17 as feet and ankles and knees all seem to rebel against movement.  It is hard to face up to chaffing and consuming half your calories in paste form.  Running from mile 17 to 18 last weekend was one of the most physically and mentally straining things I have ever done but I did it.  It takes being more stubborn than smart.  Running is hard.

Troy on run

Maybe that is what is appealing about running or what draws people to run until they bleed and can’t walk another step.  While challenging, the challenge isn’t the activity. The challenge is to push yourself into something you never considered possible before.  Running is easy to do but incredibly hard at the same time.

Amazing Holiday Gifts!

If you’re anything like me, holiday shopping is a little bit of “one for you one for me”. I love to find great gifts and this year I’m on a tight budget. Most of the people I shop for are runners, so I’ve collected lots of great ideas for runners. I you need a Christmas gift, a stocking stuffer, a small gift for one of the less-important days of Hanukkah, or a great little Festivus present, look no further.

If you’re shopping for the runner in your life and looking to save a few dollars, head on over to Clever Training, my go-to shop for running gear and accessories. Use my handy Clever Training discount code (TamblingCT10) for an additional 10% off!

Here are my top ten small holiday gifts for runners.

1. Lock Laces – Lock Laces are a great gift, and one that I’ve profiled before. These nifty elastic laces make tying shoes a thing of the past. They are secure, comfortable, and easy to use.

Lock Laces

2. Believe I Am Training Journal - This beautiful training journal was created by professional runners and features quotes, cute drawings, and helpful notes to inspire the female runner in your life. Check out the beautiful jewelry and clothing while you’re on the site.

Believe I Am

3. Win detergent – Keep your runner smelling fresh all year round with detergent specially formulated for technical fabrics. Special detergent is the key to getting your running clothes clean.

Win detergent

4. Oofos sandals – Oofos are seriously the best recovery footwear ever. They are soft, supportive, and come in fun colors for all runners. They’re available on Clever Training – use the code above for a 10% discount!

5. Add A Day Roller – For rolling tight muscles on the go, nothing beats an Add a Day roller. I love mine!

Add a Day Roller

6. Handheld water bottle – Eventually, your runner is going to need to take in some water on the run. I love my handheld bottles and have found a couple great options. Consider the Nathan Quickshot, or the one from the Amphipod line. Both are secure, small, and useful. Get one with a pocket for more storage. Side note – here are my tips for cleaning the bottle once you get it.

7. Pace band – Does you runner have a goal race coming up? Get them a pace band. These nifty little bands list the splits required to hit a selected finish time. They come in half marathon and full marathon distances.

8. lululemon accessories – I love all things lululemon and their winter running accessories are some of the best on the market. Wicking, comfortable, and chafe-free thanks to flat seams, your runner will love a beanie, headband, or gloves from lululemon.

9. Mantra band – Mantra bands are a fun accessory for the female runner. Featuring inspirational statements on a delicate sliver band, the Mantra Band is a great small gift.

Finally, for those of you looking to spend just a bit more, consider #10. A Garmin Forerunner. With low holiday prices, you can’t beat a Garmin. Tracking runs is easy and the new web-based Connect platform makes viewing runs, and learning from their data, a breeze. Hop on over to Clever Training and use the discount code above for a 10% discount!

What are your favorite running gifts?

Troy Conquers 26.2: Pushing Boundaries

Two weeks ago, I sat down to write about setting a new PR for distance: 14 miles.  Prior to that, the longest distance I had ever run was 13.4 miles during the Walt Disney World Marathon in Jan 2014.  Running the half hurt and I was not physically prepared for the run thanks to plantar fasciitis.  The DrRachelRuns training plan for Dopey obviously pushes beyond this boundary, so a few weeks ago I hit 14 miles and a new PR.

The week before (three weeks ago), I had limped home after running 12 miles and collapsed on the floor – much to the amusement of my wife.  I hadn’t run 12 miles since July and went out too far before fueling, didn’t carry enough water, and ran too fast through the middle of the run.  I took a day off to contemplate why in the world I was putting myself through such misery then got back to work.  The next weekend, I went out and put up 14 miles.  I was foolish though… again.  At mile 11, the cold and snow had set in along with desperation to finish before my Garmin™ ran out of battery power.  I sped up and lost all semblance of pacing during the last three miles.  I hit both a new distance and new half marathon PR (2:35 woot!!), but at the cost of suffering. These 12 and 14 mile runs were not great but they were done.  I couldn’t bring myself to finish the post as I went out to get ready for my next run; sure that it would be another complete study in misery. I was afraid that all I would have to say was how horrible running is and to abandon hope all ye who enter into this dastardly pastime.

