The Summer Tempo
This is the first part in a series on training
Summer training is an essential part of the recipe for fall success. Without the summer miles an athlete would be severely handicapped entering the season. The question is not if you should be training in the summer, but what type of workouts should you be doing?
There is a wide range of opinions on this topic, but one workout style that almost any coach will agree on is the tempo workout. But what exactly is the definition of a tempo run? There is much scientific debate dealing with Vo2 Max and Lactate Threshold training, but we want to keep it simple and keep you in shape. For the purposes of this article tempo running will mean two things: a pace roughly your current 3 mile fitness plus 30 seconds a mile as well as a pace that feels comfortably hard. The second factor is used as a gauge since sometimes the athlete either doesn't have a firm idea on what their current fitness is, or their body is lethargic the day of the tempo and the pace of 30 seconds slower than 3 mile pace is still too quick. So for a review, imagine your current 3 mile race pace is 21 minutes. That equals 7 minute mile pace. Your tempo effort would be at 7:30 pace per mile.
We have the formula now, but how do we apply it in workout format? Let's put some structure to it and come up with three workouts that you can do this summer. First, I want to note that workouts will mainly be time oriented, not distance oriented, and this is because athletes of various ability levels can all complete the workout at the same time, in addition to the fact that even one runner will have good days and bad days. Our goal time for the tempo workout is 20 minutes total worth of work, so let's get down to business.
Workout 1: The Straight Tempo
This workout is simple and straightforward. Take your tempo pace that we derived from your current 3 mile pace and run that for 20 minutes straight. Obviously you should also do a warm-up routine like you would do for a race to get your body ready to run at a quick effort. In the summer your 3 mile is usually a bit slower than what it would be in November on an xc course so don't bite off more than you can chew early in the workout because it will hinder you in the end.
Workout 2: The Broken Tempo
Perhaps it is just too hot to finish a 20 minute tempo without drop-off. That is fine, just break it up! You will want to do this workout with limited recovery, so don't expect long time between bouts of running. A sample of this might be 4x5 minutes at tempo pace with 1 minute jogging or standing recovery. You don't want your recovery segments to be too long as that means your heart rate might lower significantly and you would miss some of the gains this type of running can achieve.
Workout 3: The 2 Mile Race Tempo
2 Mile races are very common around the south in the summer due to the extreme heat. This is a perfect time to combine the race and your tempo. How do we do it? Well let's take your tempo pace (using the example that would put us at 15 minutes for 2 miles) and run that in the 2 mile race. After your race is finished, you can take a minute and grab a sip if you need, then finish 20 minutes worth of running minus the time you ran your race. After a 15 minute 2 mile you would be running 5 more minutes at your tempo effort.
And there you go, some summer workouts you can do on your own or with your team. If you have any questions feel free to send a message!