Since Tuesday’s funk, I have been hell-bent on having good days. I did decently yesterday, starting out with my first tempo run outside. Yes, that’s right, I’ve only done tempo runs on the treadmill thus far. For whatever reason, a morning when it was already 79 degrees with a “real feel” of 86 and 84% humidity seemed like the right time to test the waters.

I am a genius.

Taking a cue from this girl, I’ll tell you that this is what was supposed to happen: 

6 mile tempo run: 1 mile warm up, 4 miles at 7:41 pace, 1 mile cool down

Aaaaand here’s what really happened:

1 mile warm up

Tempo mile 1: 7:41

Finding your pace is actually kind of tough. Especially when you’re running in the city and there’s a crosswalk that you may or may not have to stop at about every 12 steps. I honestly have no idea how I hit the mark right out of the gate.

Tempo mile 2: 7:51

Although I was running on a flat surface, this mile seemed considerably harder. I stopped at the end of it to catch my breath. I’m thinking maybe the humidity was working against me a bit here? Not sure, but whatever it was, stopping seemed to help because . . .

Tempo mile 3: 7:34

Whaaaaa??? Yeah. I have no idea what song was playing on my iPod, but it must’ve lit a fire under me because I was cookin’!

Tempo mile 4: 9:15

Ah, yes. This is where the bottom dropped out. Running uphill. Lungs burning. Legs screaming. Even with the positive self-talk I attempted, it was still a serious train wreck. I believe I stopped and walked at one point, which I never do, so that should give you some indication of the disaster that was this mile. However . . .

“Cool down?” mile: 8:15

I tried to recover a bit on this one and bust out a respectable pace given the extreme failure of that 4th tempo mile. By the end, though, I was D.O.N.E.

So, while my first tempo run of marathon training wasn’t a huge success, I’d say I did alright for my first tempo run outside and in the city. Oh, and that whole humidity thing. Yeah, that was a factor. 6 miles at 8:07 pace overall in those conditions? I’ll take it. Although, it may be back to the treadmill next week. I’m not convinced speedwork and tempo runs outside are for me, especially in the city.

Do you do tempo runs outside? Any tips for me? (Aside from not being stupid enough to try one when it’s hotter than the surface of the sun?)


18 thoughts on “Hell-Bent

  1. Tempo runs outside are super tough, since you have to deal with weather, people in your way and stop lights. I usually do my tempo runs on the Mall, or I do laps around the Washington Monument. Also, the Mall has water fountains, which is awesome on days with 84% humidity! (and it’s flat!)

  2. hhrunner says:

    Bahaha oh I miss the days where I lament what was supposed to happen and what actually did. Soon enough.

    I do most of my speed work on the TM for that very reason. And I still think you did a rockin’ job. So have a rock ‘n roll day! 😉

    • I know! Love the fountains on the mall!!! I ran down there, but it’s about 2 miles from my place, so it’s a little tricky with the distance. I think I might stick to the treadmill for the time being.


  3. Nora says:

    I live in DC around the U street area and I’m training for a marathon as well, this summer heat/humidity is insane! I hope you’ve found all the good running routes out to the monuments and rock creek park, those are great because there are paths and no need to stop at lights, etc. Good luck!

    • I’ve done the monuments, but not Rock Creek Park. What’s the best way to get down there? Do you run down or drive?


      • Nora says:

        I run (don’t own a car) there are two ways I take, each takes about a mile to get out of the traffic areas, but it’s the warm up/cool down mile so I don’t really care. Either I go up through adams morgan on 18th to calvert and then drop on to beach drive. Or I drop in around Q street, from there you can go one direction to the monuments or the other direct to rock creek. Rock creek is great on the weekends because it’s closed to traffic (great for the long run). There’s also a nice path out to National airport, you’ll start finding them when you’ve got to do your 20 milers, that’s how I did! 🙂

  4. I was having this exact same convo w/my bf last night. I told him once marathon training started that I’d need to run my tempos inside because it’s too hot/humid to hit the paces I need to be running at. (100 degrees? No thanks) He thinks it’s doable – I think he’s ca-RAZY. So I’m with ya, tempo-ing on the ‘mill 🙂

  5. I’ve been trying to do speed work outside as well but the humidity is absolutely kicking my ass! I start off like you do, fairly quick for the first 3-4 miles and then reality sets in and I’m lucky to make the total distance. They say running in the heat will make us stronger in the fall. Guess it’s a great time to test the theory! Good luck with Marathon training!

    • Exactly! I can handle the easy/long runs outside, but I think speed is going to have to be on the treadmill for a bit.


  6. Megan @ Fiterature says:

    It’s so tough in this humidity, as Jim said. WATER is the key. If you are doing a tempo run on Wednesday, start sucking down that water as early as Monday. It matters, I swear. Do what you can and if you aren’t getting the results you want – head inside!! 🙂 You’ll be great!

  7. Doyle Ranser says:

    If I were you, coming off of injuries from running too fast during your training runs, and assuming you are serious about a good marathon, I’d be building up to 50+ miles/week, consistently, slow and comfortable miles, leave the watch at home, before even thinking about running fast, especially if the conditions are bad enough that you are considering treadmill runs in the summer.

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