Your Perfect Tempo

This “comfortably hard” run is the key to racing your best, at any distance. Here’s how to add tempo runs to your weekly mix.

Published

May 23, 2007

Robin Roberts runs like a Kenyan. Okay, she doesn’t run as fast as a Kenyan, but the 47-year-old New York City advertising executive–who trains far from Nairobi–has achieved personal records by using the same workout that has helped propel the likes of Paul Tergat and Lornah Kiplagat to greatness. The secret? A tempo run, that faster-paced workout also known as a lactate-threshold, LT, or threshold run.

Roberts–who’d dabbled in faster-paced short efforts–learned to do a proper tempo run only when she began working with a coach, Toby Tanser. In 1995, when Tanser was an elite young track runner from Sweden, he trained with the Kenyan’s “A” team for seven months. They ran classic tempos–a slow 15-minute warmup, followed by at least 20 minutes at a challenging but manageable pace, then a 15-minute cooldown–as often as twice a week. “The foundation of Kenyan running is based almost exclusively on tempo training,” says Tanser. “It changed my view on training.”

Today, Tanser and many running experts believe that tempo runs are the single most important workout you can do to improve your speed for any race distance. “There’s no beating the long run for pure endurance,” says Tanser. “But tempo running is crucial to racing success because it trains your body to sustain speed over distance.” So crucial, in fact, that it trumps track sessions in the longer distances. “Tempo training is more important than speedwork for the half and full marathon,” says Loveland, Colorado, coach Gale Bernhardt, author of Training Plans for Multisport Athletes. “Everyone who does tempo runs diligently improves.” You also have to be diligent, as Roberts discovered, about doing them correctly.

 

Why the Tempo Works…

Tempo running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. “Most runners have trained their cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to the muscles,” says exercise scientist Bill Pierce, chair of the health and exercise science department at Furman University in South Carolina, “but they haven’t trained their bodies to use that oxygen once it arrives. Tempo runs do just that by teaching the body to use oxygen for metabolism more efficiently.”

How? By increasing your lactate threshold (LT), or the point at which the body fatigues at a certain pace. During tempo runs, lactate and hydrogen ions–by-products of metabolism–are released into the muscles, says 2:46 marathoner Carwyn Sharp, Ph.D., an exercise scientist who works with NASA. The ions make the muscles acidic, eventually leading to fatigue. The better trained you become, the higher you push your “threshold,” meaning your muscles become better at using these byproducts. The result is less-acidic muscles (that is, muscles that haven’t reached their new “threshold”), so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster.

 

…If Done Properly

But to garner this training effect, you’ve got to put in enough time at the right intensity–which is where Roberts went wrong. Her tempo runs, like those of many runners, were too short and too slow. “You need to get the hydrogen ions in the muscles for a sufficient length of time for the muscles to become adept at using them,” says Sharp. Typically, 20 minutes is sufficient, or two to three miles if your goal is general fitness or a 5-K. Runners tackling longer distances should do longer tempo runs during their peak training weeks: four to six miles for the 10-K, six to eight for the half-marathon, and eight to 10 for 26.2.

Because Roberts was focusing on the half-marathon, Tanser built up her tempo runs to eight miles (plus warmup and cooldown) at an eight-minute-per-mile pace. “The pace was uncomfortable,” she says. “But after a while I realized, ‘Oh, I can maintain this for a long time.'”

That’s exactly how tempo pace should feel. “It’s what I call ‘comfortably hard,'” says Pierce. “You know you’re working, but you’re not racing. At the same time, you’d be happy if you could slow down.”

You’ll be even happier if you make tempo running a part of your weekly training regimen, and get results that make you feel like a Kenyan–if not quite as fast.

 

UP TEMPO

A classic tempo or lactate-threshold run is a sustained, comfortably hard effort for two to four miles. The workouts below are geared toward experience levels and race goals.

GOAL: Get Started Coach Gale Bernhardt uses this four-week progression for tempo-newbies. Do a 10- to 15-minute warmup and cooldown.

