Eight Mile Tempo to Ride into the Marathon

First week of taper is almost over. I’m still smiling and haven’t gone crazy yet. I think a huge part of it is that I was still running every day and still had a few workouts to get in. So I haven’t had to run easy for consecutive days yet. Ask me again next week how I am feeling. And in case you are counting…we are down to 9 days. =)

Have you ever had a workout that when it was finished, you wanted to scream and just jump up and down with excitement? That kind of run that gives you a runner’s high that can last hours – or days? I have often found that the tougher the workout, the higher the runner’s high.

I had one of these runs on Tuesday. It was an eight mile tempo. Yup. EIGHT miles. At my half marathon PR pace (7:00). This sounds easy on paper but after a 71 mile week, no taper and no food/gel, it’s a different story. Almost an hour of hard, fast (for me) running.

I was terrified from the day I got the week’s plan from my coach. My first thought was that there was no way I could sustain that pace for 8 miles. I thought back to my first tempo workout of this training cycle. 5 miles at 7:10->7:05. And I barely survived. I think I was almost dry heaving by the end. Then I recalled the two-6 mile tempos I did 5 and 6 weeks ago – at just under a 7 min pace. One was tough, the other was a good day. But the idea of doing two more miles on tired legs seemed daunting to me.

My plan was to stick as close to 7 as I could for the duration. If I went out too fast, there’s no way I would survive. I was doing this workout a bit later than usual + daylight savings = I was able to run on a flat 3/4 mi (poorly lite) stretch that I haven’t been able to run on in weeks. All of my recent tempo runs and speed workouts have been on a different road by my house that includes 2 small hills in each direction.

I did a mile warmup then immediately started the first mile (no stopping after the 8:16 warmup miles). My legs didn’t seem to be turning over easily and I felt like I was working hard for the 7:00 pace I was seeing. I told myself to just get through that first mile. Things would get easier before they got harder.

Mile 1: 6:59

After that mile, I found my groove and stayed there. My pace almost never budged from 6:57 for the next few miles. I was dialed in to that pace. I barely glanced at my watch and just focused on form and breathing. The pace felt easy and I knew I was still running cautious. Being at mile 3 or 4 of an 8 mile tempo is not the time to run stupid.

Miles 2-4: 6:57, 6:57, 6:57

The next few miles still felt strangely easy. My breathing was getting a bit heavier but my legs stayed with the pace. I was working, but it was sustainable. And not too uncomfortable yet. The excitement of what I was doing was not hurting the situation either.

Miles 5-6: 6:55, 6:57

With two miles left, I knew I would finish. But I wanted to finish strong. As with any tough run, this is when visualization comes into play for me. I pictured myself at mile 24.2 of the marathon next weekend. I imagined the crowds, my husband cheering, the excitement.

Mile 7: 6:56

One mile left. I still felt good. I was still running under control. I wanted to see what I can do. So I picked up the pace. Brought it down to 6:48 by the 1/2 mile point and then just let myself run. Not completely all out but pretty close. My garmin beeped.  I literally screamed “YEEES” and fist pumped the air a few times. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole way home.

Mile 8:6:40

8 miles: 6:55 average. Negative split. Smart running. Strong running. Happy heart. This was the exclamation point I wanted to bring this training cycle to an end. It felt like the culminating run of all of my workouts, all the tough tempos, speed days, fast finishes. Everything came together perfectly on Tuesday.  It was great to know that I can run smart…that I can make a pacing plan and actually stick to it (something I am NOT the best at during races).


I will be doing a few posts next week (one on goal and tracking info for philly) but will mostly be laying low until the race. I have begun to focus on little things now – getting more sleep (~8 hours last night!), drinking a steady amount of water, eating as healthy as I can. I am not going to do anything silly that could sabotage my big goals for this race.


Have you had a workout where you wanted to scream with excitement when it was over?

What’s the longest tempo run you have done? 


I don’t post here every day, but I post all of my workouts (and other happenings) on Instagram on a daily basis {NYCRunningMama}.

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    17 thoughts on “Eight Mile Tempo to Ride into the Marathon

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    2. Awesome job!!! I’ll be at or near the start/finish at the Art Museum next week!!! Can’t wait to meet you all…I’ve never seen a marathon in person, so excited!!!

    3. I just had TWO of those kinds of workouts in the last few weeks. I wrote about my epic long run, and was just about to write up a quick one about my interval workout from last night which did make me beam from the inside out! It was all the more enjoyable because I came home to a happy baby who I had all to myself for the evening (as my husband was working)!
      Crystal@TheFastFitRunner recently posted..Weekly Running Update, featuring: An Epic Long Run!My Profile