Now that I'm all but officially running a half-marathon, I've done some research into the sorts of things I need to do to prepare for the race and to build up my strength, stamina and endurance ahead of this grueling race.
One of the first things I'm learning about is the tempo run, and I like what I'm reading.
A typical temp run, according to Runner's World, goes something like this: a 15-minute warm-up, 20 minutes of a challenging but manageable pace capped off with a 15-minute cooldown. That's 50 minutes of running but not all the same speed or pace.
The 20-minute run in the middle is the key, of course. It helps build up the lactate threshold (and I'll blog more about this later this week) in your body; that is, the LT measures how quickly the body fatigues at a certain pace. The the higher the LT, the more stamina you have. By building this up, you will be able to maintain your pace for a longer time.
I've not run specifically this way so it will be interesting to see how it works out for me. Initially I don't think it will be anything I'll dislike. I tend to run at different speeds throughout my longer runs (and 50 minutes to me counts as a longer run). Usually I start slowly and build up to a pace but I alternate for most of the run. I usually close out a race with a sprint at the end, and although I'm probably running pretty slow (I'm usually nice and exhausted by that point) I try to finish off strong.
Tempo runs, I believe, can be varied. For instance, I could run 10 minutes on each end for warm-up/cooldown with a 30-minute tough-but-doable time in between or extend the time to have an hour's worth of running. I'm thinking this run would be best suited for outdoors although it would be easier to adjust running speed at the gym. I'm just trying to get in the mindframe of running outdoors more often.
Regardless, though, the tempo run seems like a good addition to my arsenal of runs. And if I'm going to run as much as I think I will in 2009, I need as much ammo as possible.