I have always been a faithful tempo run and mile repeat hater. For awhile I was also a mega-long run hater as well. AKA last spring and fall when I dropped down from marathons to half marathon. Running for three hours? No thanks. I've always loved interval runs because I love to go fast! Especially when I get to recover after. But run hard, continuously, for what feels like forever? I'll pass.
Outside of the recent 10k, I haven't done anything resembling a tempo run in a long, LONG time. I'm currently following some semblance of Hal Higdon's Intermediate 10k training program, and his plan toggles from intervals one week to tempo runs the next. I haven't done a tempo run yet. Ooops. BUT, I've been implementing my new favorite workout instead. My intention is that this workout will help me improve my fitness levels so that the tempo doesn't feel so hard, and isn't so daunting to think about.
Ok, so my favesies workout lately is hills. Gross, right?? I used to hate hills because they'd destroy my IT bands, and my knees, and usually my hips, and probably my calves. Sooooo essentially my entire lower body. After signing up for the Madison Marathon, Krittabug kindly informed me that "dude, this course is hilly." And then I got a'scurred.
Clearly if I start tackling hills NOW five months out from race day, I'll be golden for the marathon, no?
My real problem with hills stems from my poor running form. Combine my heavy heel striking, straight legged landing form with the already downward momentum, and the impact I was feeling on a regular run was compounded 100x. I've had races where my quads and IT bands essentially seized up and stopped firing, forcing my hammies and calves to do all the work. Sidenote: My calves and hammies are weak as hell. Also, ouch.
Where I live, there are rolling hills going from either direction from me. I've been running 6-7 miles for these runs and charging up the uphills, and recovering and super focusing on form on the downhills and flat areas. These runs have ended up near the overall pace that a tempo run with a warm up would equate to, which is good, and are great in a way that I don't think a straight tempo workout would be for me currently.
On Thursday night's run, on the steepest hill on the route, and also my final hill of the route, I felt my glutes engage in a run for the first time since approximately May 2002. Has anyone raced the 400m or 300m hurdles and experienced the booty lock or glute lock that results from that? Yowza. Our foursome raced the 1600m. relay at the state meet my senior year, and my booty was locked for probably 10x longer than it took me to sprint that lap around the track. End sidenote. So this is good, right? Hopefully. And maybe I'll try a tempo run shortly as prescribed by my plan, but I will surely be working this workout into my training for this fall as well.