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Tempo Time

Someone once asked me if I could only do one hard workout for the rest of my life what would it be? In the first place that’s an unfair question, kind of like asking if you could only eat one thing what would it be (my wife’s lasagna), but I digress. The fact is that there is a plethora of workouts that we can do on a rotating basis to help us avoid getting stale or bored and keep us fit and in the position of being able to afford to eat more of my wife’s lasagna. But if pressed for the all time single workout that by itself would do more to positively impact your race day performance I would answer with a clean conscience, the tempo run.

Tempo runs are those runs done at a steady pace at or slightly beyond your lactate threshold. Your lactate threshold is the point at which your ability to buffer lactic acid begins to be surpassed by lactic acid production. Studies have shown that running speed at lactate threshold is the best predictor of distance running performance. By running at least once a week at our lactate threshold we can gradually “push the envelope” outward as we physiologically adapt. The big question for many of us then is how to determine what our tempo run pace should be? Fortunately, there are a few ways to access your tempo time.

Comfortably Hard: I know it’s an oxymoron, kind of like “good grief”. How can something be “comfortable” and at the same time “hard”? Yet that is exactly what tempo run pace should feel like. You are running fast enough to feel like you are working hard, but if you had to, you could keep it going for an hour. If running with a training partner, conversation is limited to a few words here and there but no lengthy diatribes can be tolerated. For that reason I suggest a tempo run with your boss.

80% of VO2 max pace: Odds are you don’t know your VO2 max pace and you don’t have a handy treadmill with a team of crack exercise physiologists to figure it out for you. The speed that you can run a 3000-meter race would be a close estimation of 100% of your VO2max pace. Take 80% of that speed (20% slower) and you know how fast to run your tempo run. I work with a young man who has run 3000 meters in 7:52 which is 63 seconds every 400 meters (the dude is fast). 20% of 63 seconds is 12.6 seconds. Adding 12.6 seconds to 63 gives you 75.6 seconds for 400 meters x 4 equals about 5:02 per mile. 5-minute miles are typically what he will maintain for a 5-mile tempo run (I told you he was fast).

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Running When You Travel

I travel a lot for work. I often get asked how I fit in a run while I am away.

Running when you are traveling for work or vacation can be a problem if you don’t head out with a plan. My first bit of advice to all of you Cub Scouts out there is:”Be Prepared”. If you have ever seen my suitcase when I travel for business, you are either my wife or a creepy stalker. Hoping you are not a stalker, I will let you in on what I pack. If I am going to be gone for 3 days, you can bet I have 4-6 pairs of running shorts, 6 pairs of running socks, my Garmin watch (And Charger), sunglasses, a hat in case it rains, Gloves or foul weather gear depending on the time of year, and 3-4 technical tops (Adidas like the rest of my running gear, of course. :). It may seem like over kill to the average person, but to me, it just shows I am serious about getting my run in. Then if I have any more room, I throw in work clothes. Essentially, I am prepared to run, and look pretty darn good. I always check the weather of the city I will be traveling to in order to make sure I am bringing the correct clothes.

Now that I have no excuse not to, all I need now is a place to run.

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Should I run a half marathon before a marathon?

Expert Panel Question???


“I’m planning on running the Ogden Marathon this May and am wondering about racing beforehand. Particularly, I’m wondering if I should do a 1/2 marathon race 6 weeks before the marathon or just use that half marathon as a training run?”

(ask your questions to the UtahRunning.com Experts here)


The amount of time it takes to recover from racing is different for everyone. Some bounce back relatively quickly, while others recover more slowly. The general rule is that it takes about one day to recover for every mile that you race. So, it will take almost two weeks for you to be fully recovered from a half marathon.

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Coffee? Good, bad? With/Without caffeine? before a run?

Expert Panel Question???

Question: “Coffee? Good, bad? With/Without caffeine? before a run?”

(ask your questions to the UtahRunning.com Experts here)


To caffeinate or not?

Many runners enjoy a cup of coffee before running or racing and the current research shows that this may enhance performance. Though the exact mechanism of action is not known, current theories suggest that caffeine may alter our perceived exertion, such that we are able to run harder without feeling that our effort level has changed OR caffeine may directly stimulate the neural activation of muscle. Whatever the mechanism, ingesting small amounts of caffeine before and during endurance exercise may give you an added boost. While some is good, more is not necessarily better. Improved performance and concentration can be seen with as little as 1 mg caffeine per kg of body weight. For example, for a 170 pound runner (77.3kg), consuming ~75-80mg caffeine (about the amount in an 8oz brewed cup of coffee) would do the trick. If you are not a coffee drinker, coffee in the morning may act as a diuretic and other sources of caffeine (sport nutrition products) may be a better option. (Many gels, and sport drinks/bars now contain caffeine).

In general, caffeine can be a good thing for us …remember that anything to excess can become dangerous, but up to 400mg of caffeine per day is considered safe and healthful.

by Kristi Spence MS, RD, CD Sports Dietitian

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by on Mar.03, 2010, under Expert Answers, Nutrition

Winter Running

by Lindsey Anderson

Winter running. Probably my least favorite time to train, but one of the most important. Building a good base during the winter is one of the best ways to having a good spring, summer, and fall racing season. Whenever I get asked how my training is going (especially by non-runners) they’re amazed to discover that I still do most of my training outside during the winter. I’m often asked what kind of workouts I do during the winter and for the most part it’s similar to that of the rest of the year except we do tend to do a little bit longer and “slower” interval work. For example, here’s what my training consisted of for the week of February 8 – February 13, 2010: (*For specifics about the intervals on Tuesday and Thursday talk to Coach Pilkington, he’s the brains of the operation! I just do what I’m told.)

Monday 2-8-10:
Morning: 4.5 mile run at 5:00am.
Afternoon: 9.5 mile run with the WSU team. Strides, drills, ab workout, pushups.
(14 miles total)

Tuesday 2-9-10:
Morning: 4.5 mile run at 5:00am.
Afternoon: 3 mile warm-up with strides. Mile repeats at Dee Events Center. 2.5 mile cool-down. Lifting in the weight room after as well as an ab workout.
(16 miles total)

Wednesday 2-10-10:
Morning: 9 mile run at 5:00am.
Afternoon/Evening: 5 mile run on a treadmill after school. Strides, drills, ab workout, pushups.
(14 miles total)

Thursday 2-11-10:
Morning: 4.5 mile run at 5:00am.
Afternoon: 3 mile warm-up with strides. 4 mile tempo run in South Ogden. 3 mile cool-down. Lifting and ab workout.
(14.5 miles total)

Friday 2-12-10:
Morning: 9 mile run.
Afternoon: 5 mile run. Ab workout and pushups.
(14 miles total)

Saturday 2-13-10:
14 mile run. A little rainy but it was a nice morning and a great run.

Sunday 2-14-10:
Rest. Probably my favorite day of the week. :)

Total: 86.5 miles

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by on Feb.17, 2010, under Expert Answers, Winter Running

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