Test Driving My Tempo

18 May

I was complaining to someone that the so-called “Runner’s High” just doesn’t exist for me.  I just really don’t like running.  This someone responded with, “You’d probably like running better if you found a running partner that you could chat with while you jog.  It makes the time go by faster.”  Ohhh, is that the trick to long distance running?  ‘Cause this whole time I’ve been thinking that if I can chit chat while I run, then I’m not running hard enough.  :o\

I can find a LOT of other activities more enjoyable than running.  I run with purpose.  I run to either:

  1. Burn fat.
  2. Increase my aerobic capacity.
  3. Increase my lactic acid threshold.

No purpose, no run.  I never just RUN for the fun of it.  I run til my legs give out or my heart pops out of my chest.  Honestly, what’s the “fun” in that?  Hello, I’m dying with every stride.

So, I signed up for the Wissahickon Trail Classic. Finally, I can run with purpose (a new purpose, perhaps).  I figured I’d focus on just increasing my run volume so I’d keep my pace at my designated tempo pace based on my fastest mile time.  According to McMillan’s Running Calculator, if my fastest mile was 7:41 minutes then my equivalent tempo pace (what I call my “forever pace” cause it feels like I can run at that speed forever) is about a 9:38-10:03 min/mile pace.

This morning my cardio session (after completing the CrossFit WOD, of course) was to run an “easy” (as in, easy for everyone else but me) 2 miles at tempo pace to verify if I agreed with McMillan’s recommendations.  It felt about right!  I was quite pleased, actually.  Below are my heart rates during my tempo run:

At a 10:00 min/mi pace, my average heart rate is 173 bpm which is consistent with what I interpret as a Level 8 (out of 10) exertion level.  Meaning, I can sing the lyrics to the songs in my iPod but only with a huff ‘n’ puff for oxygen inserted every few words.  (I’m not sure how Janet Jackson does the whole singing while dancing gig.)

When I increased my tempo to 9:40 min/mi pace, my heart rate increased (duh) to an average rate of 178 bpm.  I felt it, no doubt.  But I don’t consider myself cooking with Crisco until my HR tops out at around 184-189 bpm where it feels like Death is knocking.

So for now I will keep my tempo pace in this 9:38-10:03 min/mi range and just work up my volume.  Sounds like a plan, Stan.

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3 Responses to “Test Driving My Tempo”

  1. Ben H May 25, 2010 at 06:12 #

    Hi Jessica! Glad you found my site, and Im glad y left a link for yours.

    If 173 is your average, and 189 is murder, then what is your target heart rate to maintain while training cardio? Is that what ‘Tempo Pace’ is? And, is crossfit more focused on high intensity and short intervals?

    • jessicamacho May 25, 2010 at 11:54 #

      Hey Ben!!

      So, my tempo pace is a pace at which my body should be able to handle longer distances. For longer distances, if I start out at a pace between 9:38-10:03 min/mi then, theoretically, I will be able to finish at the same pace. My HR is currently at 173 during my tempo runs and I suspect that as I become more aerobically fit my average HR will decrease as my heart becomes better adapted. For tempo runs I do not have a target HR. My target/goal is to stay on pace.

      Crossfit is a workout program that incorporates various aerobic exercises (running, rowing, jump roping, etc) with anearobic exercises and lifting (deadlifts, squats, etc) with total body exercises and calisthenics (burpees, pushups, pullups, etc) with plyometrics for power (box jumps etc). Generally, yes, it is high intensity and short intervals. For example, today we are doing intervals of 21-15-9 reps of barbell thrusters and pullups.

      • Ben H May 25, 2010 at 20:57 #

        Got it… the tempo pace is a target pace that you want your cardiovascular capacity to adjust to, versus training at a target heart rate. I thought 173 was a bit high for a target heart rate, but it all makes sense now, knowing that you want that number to come down for the same exercise in the future.

        As far as the anearobic exercises are concerned, is that really helping your lactic acid threshold? For climbing, If you are only recruiting 50% of your muscle mass in a muscle group and you breath efficiently, you won’t ‘pump out’ and fall off a climb. So the obvious combatant for lactic acid in climbers is to add more lean muscle, and increase aerobic capacity. So how does anearobic exercise help the lactic acid threshold?

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