Friday morning, after running, I went to get my hair straightened. Since I couldn’t get my hair wet for 2-3 days after that, it seemed like a good opportunity to experiment with tapering. Although I didn’t have a race on the schedule, I decided I wouldn’t run until Monday morning (3 days = 72 hours of no running), and then go for a tempo run, not race effort, but challenging enough.
· No running for 3 days.
· Tapering mentality: good sleep, good nutrition, grid rolling, light physical effort.
· Go for a challenging run Monday morning: 11K/6.8M total, with last 5K/3.1M tempo at average pace 04:24 Min/KM (07:05 Min/Mile).
I did everything right:
It would have been nice to rest and indulge for 3 days, but since I don’t take 3 straight days of rest often (or ever), it was worth it to take the opportunity to treat it as a true taper and try some things out.
My nutrition was spot on, I ate healthy and nutritious foods, and roughly counted calories so I wouldn’t overeat or undereat.
I got 8 hours of sleep every night for 3 nights, which you have no idea what a luxury it is for me. I could feel how this affected my mood, my energy levels, and even how I look (no dark circles under my eyes for 3 days!).
I did very little physical activity, took care of my feet by wearing comfortable shoes, and took care of my legs by using the grid roller every night for at least 10 minutes (which is longer than my usual 5).
Pay off time?:
Maybe my expectations were too high about what the taper would yield, I was sure the last 5K tempo of this run would feel comfortably hard at the most. My reasoning was that if the pace I was planning on running is hard effort for me under regular circumstances, then after a good taper it would feel somewhat easier.
In reality, this run felt hard from the beginning. My legs were stiff and not cooperating. I didn’t think too much of it during warm up, and just took it easy and ran at a slightly slower pace than my usual warm up pace. 2K warm up and 3K easy pace later, my legs still felt heavy. The 6th KM was a mix of 200 meters accelerations followed with an easy recovery pace for another 200 meters. And then tempo time started. And I was a mess. I couldn’t get to goal pace for the first 2KM, and although I made up for it during the next 3KM, it felt really hard and I considered stopping and/or lowering my pace every 30 seconds or so until the end of the run.
Average pace for the tempo 5K was, incredible enough 04:23 Min/KM (07:04 Min/Mile). Yes, I managed the time I wanted, but this run was still a failure in my opinion:
· I couldn’t get to goal pace for the whole first 2KM. This is a relatively long distance to not be able to get to a certain pace. I did a 6K before the tempo, and 6K seem like enough of a warm up. I think stiff legs from not running a few days are to blame.
· The whole 5K tempo (both when running under goal pace and over goal pace) felt hard. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy run, but I wasn’t expecting hardly being able to make it.
3 days of rest is too much for me. I might consider doing this again before a long race (a marathon, maybe a half), but not for anything shorter. I might do 2 days rest, or even just 1 day rest with a day of light running or cross training the day before.
I’m glad I got to try this out before an actual race, and there were certainly positives to this taper experiment: figuring out a good nutrition routine, getting 8 hours of sleep, and giving my body some well deserved rest.
Next time I take a few days off I will ease back into physical activity, and not try to come back with a hard run. As for my upcoming 5K race.. maybe I’ll take 1 rest day the day before.
Do you have your taper figured out, or are you still trying out different ways to taper?
It took me some time to understand how to do a tempo run right.
It sounds fairly easy, run at a comfortably hard speed for about 30-60 minutes. But that definition is quite vague, there’s a huge difference between 30 minutes and 60 minutes, and what is a comfortably hard speed anyway?
The time (or distance) and speed of your tempo run should be set depending on what kind of race you are training for, and if you are not training for any particular race then you can decide time and speed based on your preference of getting a bit faster, or getting better at longer runs.
Keep in mind that the tempo run starts after you are warmed up.
Figuring out your pace for a tempo run:
If you’ve run races before, or are an experienced runner, you are most likely familiar with what your average pace at race effort is for a specific distance.
If you are relatively new to running and haven’t run races yet, you could time one of your regular ones, preferably one where you’ve made a bit of an extra effort.
For example, if you ran a 10K in 50:00 minutes, your average pace for the run was 05:00 Min/KM or 08:03 Min/Miles. That is the pace you should run your tempo run at if you were training for a 10K.
I actually really like the 10K distance for racing, but also for training, it’s not too short that you have to go all out on speed, but it’s not too long that you are training more on endurance than on speed.
This is a great calculator to figure out your paces/times for other distances, even if you haven’t run them, but entering a distance and time of a recent race/run.
Figuring out your time/distance for a tempo run:
The time or distance of your tempo run will be directly related to the distance you are training for.
Since you will be running at goal race pace, you should not run your tempo as long as the race distance, leave that for race day.
Guidelines of tempo Run distance for a particular race:
For a 5K, a 3 KM (approximately 2 miles) tempo run will be enough. For a 10K, do your tempo run for 5-6 KM (approximately 3-4 miles). For a half marathon distance, start with 9KM/6M and go up to around 14KM/9M. For the marathon distance, between 13KM/8M and 19KM/12M should be enough.
How to make the most of your tempo run:
A tempo run should take some effort, so whether you are trying to gain speed or endurance, you should make the most of it.
Be smart and think thoroughly beforehand of how you want to run it, study your race times and recent runs times and find a happy medium. For me taking a conservative approach is best, there’s always time to go up in speed/distance next time.
Listen to your body while running your tempo to gain experience on how a pace feels, especially as time goes on and you get tired. You don’t want to run too fast or too long to the point of exhaustion, although taking it to easy will not shield any benefits either.
I really believe there is no shame in cutting a run short because you were too ambitious in planning of your pace/distance. This doesn’t mean you are quitting, it means you need a few more weeks to gradually get to the point where you can do the run without burning out.
I went for a tempo run this morning, 11K/6.8M total, the first 2K/1.2M being a warm up, the next 5K/3.1M at a comfortable pace of 05:00 Min/KM (08:03 Min/Mile), and the last 4K/2.5M at 10K goal pace of 04:20 Min/KM (06:58 Min/Mile).
Unfortunately I didn’t run the last 4K/2.5M at an even pace, the first KM of the 4 was slower (I really couldn’t push my pace any more), and the other 3 were faster. Talk about our bodies needing time to adjust to a certain speed. In the end I did average the last 4K at exactly 04:20, so mostly mission accomplished.. although I do wish I had run more evenly.
It was dark and gray when I woke up this morning.
After spring comes, we are spoiled with blue skies almost every day. A gray day kind of throws me off.
But it was perfect for a run, a bit of wind to keep me cool, darker skies with no sun to bother my eyes.
I went to the boardwalk and run 11.24KM/6.98M in 53:35, average pace 04:46 Min/KM (07:40 Min/Mile).
Did the last 6.24KM/3.87M at tempo, a bit faster than my 10K pace, average 04:24 Min/KM (07:04 Min/Mile).
Splits that put my last race to shame.
I think I need to stop racing and just run.
And I think I got my first running tan line. Nerdy or cool? I say cool all the way.
Do you have running tan lines already?