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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If I'm training for a marathon, doing well building my base, doing either a short interval workout (1 WU, 2 intervals, 1 CD) or a race every week, and doing fast finish (typically, 3/1 style) long runs....<br><br>
MUST I incorporate tempo runs into my training?
 

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No you don't need to do tempo runs, but don't expect to race anywhere near your potential if you don't. Tempo runs not only raise threshold level, but they also help develop power that is very useful over the final few miles.<br><br>
Why don't you like tempo runs? I enjoy them because they give me a chance to clear out the cobwebs and feel like a racehorse! I start with 20 min at threshold pace and each week I increase by 5 min until I'm doing around 45 min or so.
 

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Someone (I forget who) has likened your VO2 max to the size of your engine, and your lactate threshold to how much of that engine you can use. Interval workouts are a good way to increase your VO2 max, and tempo runs are the best way to improve your lactate threshold.<br><br>
I would say that by skipping tempo workouts, you are limiting your performance especially in races from 10K to the marathon. <i>However</i>, 10K race pace is close to your tempo pace, so 1 mi wu + 10K race + 1 mi cd is a good tempo workout. Are you running lots of 10Ks?<br><br>
I like tempo runs. I guess you do not?
 

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I'd rather run a tempo run than intervals any day. Both have their place in training but intervals remind me too much of track workouts. Yuck!
 

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Same here... I love tempo runs. Satisfies my need to "run too fast." <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">
 

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For the marathon, VO2max interval workouts are the icing on the cake, good for final sharpening when you've laid down a big base and built your lactate threshold. They will not be very helpful to you in isolation if you are not incorporating other speed work. Tempo runs and long runs, IMO, are the foundation of a really successful marathon training program. Or really any program down to 5k.<br><br>
Just curious, why do you want to avoid them? If you find them unpleasantly difficult, maybe you are running them too hard? Daniels says they should be run at a "comfortably hard" pace. I love how I feel after I've done one.
 

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Dropping in for a quick cameo before they come in and kick me out of here!<br><br>
Sure you can do a marathon without tempo runs. 30 years ago hardly anybody was doing tempo runs and they didn't become popular until the early 1990s. I ran mid 2:30s at altitude without doing tempo runs, relying instead on years of consistent mileage, long runs with long segments at marathon pace (which is actually a form of tempo running), and longish intervals (repeat 1 and 2 miles). That's pretty much how everybody trained back then.<br><br>
You can do very well without tempos--but then again, they are a safe and efficient way to improve your race times, and for masters runners they can become even more important because we can't take a lot of the heavy lifting of interval training. It's like adding 15 to 20 miles a week of training or an extra interval session but without much added strain on your muscles, bones, and joints.<br><br>
I coached a runner who just didn't like tempo runs so we modified the workouts by doing "cruise intervals" as suggested by Jack Daniels. Instead of 25 continuous minutes at threshold pace and run repeat miles with a short recovery.
 

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Is it long tempo runs you don't like? Look at Daniels' cruise-intervals at threshold pace (read the chapter on threshold training). I do them as scheduled, and they're much easier to swallow than long tempo runs. Look at my post from last night. Those 3-minute rests are crucial. My heart rate drops, my breathing becomes easy, and then I'm ready to go again. I used to do long tempo runs, and now following Daniels' Marathon Training Plan A in the back of the book, cruise-intervals have made a big difference. If you finished your plan for this week, and then started that plan, you would be at week 9, which I think would be fine. Your races can count as one of your quality runs, for the most part. So mid-week, you would run 2 miles E+ 5(5-6 minutes T with 1-min. rests) + 1 hour E. Just food for thought, my friend.
 

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hey, econo, everyone likes tempo runs. whatsamattawichu?<br><br>
you've listed lots of speedwork already though, so you probably like tempo runs, just wondering how to fit them in.<br><br>
first, give up the ileneforward racing plan. run fewer races, especially in the early phases of your marathon training. also, only do fast finish long runs every 2 or 3 weeks... they're very tough on your body.<br><br>
after you cut some of that from your schedule, insert a few tempo runs. you know the idea: wup, 4-6 miles tempo (i.e. 10mile race pace), cooldown.<br><br>
races and ff long runs will get you in shape faster than tempo runs, but you'll also break down faster, and have a higher risk of injury. tempos are easier on your body, and are more useful for marathon fitness than intervals.<br><br>
ps - if you have fun doing intervals, keep doing them, with care. but you already knew i'd say that.
 

