MarathonMaiden's Blog

December 16, 2009

Tempo: FAIL (?)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — marathonmaiden @ 16:23

After two longer runs to kick off this week (plus two long ones over the weekend) I wanted to stick with my typical Wednesday speedier stuff.  Since the gym doesn’t open until noon during finals (and I’ve been really digging the get-up-and-go stuff lately) I decided to do a tempo outside.  I knew it was going to be hard to get my body to do it on my own (definitely have been relying on the tm the past few weeks) but I’ve done it before and I figured I could do it again.

Be  warned the next few paragraphs might get a bit whiny BUT I do have some perspective at the end. Maybe. Heh. And as much as it might sound all depressive I’m (mostly) over the total upsetness that I felt earlier today. Just need to vent 🙂

So the plan: warmup, tempo, warmdown.  I woke up on my own again (yay, love break!) and laid in bed listening to the wind.  But it was really sunny out so despite the temps being low 20*s (with the wind it was low teens – hooooo-ray for cold spells ) I counted my blessings and got up.  Did some corework before heading out too.

My first thought when I left my room was that it really wasn’t that bad out.  Sure the wind was at 25+ mph but when it wasn’t the sun kept me semi-warm (except my dang hands!).  I’m glad though I went when I did (first thing) because the wind REALLY picked up by the time I was done.  The warmup was a bit on the slow side and normally I don’t like to look at my watch so early in a run (because the first couple miles are working out the junk) but I don’t have a garmin and needed to be able to time my tempo-portion — which I knew the distance of.

So here’s the problem (and I am going to use my paces even though I don’t really like to, too much potential for comparing. Sorry if that bothers anyone!): The pace for the tempo section was 755 which is about 30 seconds than what I wanted.  I’m capable of doing much faster on the TM (and even outside during the summer!) but I was shooting for 725-730 controlling for the terrain, wind, cold etc.

I’m not going to lie: I was (and still am) upset over this.  I’ve used the ~730 as a benchmark because that’s what tempo was for my last marathon cycle and I know I’m in much better shape now than I was back then.  When I finished the tempo portion and quickly calculated my pace I felt so defeated.  I didn’t even want to do my warmdown after that.  I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  Seriously.  I’m the world’s best perfectionist and want to do everything right the first time.  I managed to eek out a half-assed warmdown though.

Overall thoughts? Well obv the knee-jerk one of “That was awful”.  I then decided to see if I’m an uber-overachiever with my pace and pulled up the McMillian Calculator and plugged in my last marathon time to see what it said for tempo pace.  I managed to only be 1 second per mile slower it told me to aim for at it’s lowest end.  Which made me feel less like a complete failure because the wind *was* brutal at times (and I hate typing that because it makes me feel like I’m making excuses).  But, like I said earlier, that’s about 30 seconds slower than I was aiming for, plus I know I’m in better shape so I was hoping for an even faster time.

I know that many of you will suggest that after 2 days on 11 mile runs my legs weren’t fresh.  But I really don’t think that fact tells the whole story.  Sure, it may have played a role but I think my problem was really mental as my legs felt not-lead-like.  I know I just couldn’t stay focused on the task at hand (tempo) and kept speeding up and slowing down while I let my mind wander. Boo! Why is running speed so much harder outside?!

Despite outside factors coming into play my main disappointment is that the pace wasn’t consistent at all.  My mind would wander then my pace would slow and I’d have to correct it.  So even though the overall tempo portion was “acceptable” according to charts I feel like it shouldn’t count as a tempo and that I should re-try it.  I hate how unfocused I was/felt.  It’s like if only I had kept my mind on the task at hand I should have been able to hit what I wanted to.

Now as I sit here and type I think enough time has passed that I’m not *really* dwelling on it. Helps that the the rest of my day has been good: compiling addresses for Christmas cards, writing said Christmas cards and other odds and ends that make me feel good.  Part of me wants to try a tempo again tmrw and make it a real tempo by either waiting ’til the gym opens or making sure I stay focused outside.  It’s suppose to be really cold later this week though (like colder than today) so who knows.  I just want redemption heh.

Also, keep the questions coming! And thanks to those of you who have already asked me stuff.  Hopefully I’ll get 20 questions by the end of the week.  But that depends on you guys 😉

And before I hit publish, yes, Matt I do post at pretty much the exact same time of day haha.  And although I finished this post a few hours earlier than ~16:54 I’m waiting for it now 😛



  1. Do NOT try the tempo again; you did fine. Granted not your start workout, but those happen once in awhile. Trying again will only tire your body more. Nothing is wrong with you or your training, you are just tired. Mileage + weather = harder runs. No worries, try again next week, okay?

    Comment by Rebecca — December 16, 2009 @ 16:56

  2. Don’t worry – it sounds like you did better than you actually THINK you did….it will get better next time.

    I hope you are having a good day otherwise!


    Comment by Katie — December 16, 2009 @ 17:01

  3. Haha, welcome to my life. There are so many days when I’ve run what I thought was a good run only to see that the pace was crap. Don’t know what to tell you other than there are 2938479387 factors that play into whether a run is good or bad and this one just happened to be bad.