Week 1: 5 x 3 minutes at tempo pace, 60-second easy jog in between each one (if you have to walk during the recovery, you’re going too hard).Week 2: 5 x 4 minutes at tempo pace, 60-second easy jog recovery Week 3: 4 x 5 minutes at tempo pace, 90-second easy jog recovery Week 4: 20 minutes steady tempo pace

GOAL: 5-K to 10-K Run three easy miles, followed by two repeats of two miles at 10-K pace or one mile at 5-K pace. Recover with one mile easy between repeats. Do a two-mile easy cooldown for a total of eight or 10 miles.

GOAL: Half to Full Marathon Do this challenging long run once or twice during your training. After a warmup, run three (half-marathoners) or six (marathoners) miles at the easier end of your tempo pace range (see “The Right Rhythm,” below). Jog for five minutes, then do another three or six miles. “Maintaining that comfortably hard pace for so many miles will whip you into shape for long distances,” says coach Toby Tanser.

The Right Rhythm

To ensure you’re doing tempo workouts at the right pace, use one of these four methods to gauge your intensity.

 

Recent Race: Add 30 to 40 seconds to your current 5-K pace or 15 to 20 seconds to your 10-K pace

Heart Rate: 85 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate

Perceived Exertion: An 8 on a 1-to-10 scale (a comfortable effort would be a 5; racing would be close to a 10)

Talk Test: A question like “Pace okay?” should be possible, but conversation won’t be.

 

Ancestral Diets – A Lighter Shade of Paleo

Ancestral Diets
A Lighter Shade of Paleo

by SAYER JI AND TANIA MELKONIAN

 

Vegetarian Awareness Month provides a timely opportunity to realize that a plant-focused diet does not derive exclusively from plants. Just as a carnivore does not subsist on meat alone, the same applies to a vegetarian.

What can we learn from our Paleolithic, or Stone Age, ancestors? The recent trend toward recreating a Paleo-era diet emphasizes the importance of vegetable nutrition to prehistoric communities, correcting the misperception that they were primarily meat-eaters.

The original Paleo diet, before the advent of agriculture, reflected the hunting and gathering of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and was absent of grains, dairy, starchy foods, sugar and salt. Today’s updated version might comprise foods naturally available and/or abundant before the cultivation of food in gardens, crops and livestock.

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., author of The Paleo Diet and Nutritionist Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal Body, Primal Mind, each contest the premise perpetuated by many in the weight-loss industry that fat, especially naturally saturated fat, is unhealthy. Those same proponents that maintain low-fat/non-fat food is a panacea for modern illnesses also purport that cholesterol is the chief cause of heart ailments.

Gedgaudas writes that the diets of hunter-gatherers inhabiting varied landscapes, from the Inuit of the north to tropical forest hominids, included large amounts of fat and cholesterol, which is essential to maintaining cell membranes and regulating hormones. She points out that obtaining cholesterol from food is necessary to augment the liver’s function of creating cholesterol internally.

Cordain agrees that even saturated fats in meats can be beneficial, providing the animals are grass-fed, lean and live in clean surroundings. He emphasizes, however, that when our prehistoric ancestors ate fat, they did not also eat grain carbohydrates, sugar and salt, and contends that it is these components, not meat, that can be detrimental to the body.

Doctor of Naturopathy Maureen Horne-Paul adds that organic, lean and game meats are exempt from the acidity inherent in corn-based animal feed. Plus, “When an animal is insensitively confined and killed, stress hormones are released that result in acidity. So, we are changing our pH from a healthy alkaline state to a more acidic condition when we consume meat from conventionally raised animals.”

Scientific studies published in the Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, Medical Hypotheses and by the Mercola group attest to key problems related to human consumption of grains. Anti-nutrients such as phytic acid in grains lead to the poor absorption of minerals and related deficiencies. Improper absorption of dietary protein caused in part by enzyme inhibitors in grains also tends to damage the pancreas. Individual sensitivities to proteins in specific grains can further interfere with functioning of the neuroendocrine system and subsequent emotional difficulties like addiction and depression may arise. All of these difficulties have been exacerbated by irresponsible prenatal diets that have made younger generations extra-sensitive to the challenges posed by grains to the human system.

