I tried something today that I haven't done in my running career: the tempo run. I know, I know, it's no big deal, but I as a rule I have avoided the "techie" words used in running, such as tempo, intervals, hills, stretching, and the high-tech like.
I thought the best way to try one of these evil forms of the masochistic sport was on a treadmill, especially given the moist nature of our week here in H-town. So I started at a pedestrian and boring 8 minutes per mile for a mile, devastatingly accelerated to 7:45 a mile for a mile, then hit the afterburners for a 7:30 mile. I then backed off the accelerator for another 7:45 mile and followed with a closing 8:00 mile. All in all not a bad run, but I had forgotten how sweaty and boring the treadmills at work are.
What did I get from this type of run? A good workout, especially when combined with about 20 minutes of resistance training and crunches. I liked the control of the treadmill, particularly when compared with my lack of exact mile markers when I run outside from the office. I liked the easy start and finish, but I struggle with the logic of a tempo run. Why not just goose it for 4 miles or so at 7:30 a mile with a short warm-up and warm-down?
I'll probably do more tempo runs in the future, but not often and only in controlled conditions like on my home outdoor course, on a track, or on a treadmill. I will also probably use the tempo run for a partial substitute for speed work that I am planning to start in the coming month (I still don't think I have completely recovered from the marathon...my lower legs hurt today for the first mile, and there really was no reason for that). To make this work right I'll modify my speeds to something like 8:00, 7:30, 7:00, 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, and 8:00. Now that's a tough workout, but I think I need a legitimate speed component to make this worthwhile.