Athlete: Michael Murphy
Prescribed Workout: 7-8 mile tempo run around marathon effort (6:20-6:30)
Result: 7 miles at 6:26 avg.
A longer “tempo run” is a pretty standard weekend workout for most of our athletes. Murphy is now fit enough to where he is no longer in that re-introductory period of building back up. There are a few reasons for this workout. One of those is that I’m not sure there is a better way of building strength (besides general consistent high mileage) than longer tempo runs. I believe they are paramount for anyone who wants to have a long season, and or race somewhat frequently. Most members of the club don’t pigeonhole themselves to a particular distance of surface. Along with our middle of the week workout, that involved more intensity, I find that a longer tempo run compliments our other workout well while giving us training flexibility to race at pretty much whatever distance we want.
Depending on what event an athlete is training for, that determines just how specific this workout is. Generally speaking specificity is not why we do this workout. I see long tempo runs as a way of sustaining and building fitness. Similar to how strides are done for maintenance purposes, I view tempo runs similar. In the past, when I’ve had athletes get away from longer tempo runs, and start to get more specific, I have felt that there is a clock ticking. It always seems like without this longer steady kind of work, a long distance athlete will only be able to sustain a season for so long. Surely that’s a very individualistic matter, but I’ve seen such a correlation to where we are running 8-12 mile tempos frequently.
I also believe that a longer tempo run is great mentally. Whether you are doing a long progression, or a straight tempo, having to sustain a moderate pace for that long takes a lot of focus. I don’t know that there is a safer way of challenging an athlete mentally than a long tempo run. There is something to say about having to learn how to focus for such a long period of time.
Some of our athletes will follow this workout with an easy long run the very next day, Murphy, a masters athlete, who needs more recovery than some of the younger “elites” — this is his “long run”. By the time you warm up property, run the workout, then cool down, the miles/minutes really add up.