While Cordain doesn’t recommend dairy, Gedgaudas suggests organic or raw milk products, provided they retain their full fat content and come from grass-fed cows. She reasons that the presence of the anti-carcinogenic fatty acid conjugated linolenic acid (CLA) and the Wulzen factor anti-stiffness agent in the fat benefit joint lubrication.

Experts suggest that the dietary formula established by our prehistoric ancestors can be the foundation for a modern-day, healthy, non-confining, creative eating experience. We can exchange grains for quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat (not technically grains at all), and include tubers and legumes, due to their folate and protein content. Blue and sweet potatoes also contain high levels of anthocyanins and potassium. Nearly every category of food, in the proper amounts, can be part of such a balanced diet.

When we explore what makes sense and eat clean and natural foods, we have a good chance of finding our body’s own sweet spot.

Sayer Ji is the founder of GreenMedInfo.com and an advisory board member of the National Health Federation. Tania Melkonian is a certified nutritionist and healthy culinary arts educator. Learn more at GreenMedInfo.com.

 

Himalayan salt can help mineralize and detoxify the body

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 by: Michael Ravensthorpe

Salt is an essential nutrient that our bodies require for transporting nutrients into and out of our cells, regulating blood pressure, exchanging ions and much more. However, not all salts are equal. Table salt, which has been stripped of all its minerals except sodium and chloride, for instance, will not have the same positive biological impact upon our bodies as pure, unrefined salt that boasts a robust mineral profile.

One of the most nutritious and “complete” salts we can purchase today is Himalayan salt, a salt that has been formed over millions of years in the Himalayas and which contains so many macrominerals and trace minerals that it is actually pink in color. In this article, you’ll learn more about the health benefits of Himalayan salt and how it can help transform even the blandest of meals into a powerhouse of nutrition.

Reasons to love Himalayan salt

Rich in minerals – Himalayan salt’s biggest draw, of course, is its dense concentration of minerals. According to a spectral analysis provided by The Meadow, Himalayan salt contains 84 minerals, electrolytes and elements – a staggering number considering that only 118 elements are known to science. For this reason, adding more Himalayan salt to your diet can help rectify virtually any mineral deficiency you might have. Significantly, Himalayan salt contains iodine, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium – the five minerals in which the United States population are most deficient. Widespread iodine deficiencies (largely blamed on ongoing soil erosion) is an especially serious issue, since iodine plays an essential role in the functioning of the metabolism-controlling thyroid gland. If you add more Himalayan salt to your food, however, you won’t need to worry about an iodine deficiency ever again.

Sodium content – Unsurprisingly, one of the minerals in which Himalayan salt is richest is sodium. Though sodium suffers from a bad reputation due to its connection with processed foods, real, unprocessed sodium is needed by our bodies. It helps regulate blood volume and thus blood pressure, but also helps control muscle contractions, heart functions and nerve transmissions. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of sodium is between 1,500-2,300 milligrams for men and women between the ages of 9-50; one teaspoon of Himalayan salt contains approximately 400 milligrams of it.

 

Detoxification – Though it is traditionally eaten with food, Himalayan salt’s impressive mineral profile also lends it well to external detoxification. For example, you can’t find a better salt than Himalayan salt in which to bathe; its minerals and negative ions easily penetrate the skin, producing a cleansing and detoxifying effect that can leave your skin and mind feeling rejuvenated and invigorated for hours thereafter. Likewise, Himalayan salt has a positive effect on our air. It’s not a coincidence that virtually all reputable salt lamps are made using Himalayan salt rather than table salt or sea salt; its negative ions bind themselves to positive ions in the air, neutralizing it and ridding it of pollutants.

