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.

Workout Wednesdays: Over/Under

Long runs can get really, really repetitive. And trying to maintain a steady-state pace for them makes a girl (or guy, let’s not discriminate) crayyyy-zayyyy.

True dat.

True dat.

Doing and Over/Under workout keeps me on my toes and distracts me from the distance of the run. Here’s how it goes:

  • 2 mile easy warm-up
  • 2 miles at 10-15 seconds faster than goal race pace
  • 2 miles somewhere 15-30 seconds over race pace
  • Rinse, repeat as needed

Simple, right? 2 miles under, 2 miles over. When I go under goal race pace, I make a concerted effort to hold back and not blast out for two miles since I’m usually doing more than 12 miles for this type of workout.

When I go over goal race pace, I’m usually somewhere between 15-30 seconds over. 30 seconds when I get into the longer miles but I try not to go more than that because I want to hover as close to race pace as possible and teach my legs to run well with fatigue.

Smiling through the pain...with my ostomy. Can you believe this was a year go? Yeah, me neither.

Smiling through the pain…with my ostomy. Can you believe this was a year go? Yeah, me neither.

It really makes the time go by AND you get a great workout. Before you know it, your run is done and you felt like a million bucks.

In case you were wondering, THIS is what a million bucks looks like.

In case you were wondering, THIS is what a million bucks looks like. Girlfriend is living the dream.

Give it a try this weekend and let me know how it goes. I’ll be rocking my Over/Under on Sunday morning with the rest of NYC. High-five!

Have you ever tried an Over/Under long run or do you prefer a steady-state long run? Tell me how you distract yourself on those super-long training runs. I’m always looking for a good distraction!

Now go out and run!

Workout Wednesdays: Progression Run

There are a lot of runners out there. I mean A LOT of runners.

According to

According to

Some are just starting out. Some are long-time veterans. For the middle-of-the-road runners who have trained and finished several races, the goal of finishing often shifts to finishing faster.

But how?

A lot of runners already know the basics: tempo run, long run, hill repeats, Yasso 800s. But there are more nuanced workouts that can train the seasoned runner to run faster and become a more efficient runner.

Enter the Progression Run.


(Image courtesy of and Ghandi)

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Start out at a warm-up pace. Like, actually a warm-up pace –> EASY.
  2. After 2 miles, increase your pace by about 15 seconds in the next mile.
  3. Continue to increase your pace by 15 seconds each mile for 6-7 miles.
  4. For the last mile, hit it hard and see if you can reach your tempo or race pace.


Progression runs start out easy but can fool you. If you start out too fast or increase your pace too soon, you won’t make it to the end with negative splits (one mile being faster than the previous). If you don’t consistently pick up your pace by 15 seconds per mile, you won’t feel like the workout is hard enough.

There’s a lot of self control and discipline in a Progression Run. Done right, it is confidence building, solid workout without being a full-on beat down like track work.

Give it a shot. See if you can control your pace. Let me know how it goes!

Progression run = DONE!

Progression run = DONE! (Wow, that is an extreme closeup of me all sweaty and gross, isn’t it. Sorry guys.)

Do you do Progression Runs? Do you find them difficult or more on the easy side? I’m more of a medium gal. They don’t kill me, but they take a lot of focus.

Now go out and run.

Workout Wednesdays: Hard & Fast

I have said it probably 763,229 times: If you want to run faster, you have to train faster. Apparently, last night was a “train faster” night for me, which is stupid of me. I was running my 3 miles at a 7:40 pace. Ummmm…definitely NOT a recovering-from-surgery pace, stupid. Note to self: next time, shoot for 8:00 minute miles. Oy.

What can I tell you? The music got to me.

Who can resist running fast while listening to “Born to Run”? I ask you, show me this person!

There are so many workouts to do that will test your anaerobic capacity, but my supreme favorite is a good ‘ol track workout. You may be a track newbie, so here’s the skinny.

  1. Tracks are 1/4 mile around or 400 meters, 4 laps = 1 miles (1600 meters)
  2. They run counterclockwise
  3. Fast people on the inside, slow people on the outside
  4. Don’t spit your gum on the track

These rules all apply to the Warning Track at Yankee Stadium. You could do your speed workout here, too, I suppose. I mean, some people get to do that (AWESOME!). I don’t know your life.


That’s all you need to know about tracks to do this workout. Ready? Go!

  • 1 mile warm up
  • 4 x 400 meters @ max pace, 1 minute rest in between
  • 2 x 800 meters @ max pace, 1 minute rest in between
  • 1 mile (4 laps): 200 meter (1/2 lap) sprint, 200 meter (1/2 lap) slow jog
  • 1/2 – 1 mile cool down, slow jog

The Great Lawn is actually my favorite place to do speed work. In the light, though. I trip a lot when I try to run fast (or at all) in the dark.


Should be a fast workout that doesn’t take all day. Be specific about your recovery times so that your body doesn’t cool down to much in between sets. This is all about pushing your body to it’s limits, which will teach it to become more efficient during longer, slower runs. What are you waiting for? Find a track or measure out 400 meters in your neighborhood. HIT IT!

Just a pretty picture of the Reservoir. Not that I would EVER try to do speed work there. So. Many. People.

Now go out and run.