About the Name

Tempo and Speed

originally posted January 31, 2009
The name of my blog is a reference to two types of running workouts. I promise not to have all my postings about running, but indulge me once more with this one. As background, a tempo run is done at a "comfortably hard" pace and is designed to train your body to run faster for a longer time before fatiguing thus building your endurance. A speed workout includes intervals, running even faster than that comfortably hard pace for shorter periods. The purpose here is to get used to running faster - increasing your speed and strength. As a runner, I have only recently begun delving into these workouts. Up to now, I have run as fast and long as I felt like it for any given run. Feeling good? Let's run a bit longer. Feeling really good? Let's run faster. Not a recipe for improvement or achieving goals but a fancy free approach and frankly, more fun.

I like the sound of these words together - tempo and speed. At first blush, they mean the same thing. But dissect them and you will find the nuances. I won't all do the dissecting for you; add your own interpretation. For me, they are an interesting metaphor between my life and my running. My tempo days are spent doing all my regular and varied responsibilities: making meals, packing lunches, laundering, paying bills, volunteering, running, making phone calls (necessary and other), chauffeuring, shopping (necessary and other), mediating (the kids), negotiating (the kids), maintaining calendars (mine, the kids' and sometimes hubby's) and much more. These days are busy, full and fast-paced, and even sometimes hard. But they have become routine and I find I can continue to pack more into a tempo day than I would have thought in the past. My endurance is building with every tempo day.

A speed day is thrown in every now and then. It shows up sometimes unexpectedly when a child gets sick or an unscheduled business trip is announced. Sometimes speed days are planned and occur in preparation for a rest day (a.k.a. family vacation). In either case, the tempo routine is thrown off and my pace is ratcheted up past my comfortably hard level. I must maintain my regular load and then some. But I know these speed days come at intervals and I do get a break, back to my comfort zone after what usually ends up as a relatively short time. With each speed day, I get better at managing these fast-paced times of irregularity. My speed and strength improve with each speed day.

I fantasize sometimes about approaching my life as I used to approach my running: doing whatever based on how I feel - the fancy free approach. Days of complete personal choice, whimsy, no accountability and pure fun. As a wife, mother and frankly an adult, those days are gone but I clearly remember them. College, I think it was. But going down that laissez-faire lane gets you nowhere and gets you nothing that you don't already have. No improvement. No gains. Fun maybe but strangely I find my fun in different, better ways these days. Laughing with my family, doing science experiments with the boys, watching G-rated movies repeatedly, and yes, running faster than is comfortable.

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