Purchasing advice – Himalayan salt can be purchased in health food stores or online, and is usually sold as fine or coarse grains. Fine-grained Himalayan salt is recommend, since the small, unobtrusive crystals are far easier to incorporate into most meals. When purchasing your salt, remember to check that it is pink in color; this indicates that the salt is dense in minerals.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.atthemeadow.com

http://www.smartlivingnetwork.com

http://science.naturalnews.com/salt.html

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/043692_Himalayan_salt_detoxify_mineral_deficiency.html#ixzz2roiL8NTE

 

How To Get Your Best Body & Feel Great Effortlessly

BY NATHALIE CHANTAL DE AHNA
MARCH 17, 2014 5:07 AM EDT
As a nutritionist and mindfulness coach, I work with people from all over the world who struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Many of them are unhappy and unwell, and they don’t know why. What they all have in common is that they’re frustrated and confused by all the different diets out there. They’re suffering from what I call “diet trauma.”

Raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, flexitarian—to name just a few—all these trends are fighting for attention, claiming to solve all your problems while providing long lists of scientific studies (which can prove or disprove anything if you just dig deep enough) to support their cause.

I hear statements like these all the time:

“I’ve been completely gluten-free for months now but I’m still not better.”
“I went raw but it’s damn hard to keep up.”
“All my friends went vegan and every time I buy a steak now I have a guilty conscience.”
While they were once highly motivated to take their health and happiness to the next level, they wound up completely frustrated because they followed a trend which might be a solution but turned out not to be their solution.

Of course, if you are gluten-intolerant you have to go gluten-free.

If you are a vegan with heart and soul, you should never doubt your lifestyle (which is not the diet trend I’m talking about).

But if you “just” want to be better and happier overall, reach a healthy weight, and actually enjoy eating again, here’s what I tell my clients:

1. Stop labeling your diet.

This gives you the freedom to eat whatever your body and mind need without feeling guilty because something wasn’t “vegal” or “paleosher.”

2. Develop your somatic intelligence.

We all have an innate food navigation system which tells us exactly what we—as individuals—need to be genuinely happy & healthy.

Rediscover and develop your somatic intelligence by

Avoiding processed food and eating as naturally and organically as possible.
Having more raw and slightly broken-down food than heavily cooked food.
Eating more plants than animals.
Making your own food instead of buying ready-made.

3. Eat mindfully.

Take your time when you eat. Re-discover what’s on your plate through the eyes of a child. Stop when you are almost full and wait. Your brain will tell you that you’ve had enough after about 20 minutes.

4. Enjoy.

People always think that because I’m a nutritionist my diet is 200% clean. Here’s a “shocking” truth: I had a piece of my Mum’s cheesecake only yesterday and the day before, we made pizza (with gluten!).

And I enjoyed and savored every bite.

I strongly believe that it’s enjoying eating promotes well-being and a healthy weight. That’s why, as long as you are listening to your “somatic antennae” most of the time, it’s perfectly fine to go rogue every now and then.

5. Be grateful.

I’ve got two toddlers who are used to eating fresh veggies and fruit and drinking green smoothies. A while ago my son (he’s five) told me he’d like to have a certain breakfast drink (which is completely processed and full of sugar) every day because some of his friends were allowed to do the same, too.

I didn’t tell my son he couldn’t have that drink.

Instead I asked:

“Do you know why your friends need to stay at home regularly because they don’t feel well, and why you and your sister haven’t been sick in over three years? It’s because of the little warriors in your green smoothies who make sure you stay fit and can play every day.”

 

The next morning he actually thanked the little warriors in his green smoothie for taking such good care of him and never spoke of that breakfast drink again.

6. Visualize every day.

Genuinely simple, real and organic food is not an enemy. (And please don’t let any diet trend tell you otherwise.) It’s something for which to be grateful.

The above tips are essential to finding a lifestyle (NOT a diet) that promotes well-being, joy, and a healthy weight. Those actions, combined with visualizing the “whole & happy” person you long to be, will help you achieve anything.

Naturally.

Effortlessly.

And completely trauma-free!