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Econo... You've got great input here. I'll just support what the others are saying with emphasis on running the tempo (LT) portions (4 - 6 miles) at 15K to 1/2 marathon pace. This is the pace recommended in Pfitzinger training plans. So they don't have to be all huffy puffy bad things but rather spread your wings and get a good workout kind of feeling. I've got them tomorrow, can't wait!<br><br>
Steve
 

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This looks like an opportune time to introduce this bit of research as food for thought:<br><a href="http://www.runnersweb.com/running/rw_news_frameset.html?http://www.runnersweb.com/running/news/rw_news_20070227_RRN_Interval.html" target="_blank">Tempo vs. Interval Running</a><br><br>
I wish they would cite this paragraph:<br>
"Incidentally, recent research has discredited tempo training as a powerful booster of lactate-threshold speed, the adaptation with which it has been traditionally linked. The problem is that tempo training, carried out at close to lactate-threshold velocity, by definition produces very little increase in blood-lactate concentrations and thus does a poor job of stimulating muscle cells to get better at clearing lactate from the blood. Blood-lactate removal by the muscles is a key component of improving lactate-threshold speed."
 

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Even two sessions of ten minutes each at LT with a three to five minute recovery interval will serve you well. Start small and build them longer as your body adapts to them. LT work for me is one of the building blocks necessary for a good marathon.<br><br>
Aija
 

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I agree with the fewer races comment. Just noticing something else, though.<br><br>
Weekly mileage the last two weeks from 26 to 40, throw in two 5k races within 12 hours (one a PR), ending the week with a LR 17, and planning for a HM race the weekend following? How are you planning to run the HM?<br><br>
Careful, please, Econo. I'd like to see you at the end of February ... healthy.
 

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Good discussion here. I'm glad we can do this.<br><br>
The same article discloses this: "Note, too, that interval training is superior to tempo running when it comes to matching training paces with goal race speeds (<b>unless you are planning to run only 15Ks and half-marathons). "</b> My highlights<br><br><br>
Just speaking for me. Intervals are probably better for 10-15K and below racing or sharpening for priority races. At my age the shorter/faster intervals are more dangerous for injury risk compared to tempo runs.<br><br>
Econo's post said she is training for a marathon. Most marathon plans include both types of training. For running a marathon I'd bet she would get a bigger bang for her buck, like her workouts better, and less likely to injure herself if she would do tempos at a <b>reasonabl</b>e pace or do fartleks/speed play. If intervals were just insisted upon for marathon training those cruise intervals are good or mile repeat intervals.
 

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So I'll play gadfly here, just a tiny bit and say that in <span style="text-decoration:underline;">a few cases</span> intervals or tempo work can be counterproductive to marathon performance.<br><br>
I'm not really one of the proponents of the Maffetone stuff but there have been people who have been quite successful with it, often with no fast running at all. I'm not trying to make huge claims here, just that at least a few people have done OK or better with nothing fast. So tempo runs or intervals are not absolutely necessary for everyone, though I'll freely admit they help most runners a lot.<br><br>
Now here is my attempt to stir up trouble <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"> I think that long term consistency and getting your long runs in are more important to marathon success than tempo runs for most people.<br><br>
So let's make an artificial experiment for discussion purposes:<br><br>
1) between 50-70 miles per week for over a year with at least 12 runs between 20 and 24 miles during that year but no tempo work, no intervals, nothing fast.<br><br>
2) A 5 month marathon training program peaking just below 70mpw with all kinds of quality speed work but only 3 runs 20 or over. Prior to the 5 month program the running is spotty, 20-35 miles per week with a bunch of layoffs.<br><br>
I would argue that in this experiment, runner #2 will get to mile 20 first, but will get passed by runner #1 a couple of miles later and feel like he must be going backwards.<img alt="sad2.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/sad2.gif"><img alt="sad2.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/sad2.gif"><img alt="sad2.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/sad2.gif"><br><br>
My point in choosing this silly thought experiment is that for some runners speedwork is one of the <span style="text-decoration:underline;">causes</span> of inconsistent training because it increases injury risk. I'm not sure if I can really make the case that it's a great strategy to eliminate speedwork for this reason but I think there are some runners who would be well served to take a clear look at their training and injury history and optimize their amount of "quality" training so they are more consistent.<br><br>
OK, I'll go hide now. I've probably made everyone mad. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Great discussion!!<br><br>
I don't have much to add to this, but looking back over my log, I'm fairly sure my last few injuries have occured just after interval sessions. At my advanced age, I'm thinking I may have done my last set of intervals. For some reason 40 minutes at 8 mile race pace is a lot easier on the body than 4 x 1200 @ 5K-10 seconds or even 5K pace.<br><br>
Johnny (fan of tempo running)
 