Old Record

Old Record

New Record

New Record

Last week was 16 miles – new territory again.  I went in having learned from 12 and 14; a clear pace goal and fueling strategy based on the previous weeks failures.  As the miles piled up, I was amazed at how good I felt and how well the run was going.  I cruised through mile 10 and felt great through mile 12.  Even mile 14 was feeling pretty good.  The wheels fell off at mile 14.5.  I shuffled and moaned for another 1.5 miles to reach the finish line and immediately texted DrRachel that I would never run again.

Pace Map

I will be out there next week running again and this time 18 miles.  What I have come to realize, these long runs have really helped me to identify issues in my fueling and pacing strategies for long runs.  Each time I feel like death by the end of the run I can pick apart what I did wrong and where.  Going from 5K to Half changed my ideas about running kits and what equipment I need.  Going now from Half to Full I am learning more about strategy.  I had a good strategy to get to 14 and now need to revise to get to 18, 20, and ultimately 26.2.

Recovery the Dr. Rachel Way

All runners have to be mindful of rest and recovery, being sure to allow the body time to rest and heal after hard efforts. I’m not always the best at recovery, but as a coach, I have to help my athletes find the best recovery strategy for them. I’ve tried pretty much everything. Recently, I was recounting a few of my less-than-perfect ideas …

The time I waded in the frigid ocean.

Hood to Coast oceanOr swam in the equally cold Lake Winnipesaukee.

Lake W

“Getting the legs moving” by walking around Disney’s Magic Kingdom all day.

Disney

Or Washington DC.

DC

I’ve tried yoga.

Yoga

But my favorite recovery method? Eating all the calories I’ve lost!

Guacamole

Bread

Starbucks

Coconut

There you have it. My confession – I (foam roll and) eat. And that’s the way to recover!

 

Hot to Trot (and Shop!)

I love themed races and, even more than that, any race where I can wear a costume. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to run in costume and be part of a big theme race. I’ve written about my love of the Turkey Trot before, but I think it merits revisiting. In fact, the entire Thanksgiving weekend is my favorite time of year. I love the food, the events, and, truth be told, the shopping.

This year, like many other years, I ran the Manchester Road Race, a local race that happens to be a famous event. It is run every Thanksgiving Day in Manchester, CT. I love the Manchester Road Race and the great camaraderie it inspires. First, I made the big decision of the day – which turkey hat to wear!

Turkey hats

I got bundled up for the cold and headed out to the race. I found my friends and got lined up for the race.

MRR

This year was a great example of runners united. As we were lining up for the race, the organizers experienced some problems with the public address system. The sound was cutting in and out throughout the morning announcements. When the National Anthem began, the sound system cut out. Thousands of runners united to sing the remainder of the song. It was a great moment.

The race got started and I finally made my way across the start line. As always, the race was crowded and I ran-walked the first several miles. Things finally got going and I ran the final two miles at a respectable place. I always enjoy the great crowd support at the Manchester Road Race. All along the course spectators were cheering, partying, and having a great time. The whole atmosphere was festive and I loved it.

When I got home, I got to cooking and prepared my Thanksgiving dinner. It was delicious!

Thanksgiving

After eating a massive quantity of turkey, I took my time to read the Black Friday ads. I love reading the Black Friday ads. It’s great fun to see what the hot toys will be, and what the prices are on a random assortment of electronics. I made my shopping list (gloves, Rubbermaid containers, and knives) and got organized with a shopping plan. I’m never one to engage in the crazy rush hour of early morning shopping – or late night shopping as it happened this year. I like to get up at a nice, leisurely hour and then make my way to the mall. As much as I love Black Friday shopping, I don’t love the pushing and shoving that seems to come with it. I like the respectable, calm shopping that comes a little later in the day. I got the items on my list and had a great time wandering around the stores.

Rubbermaid

All in all, it was a great weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

On Feet, Spurs, and Pain

If you’ve been following along, my mom is my best running friend and my favorite race partner. She’s always ready for fun, and willing to try any new race or event. We love racing together.

IMG_0518.JPG

Lately, mom has been on injured reserve, taking some time off due to injury. As much as I missed my race buddy, I was sorry to see her hurt and missing what she loved. In this post, my mom shares her experience of diagnosis and treatment for a heel spur, including the dreaded cortisone shot.

Mom says:

In August, I began to notice a slight pain in my right heel as if I had stepped on a stone with bare feet. I put it off as too many days walking on paved surfaces training for a half marathon. A day off I thought would rest the foot and I could continue on. The next days were a succession of off and on days and no relief for the heel tenderness.

