Workout Wednesday: Tempo Down

So, we all know I’m a full-time grad student, part time coach/personal trainer, and all-the time nut job, right? Ok then. No one is worried when I don’t write for a few days weeks that I’ve fallen off a cliff somewhere *gasp* UPSTATE.

In case you were wondering, YES, this is accurate. (Image courtesy of Funny or Die)

In case you were wondering, YES, this is accurate.
(Image courtesy of Funny or Die)

No, no, no, I’ve fallen off a completely different cliff called 2nd Year of Doctorate of Physical Therapy School. MUCH bigger, MORE deadly cliff.

Anyway, long runs are happening all over the country for Philly, Marie Corps, NYC, Chicago, and all the marathons in between. Long runs are a dress rehearsal for the big day in a lot of ways.

  1. Testing your race day clothes, fuel, and routine.
  2. Checking in with your conditioning.
  3. Working out the mental kinks of running for 3, 4, 5+ hours.
(Image courtesy of

I do math when I run. Mostly, the math includes thoughts of how many cupcakes I can eat without ruining my race weight and how many more minutes I have to run before I can go home and put my pajamas back on.
(Image courtesy of

It’s important not to mentally check out during a long run. One of the ways I like to stay sharp (if you can call it that) is to tempo down the end of my run.

“But Abby,” you say, “long runs are HARD. Why would I want to make it HARDER?”

Because the marathon is harder than your long run.

At mile 23, you will be begging to be 2/3 the way through a 5K and hating it the way I am here. Begging.

At mile 23, you will be begging to be 2/3 the way through a 5K and hating it the way I am here. Begging. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m about to vomit in this picture.

Not every single long run needs a tempo time, but if you are a seasoned runner, they kinda do.

Take the last 3-5 miles of your run and bring your pace as close to goal race pace as possible. Not 5K race pace, marathon race pace. Get it there and hold it. If you peter out, slow it back down and get the miles in. But then you know you have some work to do.

What does this do? You have to train your body to work hard when it’s tired and to mentally be ready to fight hard for your pace late in the race. Simple as that.

Work hard in practice = best chance for good results at the race.

By "good results", I mean finishing. Well, that's what it means for me, anyway.

By “good results”, I mean finishing. Well, that’s what it means for me, anyway.

Now, you don’t have to kill yourself to get down there. You can also just put forth more effort in those later miles and forget about your pace. If you’re cruising along at a 6-7/10 effort, ramp it up to 8/10 and see how long you can hold it for.

Push yourself. Test your limits.

Now go out and run.

13 thoughts on “Workout Wednesday: Tempo Down

  1. I actually did this on last weekend’s long run. It was a 20 miler and I was like, “I could run faster! Let’s run faster!” It felt amazing and I loved it and I’m still living off the buzz created by that run.

  2. I love this reminder to push those last few miles. I’ve caught myself getting lazy the last 3 miles of a long run and basically jogging at a pace much lower then what I am capable of. I’ll work towards my tempo pace the last 2-3 miles as a starter!


      • I haven’t hit the pavement for a “long distance run” since I hurt my IT band a week ago 😦 I also have been getting nerve pains in my left ankle and on top of my right foot. I hope I haven’t pushed myself too far with training. I plan on trying this next weekend for my 10 mile run! Lately all I can manage is 5-6 miles before the little pains really start screaming at me :/

      • I scheduled an appointment for the end of this week, thank you for your feedback! I trust yours much more than my Google searching! lol, thank you again!


      • The IT band issues are gone (knock on wood! haha) but the nerve pain in my left ankle is happening whenever I “go on my toes” in ANY type of workout. Even zumba is causing me pain. It’s in the spot on the back of your ankle where the heel of the shoe naturally rests 😦 My race is in 4 days so I’ll have to endure the pain until I can get into the foot doctor.

        Thanks for checking in with me, your amazing! 🙂

  3. Good advice, I think running too easy is a mistake many runners make.

    I would even say the month before your race (lets say marathon) if you can’t do 3-4 miles easy, 10 miles at goal marathon pace, and 3-4 miles easy, what makes you think you can do 26.2 at your goal pace a month later?

    Kyle @ SKORA Running

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