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The Professor’s Corner: It takes two to tempo

Hello my lovely jogging friends!

Change is everywhere it seems at the moment. With the new running schedule I felt it was also time to relocate Prof towers to somewhere a little closer to the club (yes my life revolves around Sandhurst Joggers). The Professor is much like a grumpy old man and hates change. I mean really hates change. So whilst new Prof towers is the best thing to happen to me in a long while, Prof felt decidedly different and responded to the change by sticking his head behind a chest of drawers for 3 hours and refusing to come out (true story). Anyhow, after a week of adjusting he is feeling much better and has come to help answer some questions about the buzz around the new and (hopefully) improved tempo run tonight. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere…

ProfQ. So Prof, explain to our readers what a tempo run actually is…

A. Tempo runs can benefit anyone and everyone from a new starter to an old recruit and a speedy to a steady runner.

The term ‘tempo run’ gets misused frequently. The experts (see Jack Daniels – Daniels Running Formula) define it as 20 minutes of steady running at threshold pace. This brings about a debate about what threshold pace is and the simple answer is the level of effort just below the body’s ability to clear the production of lactate, aka ‘comfortably hard’. The most important aspect of a tempo run is to maintain a specific and constant pace.

Q. That was really boring and technical – did you just copy it from a certain running website?

A. Yes. You know I have an actual life outside of answering your running questions don’t you? I have to find new good places to sleep around the house for a start.

Q. OK so 20 minutes of running – but the SJ tempo run is around 7-8 miles and takes at least an hour. How does that work?

A. The Daniel’s running formula book is targeted at track and shorter distance runners.  It also assumes that you are already running at lactate threshold when you reach that 20 minutes, when in reality you need a small amount of distance to ‘warm up’.  Pfitzinger, another running expert (go google I’m not doing all your work for you) states that a marathon runner should be looking to do a 9 mile tempo run. SJ’ers tend to be training for 10k races and up, so the tempo run distance tries to cater to that.

Q. Great – tell me why this is different to a club run?

A. Unlike the club run there is no looping. However there are specific pacers looking to help everyone from 9:30 min/milers to 6:30 min/milers. The idea is that you start the run with a group that might be a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Stay with them for as long as you can. If you have to drop back, you can join the next pacing group down or if you are comfortable with the route (which is available on the facebook page) you can continue at the ‘in-between’ pace for the rest of the run. The next week you can do the same again, but try to stay with your chosen pace group a little longer. Eventually you should be able to complete the entire route at your chosen pace – then you can start looking to push the gap to the next group. Remember that the idea is to be as consistent as possible – so don’t go and join the fastest group and then drop all the way down to the slowest. Whilst this run is aimed at helping you to get faster, it’s also useful for learning how to pace yourself. The last pacer will make sure that everyone gets round – so there is no fear of ‘falling off the back’.


Staying together

Q. This sounds a little daunting! Will it be of benefit to me?

A. Last week we ran the first ‘trial’ group and people of all speeds surprised themselves with what they were capable of. Club runs are great for miles in the bag and a catch up with friends, but it’s all too easy to ‘sit in’ at a comfortable pace and not push yourself. If you would like to improve and you don’t know where to start then the tempo run is a good place. It’s also a good chance to test out the interval work from a Tuesday or track on a Friday. It’s a really supportive run and we want you to find your new level – whether that’s pace, distance or fitness. Come and give it a try!

Q. Will there be a pacer at my chosen pace?

A. We are slowly building up the network of available pacers. When someone paces a run, they have to be capable of running consistently at that pace and to ensure that they can, we are asking people to pace at a speed slower than their own tempo pace (makes sense?) this means they are effectively ‘giving up’ their run to help. However, pacing is extremely rewarding in it’s own right and a very good discipline to learn. Try running even splits along the Sandhurst-Crowthorne ‘undulating’ road! We’re on the lookout for pacers of all abilities to try and fill a few gaps, so if you think you’d like to give it a go then send us an email or put a post on facebook. There are lots of pacers available tonight so it’s a good time to come and give it a go! The slowest and fastest group will be decided by who turns up to run.

Q. Can I see a picture of you with your head hidden behind the chest of drawers?

Nikki says: Yes. Yes you can.

Prof's method for coping with change.

Prof’s method for coping with change.

The tempo run takes place on a Thursday night at 7:30pm. Meeting in the Sandhurst Sports Centre (Owlsmoor Road) car park.

About Professor Moriarty

I am a cat who knows a lot about running.

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