In September, I headed to Michigan to visit family. Although I took all my workout clothes and shoes, I could not walk a mile. Research led me to think the culprit plantar fasciitis so I ordered new shoes, compression socks, and various shoe inserts. I tried a few foot exercises half heartedly. Nothing seemed to help. I bought more inserts, this time from Dr Scholl, that had cushioning since just wearing a shoe was painful
When I returned home, I called my general practitioner and got an appointment. By then, walking to the mailbox was a teeth gritting event. She took x-rays, a heel spur was the culprit of the pain.

Next stop was a podiatrist who reviewed the x-rays. She pointed out that I had arthritis in both big toes (suck it up, Buttercup), a spur on my right heel, and another on the bottom of my foot. The spur on the back of my heel was causing no discomfort unlike the one on the bottom of my foot. Plantar fasciitis untreated probably caused the spur to develop. Her plan to “get me back out there” was a shot of cortisone, prescription Meloxicam, foot exercises, and a night time foot brace.

I had heard the horror stories about cortisone shots but was pleasantly surprised when a topical numbing spray was first applied prior to the injection. Pressure but no pain. The injection site would be tender for several days, but that was minor compared to the relief. My heel would feel odd for several days as if a wad of cotton had been shoved under the skin. Not numb, but pain free heel area made life better.

Now the end of November and I’m headed back for a check up. I have been following the exercise plan, taking the Meloxicam, and feeling much better. I added air plus gel orthotic shoe inserts to my shoes. The gel inserts are superior cushioning for my heel area, better than any other brand I have tried , and I’ve tried almost everything out there. I replaced all my walking and running shoes and am trying new types that offer more arch support. I am more careful of the miles on the shoes and the type of miles, replacement cost is minor compared to the months of pain. It feels great to be back out, even short distances. Although not running yet, I hope to soon.

Wine, Dine, and Rain

I love all things Disney. I especially love runDisney events – each event is unique, and super fun. This year, I decided to try an event I had never done, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. Mom and I signed up to do the half marathon months in advance and eagerly anticipated race day. Before I knew it, summer was over and Wine and Dine was coming up fast. Unfortunately, mom had been having some foot trouble – first with plantar fasciitis, then with a hell spur (poor mom!) so her training wasn’t quite as strong as she had hoped. Determined to persevere, mom made the decision to do the race despite her less-than-perfect training. I’m in the middle of my marathon season, so I was planning to use Wine and Dine as a training run where nice people happened to hand me water. Both of us were ready to have fun and enjoy a few miles around the parks.

As race day neared, the forecast grew more and more depressing. First a chance of rain. Then rain and cold. Then, 100% chance of rain, cold, and all of it starting around 10pm. Sigh. If you’re going to get rained on, at least let it be as Disney.

A night race is a strange thing. Mom and I got our gear together and took pictures of our flat runners.

#Flatrunner

Then we waited. And waited. I read a terrible book from the lending library at my mom’s golf course clubhouse. Mom took a disco nap. Finally it was time to leave for Epcot, where we would park, and get ready for the race. We drove up to Epcot, parked easily (and without any waiting at all), and hopped on a bus bound for ESPN’s Wide World of Sports. We got to the staging area with about two hours to spare. Mom likes to be prompt. :)

In the staging area, a DJ was playing dance music and teaching popular line dances. Photographers were taking pictures. Characters were available for photos. Generally, everyone was upbeat and milling around in a big field. We took a few pictures.

Wine and Dine waiting

We did some dancing. We sat on the ground and watched people. I was delighted it wasn’t raining. Mom and I had grabbed cheap, flimsy ponchos at the local dollar store, so we were prepared just in case. About an hour before the race started, we made our ways to the corrals and found a curb to sit on. We eagerly awaited the start of the race, scheduled for 10pm. At about 9:45pm it started raining. Then it started pouring. By the time our corral started at 10:30pm, we were wet, cold, and ready to see the finish line.

The course for Wine and Dine isn’t my favorite runDisney course. It begins at Wide World of Sports and follows Osceloa Parkway (the Highway to Hell, in my family’s lingo) for three miles to the main gates of Animal Kingdom. Once in Animal Kingdom, the course winds around and past the beautiful sights of Everest and the tree of life. Seeing the attractions lit up is a true highlight of the race. All throughout Animal Kingdom, the rain poured and the temperature dropped. Mom and I made time and hustled along – both to stay warm and to get to the finish faster.

After Animal Kingdom, the race course goes back out on Osceola Parkway and along toward Hollywood Studios. Finally the rain eased up and we were able to take our ponchos off and enjoy the run. It was cold, way too cold for my shorts and tank ensemble, but I was having a great time.  I didn’t know it, but Hollywood Studios had already decorated for the holidays and it was gorgeous. We ran through a road all lined in lights!