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Hippo - you make some valid points.<br><br>
Miles as we've discussed to tears on all 3 threads is really the key. If you can pick only one thing to do it would be miles. It seems to boil down to how you approach a marathon. Are you going to race a marathon like you're going to race a 5K. As hard and as fast as you can go? Or survive it and say you've run one.<br><br>
Just high mileage day in day out, year in year out will only train your body to be efficient with what you've put it thru. Eventually you have to stress the body with other than just miles if you are going to race or improve.<br><br>
In a perfect world (and I know some don't agree; maybe many <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">) the ones who run the best marathons aren't training for the marathon 3-5 months out but are keeping their base mileage up pretty much year round knowing that when they want to they can get trainig specific for any length of race.<br><br>
On the 50+ thread it was discussed that you could take your weekly mileage, divide by 7 days (no matter how many days you actually ran), and then multiply by 3. that is the distance in the marathon where you can still make forward progress but can sustain the original race pace. With that formula you have to avg 63-65 mpw for months at a time to get thru the 26 mile race. I put a couple of my friends mileage thru the formula in the San Antonio marathon this year and last years' Houston and it was pretty accurate. I will put it to the personal test next Sunday as I've avg 65-70 mpw last 3 months or longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hi pals! Thank you for your excellent advice.<br><br>
It's not that I don't like tempo runs, it's that I haven't really found a place for them in my schedule. Last Spring I was doing slow-fast runs (out slow, back fast), and that was my kinda conservative version of a tempo workout.<br><br>
My racing schedule is not that bad leading up to the marathon:<br><br>
Jan 13 half marathon<br>
Feb 16 5K<br>
Feb 28 relay<br>
April 5 5K (sprint triathlon)<br>
May 4 marathon<br><br>
I've built my base from 25 (prior to Portland marathon October 7th) to 40, with cutback weeks generally every 3 weeks. I hope to work up to 50.<br><br>
I LOVE fast-finish long runs. But I will take mc's advice and not do them every weekend. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> (SS, this week is cutback/taper!*)<br><br>
*<span style="font-size:xx-small;">SS, I plan to kick a$$ in the HM.</span>
 

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I'm really suspicious of this unless there is something unique about the marathon distance. Great 100K runners do not run 200mpw or anything close. In addition there is a long tradition of ultra runners with relatively low miles per week who are able to drop down to a marathon and run OK times, I'm one of them. I don't fade in the late miles for any of the usual reasons any more - when I do it's because I screwed up my sodium or forgot to take my asthma meds <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"><br><br>
I'm not saying you don't have a great training plan, just that the absolute cause and effect between training miles and the point you break down is not there for everyone.
 

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Hippo -<br>
I'd guess you avg more miles than the avg runner who runs marathons. Your example of the 2 runners is arbitrary for sure and really bolsters my point as well as yours. How many are avg 50-70 mpw for a year to prepare. Not many, not enough. If you are running that many miles a week you're going to make it full speed to the end. All I'm saying is that once you've done that; speed or intensity helps.<br><br><br>
I'd also add that the uniqueness of the marathon distance is that for most; that's the farthest race they'll ever run. There might be diminishing returns for running 200 mpw to run 100k and 100 mile races. Higher risk of injury and time considerations surely would be reasons not to run regularly 200 mile weeks for 100 mile races.<br><br>
Google up Don Winkley from C.C. who is quite a competitive age runner. He's a 69 (maybe just turned 70) ultra runner who runs 24,48, race across countries etc all over the world. He doesn't put in a lot more training miles than many marathoners but his race mileage is high enough and often enough he doesn't need the extra miles as I suspect could be said of your training.<br><br>
We have to assume in all these discussions that one size doesn't fit all.<br><br><i>"In addition there is a long tradition of ultra runners with relatively low miles per week who are able to drop down to a marathon and run OK times, "</i> How do we know that if they spent some time on some type of intensity work in their runs that they couldn't run better than "ok" in a marathon. You can run an ok marathon on 10 miles a week if we determine what ok is for ourselves.<br><br>
As I mentioned on another thread; there are almost too many race distances to choose to run and not enough time<img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif">. And each takes a specific training. When I trained hard for my 50M trail run, my 5-10ks suffered. When I train this spring for 5-10K's my distance races will suffer. When I finally do a 100M most all will suffer.<br><br>
My thoughts are sporadic and wouldn't pass a high school term paper. Hope you can follow it. Basically I think we are in agreement.
 
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