an athlete photographer's blog

Tempo Run

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. – Colin Powell

The Run
4.91 miles

The Picture

Anneberg Park

The Recap

I’m so surprised how much I like this picture.  It really came out better than I expected for just a picture of the park.  This is Frank Anneberg park which is only 0.6 miles off of Manhattan’s Linear Trail.  The park has your typical things, baseball fields, soccer fields, playground, and resident Canadian geese.  A 1.9 mile dirt trail encircles the park.  It reminded me of the park we used to visit when we lived in Alabama.

Earlier in the day, I decided that this run would be a tempo run.  If you don’t know what a tempo run is, which I didn’t until yesterday, here is the definition from Competitor:  “A tempo run is defined as a sustained, steady effort over a set distance or predetermined length of time.”  It’s different from intervals and fartleks which are usually shorter bursts.  Based on a different article I read (which now I can’t find), I decided to insert three 5 minute tempo periods into my run.  The Linear Trail seemed like a great place to do it because it is relatively flat and I could focus on my pace and time versus just getting up the hills.

Up until this point, I haven’t talk at all about pace.  Nowadays, I tell people I’m “slow.”  Because I am – compared to my former, younger self, when I was “fast.”  But slow and fast are words of comparison.  I don’t like to talk pace with other runners.  It’s like comparing test scores.  If I start boasting about how I got an 86% on an exam and the person I’m talking to got a 70%, how does that make them feel?  And if I am talking to someone else proudly about my 86% and they got a 95%, what are they to say?  But I feel like it’s important this time, since the tempo run is all about pace.  And I feel like it’s ok because I’m sharing a comparison between me and me.

In my 20s, I usually ran around an 8:00-8:30 mile pace.  It’s been way too long since my 5K PR, but I think it was 22 minutes and some change.  I ALWAYS wanted to be at 21:00, but just could never quite get there.  My fastest half marathon was 1:46:53.  Now I’m running a 9:00-9:30 mile pace for my regular runs, sometimes even slower. :/  Yes, you can see how far I’ve fallen.  However, I think 8:00 pace is still possible for me again.  I mean that’s what I’m working towards.

So for the tempo run, I wanted to increase my speed and sustain that speed for 5 full minutes.  I wanted to push myself and be realistic so I mentally decided to try to keep my pace between 8:30-9:00.  Except it’s really hard to judge that unless you’re an experienced runner.  I used to be able to, but not anymore.  So I held back from a full-out sprint, but increased my speed and checked it periodically on my phone app (mapmyrun).  I was blowing my expectations out of the water!  Keeping pace around 8:00-8:30 minutes.  I checked it once an it said 7:15 and so I backed off – eek, didn’t wanted to burn out.  I was in a barely convincing jog at the end of each 5 minutes, but I was exhilarated.  It was awesome to feel that speed again and it was a jolting reminder to my legs of the old glory days.

After the second tempo phase, I was looking for a picture.  The park didn’t really offer much and there were a lot of pedestrians.  I kept thinking, the prettiest thing I see is the sky.  But I couldn’t just take a picture of the sky so I stopped and tried to capture the sky on the pond.  It kind of worked and I like the reflecting trees.  I took three pictures in this spot.  It was the only time the camera came out of the bag.  It wasn’t about the picture.  This picture run was about the run.  I put the camera back and started out on my final tempo.  Honestly, I think I did pretty good considering I’m carting an extra 6 lbs of gear on my back.  It isn’t a lot of weight, but it does make some difference.

My legs were tired, but I was so happy.  And it made me realize that I haven’t been pushing myself as I should on my runs.  I had been holding back while trying to slowing strengthen my legs.  But I think now it’s safe to push myself more than I have the last few months.  The itch to race is stronger now than ever.  I need to find a 5K in April.  Now the real work begins.


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2 thoughts on “Tempo Run”

  • Awesome! I’m excited for you. You’ll definitely be fast, I can tell 🙂 and that was a great analogy about paces being like test scores. I never want to come off as bragging, because others might think I’m slow. I’m competitive but the real competition (like you said) is between me & me. Great post!!

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