Hollywood Studios during Wine and Dine

Onward we ran, stopping to take pictures with our favorite family, the Incredibles.

Incredibles

Just after we exited Hollywood Studios bound for Epcot and the race finish, it started pouring again. I had stupidly tossed my poncho in a trash bin miles earlier, so I trudged along, soaking wet and really cold. We ran along the Boardwalk and around the Beach and Yacht Club hotel area. Amazingly, the volunteers all along the course cheered. They were amazing, and totally undeterred by the cold and rain. I am so grateful to them all for the cheers, smiles, and support those last few miles.

Finally, blessedly, we made it to Epcot and to the finish line under Spaceship Earth. I have never been happier to see that shiny ball in my life. We got our medals, mylar blankets (best. thing. ever.), and food boxes. Mom and I were smart and had stashed clothes and towels in our car, so we headed directly there, cranked the heat, and changed into dry clothes. After warming up, we made our way back to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. We had a small gift card to spend there and planned to use it. We enjoyed a bratwurst on pretzel bun, some nachos, and guacamole before the park shut down at 4am. We closed the party down!

Back at home, I took the best hot shower ever and crawled into bed at 5am. It had been a crazy day, but the most fun. There’s nothing like a runDisney event for a little bit of running magic!

Up the Tempo

As a running coach, I work with a lot of runners looking to increase speed. To run faster you have to run faster, and many runners are hoping to do just that, myself included! We’ve all heard the terms tossed around – tempo, fartlek, and intervals, but many runners aren’t sure how to combine those runs to make a training plan that not only makes sense, but helps them get faster. To start, its essential to understand the different types of runs and the purpose behind them.

Let’s talk tempo. A tempo run is a run that is done at a “comfortably hard” pace. Depending on who you ask, there are several different types of tempo runs. I will focus on the most traditional, the lactate-threshold (LT), or threshold, run.

Most runners have heard of lactate. Lactate is often blamed for muscle fatigue, though it’s really lactate plus some other acidic by-products of metabolism that build up in the muscles. At any rate, as your body works harder, acidic stuff builds up in the muscles and makes them less able to work as hard. You slow down when lactate accumulates faster than your body is able to clear it. When you run at lactate-threshold pace, you’re training your body to run at the fastest pace at which you can keep blood lactate levels pretty stable, thus keeping the muscles going and the pace steady.

A LT tempo run is designed to help your muscles get better at using/clearing the by-products of metabolism so you can run for longer at a faster pace. The more training you do at a quick pace, the longer you can keep blood lactate stable and the higher your “threshold”, or the level at which muscles reach their acidic limit. Basically, by running at your current threshold pace, you increase your threshold pace. Higher lactate threshold leads to the ability to run faster, longer, at easier effort.

To get this great effect, you have to train at the right intensity. There are several ways to determine if the intensity is right. Most experts say that a good tempo/LT pace is the pace at which you could run for an hour, but no more. For me, that’s hard to pinpoint, so I use some other, well established, methods to find the right pace.

  • Recent race pace – LT pace is usually about 25-40 seconds slower than your all-out 5k pace
  • Heart rate – LT pace is around 85% of your maximum heart rate

LT pace will vary based on how you feel, the terrain you’re running, and other factors related to training and stress. To make it a little easier, I often use simpler tests to determine my tempo pace. Tempo pace is about an 8 on a 1-to-10 scale of rate of perceived exertion (if 3-5 is easy and 9-10 is racing a 5k). Tempo pace is also the pace at which you can only utter a few words (and those words make sense), but can’t form a complete sentence.

Once you’ve found the right intensity, the next step is to determine the amount of time to spend running at that pace. A good tempo run should have an easy warm up and cool down, with a period of comfortably hard running in the middle. There are three usual types of tempo runs, short tempo runs, classic tempo runs, and long tempo runs. Easy, right? A short tempo run might be a 12-25 minute run with a pace at the fast end of the LT range. These shorter tempo runs are best for short distance race preparation, like 5k or 10k training. A classic tempo run includes 25-40 minutes of steady running at LT pace, and is a great run to include in the training plan for any distance. Finally, the longer tempo run, a tempo run that’s done at the high end of the LT pace range, with that pace held for 40-60 minutes, is a great run for runners training for longer distances. Longer tempo runs have the added benefit of training the body to run in a slightly uncomfortable state for longer periods of time, a mental and physical skill essential for success at half marathon and longer distances.

If you’re hoping to get faster, a tempo run is a great run to add to your training plan. Start with one every 10 days or so, and move up to one tempo run, or other speed-development run, per 5-7 days of training. Now, let’s get speedy!