    Comment by EarlyRunner — December 16, 2009 @ 17:13

  4. agree that there a jillion factors — and the point is putting the effort in, not hitting a specific time! i still don’t think you can really discount the back to back 11 milers, though. i know you are looking to streak but i can’t imagine your legs couldn’t benefit from a day of rest . . .even to prove to your mind it’s okay to do so.

    finally — i have to say, i think it’s just fine to post times! after all, if people want to compare, they’ll find something to compare about anyway, whether it’s mileage, races run, qualifying for boston etc. i definitely look up to superfast runners (like jess for example) and love living vicariously through their speedy jaunts 🙂 i only compare me to me!

    Comment by sarah (ghost world) — December 16, 2009 @ 17:18

  5. You had a bad run… It happens to me all the time. Just pick yourself up and own it tomorrow (not a tempo though; take some rest).

    I think what really happened was that you experienced what it is like to run a tempo outside. Running outside is harder than running on a treadmill. Think hills + weather + terrain + ect… You probably put in the same effort, but the pace was slower because of the conditions. Does that make sense?

    Comment by Matt — December 16, 2009 @ 18:10

  6. Running in the wind does kind of eff things up…just sayin.. ❤

    Comment by Kathleen — December 16, 2009 @ 18:37

  7. You did fine! Like everyone else said, there are always going to be a bajillion factors.

    I wouldn’t suggest trying again on the TM, though. I mean, you know you can do a tempo on a TM. But races are (duh) outside. So just try again next week!

    Comment by Alex — December 16, 2009 @ 19:07

  8. Think about all of the incredible runs you have been having lately. Don’t let this one “bad” run get you down. It happens to all of us…so don’t beat yourself up about it! I would suggest not trying a tempo again tomorrow–it may be better to wait till next week. Keep your head up!! 🙂

    Comment by Mary (Food Fit & Fun) — December 16, 2009 @ 20:35

  9. well don’t beat yourself up. let’s schedule a tempo run together, too, cuz i could use a boost in that area for sure. did your legs feel any different, like tired or tight or whatever? i mean my paces vary so much day by day and it’s easy to get caught up on a certain time. but “hard” can change depending on the day. so if you feel like you worked hard for that day, shelve it, then come back and kick tempo butt the next time 🙂

    Comment by Lacey — December 16, 2009 @ 20:40

  10. That is NOT a bad run!! NO! There is no such thing. Those runs build strength and character. They can’t all feel good or be easy. It’s the tough ones that make you stronger and where you work harderrrrrr – remember that Rockstar – cause that’s what cha ‘ya are 🙂
    Hmm – 20 questions? What’s your favorite food? or Where would you like to travel too to run a marathon?? Haha – boring but whatever, that’s me 😉

    Comment by eatmovelove — December 16, 2009 @ 21:43

  11. Karyn – go easy on yourself. It was the wind, plain and simple. Nothing you can do about it. 25 mpw is virtually impossible to get a decent gauge of anything other than your mental toughness for even attempting to run, much less attempting a tempo. Try that same routine in normal weather and you crush it. Tomorrow the sun will come up and all will be right in your world!

    Comment by a marathoner — December 16, 2009 @ 21:50

  12. Although I identify with your sentiments, I agree with the others. I think it’s really hard to hit the right paces on a windy and cold gusty day because the effort required to maintain tempo effort is hard to judge. The added wind resistance can sap your energy even if you’re not feeling it. It’s similar to how you can run over a tough hill in mile one of a five mile race and felt as if it was effortless but feel the effects only at the fourth or fifth mile…it’s similar with the wind. So I definitely think you should base your tempo runs on a perceived effort…the McMillian range is a good guide, but again, you have to be aware of the conditions…

    You’ll get ’em next week when the wind dies down a bit.

    As for my contribution to your 20 questions…if you had to pick one lifetime running goal, what would it be?

    Comment by The Laminator — December 16, 2009 @ 21:51

  13. I wouldn’t get down on yourself, it’s not worth it. Bad runs happen, so just focus on doing better next week.

    Comment by BostonRunner — December 16, 2009 @ 22:36

  14. Hang in there. Bad runs happen. Hell, I’m in a run-funk…for over a week now. Give yourself a break (a REAL break, not a 10mile break) and let your legs recover. You are in awesome shape and you know you’re in awesome shape! Wind is a bitch. It’s ok (((hugs)))

    Comment by runningfiance — December 17, 2009 @ 00:10

  15. As you say, so much of it is mental. You had an off day. It doesn’t mean your strength is failing or your conditioning is not as good as you thought!

    Comment by Katerina — December 17, 2009 @ 12:23

  16. You can’t compare an outdoor run to the treadmill. The treadmill is sooo much easier, plus you can set the speed. Also, wind sucks.

    Comment by runjess — December 17, 2009 @ 14:54

  17. […] hit that pace with the roads being what they were.  Now I HATE making excuses (as evidenced by my [failed] tempo post earlier this week) but the weather really was a factor here.  I was huffing and puffing at a pace […]

    Pingback by Mixed Emotions « MarathonMaiden's Blog — December 20, 2009 @ 16:32

  18. […] set on this tempo idea and going hard.  Unfortunately the last time I did a tempo outside it was an epic fail. Not only was I nervous about doing a tempo after lifting I had doubts about the tempo itself […]

    Pingback by Let’s Go Out With A Bang « MarathonMaiden's Blog — December 31, 2009 @ 17:58

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