If you’ve ever trained for a foot race, chances are you’ve used some sort of training guide. And chances are that guide has had certain days assigned as “tempo run” days. It’s possible that this term just gets overlooked, and runners never fully learn about tempo running.
For experienced and new runners alike, the tempo run assignment can be a confusing thing. What does it mean to run a tempo run? Why do I have to do it? Is there really any benefit in doing it? These are all valid questions that even I, a seasoned runner, ask. Instead of asking the questions out into the void, or spending hours weeding through all the opinions online, I went to a trusted source: a running coach.
Scott Hill is a talented runner who coaches for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training organization. He’s coached many runners through marathons and ultra marathons along with being a phenomenal endurance racer himself.
Runners are pretty simple creatures. We typically only want one thing: to run faster. If you’ve spent any time with a runner you’ll typically find that they’re stubborn- I mean determined- people. That trait serves them well in the sport.
However, being one of the most determined people on the planet, I can safely say that all the will in the world won’t make me faster. If any runner wants to be faster, they have to train to be faster. One of the best ways to do that is by doing fartleks. Yes, fartleks. Funny name, but powerful speed training.
Fartlek is the Swedish word for “speed play.” Fartleks are a type of interval training for runners. It was developed in 1937 by Swedish coach, Gosta Holmer. Holmer developed this training for his cross country teams who had a terrible record. The effective speed plays focus on running faster than race pace to train. Fartleks were so successful that they have been widely adopted and used since.
I’ve heard all of these and more. I’ve also heard every one of these rules debunked at one point or another. It can be confusing at times to know exactly what we are supposed to do to ensure optimal running performance and health.
Recently another long standing “rule” of running was challenged in the news. The New York Times reported that the 10% rule was put under the microscope to see if its tenure still holds true or if it ever deserved its position as valid advice in the first place.
The 10% rule states that a runner should not increase their mileage more than 10% each week. The idea is that this gradual increase will prevent the body from succumbing to injury. This rule was put to the test, and studies found that it didn’t hold up: Just as many runners sustained injuries who followed the rule as those who did not.
So, what does this mean? Can a runner start out at a 10 mile total one week, and then jump up to 30 the next week? Will this increased distance and stress play no role in promoting an injury?
I ran my first marathon in the spring of 2007. There were medic tents located every few miles along the course. That made perfect sense to me however, I was utterly confused about the continuous offers of Vaseline on a stick. The medics had large tongue depressors with heaping dollops of petroleum jelly on the ends. As I passed the tents they held them out hollering, “Vaseline? Vaseline?”
My best guess was that runners must like to use Vaseline for lip balm to keep their lips from getting dry.
Somewhere around mile 13 all my curiosity was cured. I was passing yet another tent and ignoring the offer for jelly on a stick when I heard thundering steps behind me and a primal scream rang out, “VASELINE!!!!”
The male runner was doing some sort of bow-legged hop as he quickly grabbed the aid and proceeded to slather it all over his nether region.
All questions were then answered and I got my first glimpse into a dirtier side of running.
August is a great time of year to run a marathon in most parts of the country. The majority of marathons are scheduled to begin early in the morning so the heat shouldn’t be unbearable. See below for a few of the best marathons in the month of Augusta near you!
Grizzly Marathon: These marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, and kids 5K races are held in Choteau, Montana on August 6, 2011. Choteau is located in northwestern Montana and should be one amazing marathon experience. The marathon is scheduled to start at 5 A.M. for the marathon walkers and 6 A.M. for the regular marathon and half marathon participants. Each marathon participant will receive a finishers medal, a beanie, and t-shirt. Be sure to attend the huge expo before the race for new fitness tips plus some of the top 2011 gear.