Wave Tempo

You know that quote about if you do the same thing you’ve always done, you’ll get the same thing you’ve always gotten?  Or the idea that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?  I really do agree with them – most of the time.  But not all the time.  Sometimes doing the same thing over and over again is the definition of practice, persistence and discipline.  Repetition can help us get better at some things, and as a result over time we will see and feel change from that dedication and fortitude.

I guess it just depends on how you look at it and what you’re feeling and experiencing … sometimes it’s obvious something isn’t working and other times determining whether you stay the course or need to make a change in what you’re doing can be tricky.

When I am seeking growth and change in a certain area of my life, I try to step back and take a look at my habits and practices – whether it’s a habit in the way I’m thinking or something I am doing (in running, in my relationships and just in life in general) and I open myself up to ways I can learn and do things differently.  I like to hear from others – friends and loved ones, people I admire and respect, good books and blogs, etc – about their experiences and perspectives and ideas.  To be open to learning from them and to being inspired by them.

As far as it relates to my running and training, this cycle I made some changes to my methods in order to grow stronger (I talked about that in this post a few weeks ago) and decided to do some things differently to hopefully set myself up for success in Boston.  One of the things I am doing is a tempo or a hill run every Monday morning.

The weather this winter has been a BEAR and I have found myself indoors on a treadmill on Monday mornings more often than not, which for me has meant more tempos than hill workouts (though I think if this keeps up I am going to have to up the incline on that treadmill and get a hill workout on that thing here soon!).  Doing a tempo every Monday morning was sort of starting to get old and I was feeling a sense of dread over it, so every now and then I would substitute it for some mile repeats or a few sets of 2-mile repeats just to keep myself from getting bored and to tax a different system.

This morning I woke up to yet another snowy/icy morning, threw my Kinvaras into my bag and schlepped myself to the gym.

Hellooooo Monday.  Helloooo treadmill!

Today I was excited to try a workout I’ve been curious about for a while – a “wave tempo” – something that  Coach Mark Hadley created.  My friends/training buddies Maddie and Adam had both tried it before and told me it was awesome.  Hard, but awesome.  I really respect and admire Coach Hadley and his methods and am inspired by many of the runners he coaches (Katie, Kris and Jenny to name a few) – every time I visit his blog and web site, or check out his Twitter feed I find a nugget of information or inspiration that motivates me or sparks my interest.

You can read Hadley’s detailed post about the workout HERE (it is a fantastic post!).  For my marathon training purposes, I decided to work my aerobic threshold.  Hadley says he has “found aerobic threshold wave tempos to be an extraordinary workout in preparing for a marathon, in particular because of the mental toughness and ability to stay in the moment it teaches.”  My experience led me to completely agree with him!

I warmed up for two miles nice and easy, and then did an 8 mile wave tempo – alternating one slower mile (4-5% slower than my aerobic threshold or AT) with one faster mile (4-5% faster than my AT), and then cooled down for 2 miles.  It looked like this:

Warm up: 7:47, 7:35
Wave tempo: 7:03, 6:22, 7:03, 6:22, 7:03, 6:22, 7:03, 6:22
Cool down: 7:03, 7:19

I was amazed at how the slower segments felt like recovery to me, even though mentally they were FAST.  This workout helped me trust in my ability to hold pace, to get comfortable with the mental discomfort that happens there (self doubt, fear).  The hardest thing about this workout was getting out of my head and just letting it all flow and happen.  It probably took me the first two “waves” to get there, but once I was there I was in a groove and I just dialed in, focused, trusted myself and knocked it out.  My cool down was laughable to me – the last mile at 7:19 felt like I was floating and putting forth very little effort.  It was a pretty magical confidence booster and just what I needed on a snowy cold Monday morning!  I will definitely be revisiting this workout again.

I honestly had no idea how deeply these changes in my approach would take root in me – and how far beyond running they would affect me – by being more focused in my running, trying new things and trusting in myself to take chances, I am learning to be a more purposeful, courageous and patient person in other areas of my life.

Can you relate to this?  What are some new things you have been trying – whether running workouts, cross training or otherwise?  Have you ever done a wave tempo before?  Do you feel as deep a connection between your running/training and how you approach your life?  I would love for this blog to be a place we can all learn from each other so please don’t hesitate to comment and share here 🙂

Happy Monday to all!

5 thoughts on “Wave Tempo

  1. Hi
    I'm trying really hard to implement new things into my running – different warm ups/cool downs, focusing on strengthening areas that I feel are a bit weak, taking the time to stretch more, ect. But – I run alone, don't have a coach, and don't have access to running friends, or a club, or even a treadmill when the roads are unsafe. I believe that it's important for me to change things up – that it's my responsibility. But – I'd love some guidance from a coach. I think I'm going to look into Coach Mark Hadley. I can't afford much (stay-at-home mom to young girls). I need a PLAN. Something that tells me I should be doing this and that. I know things must be changed up overtime in order for us to truly improve. Do you think I should purchase a plan from Coach Hadley?

  2. Gosh I didn't mean to sound so blunt in that question! I just meant to say do you think he'd be a good coach to help me improve all around as a runner? Age, time, finances, are factor in this decision for me.

  3. Those are some speedy miles! I'm intrigued by the idea of a wave tempo – I've bookmarked Coach Hadley's post on it to check out later – thanks for sharing, and great job 🙂

  4. I remember Kris talking about a similar workout awhile back. It reminds me of the monster track workout known as “Michigan” (mile tempo, mile at 3k race pace, mile tempo, 1200, mile tempo, 800, mile tempo, 400 all out). Changing paces is really tough.

  5. i'm feeling this way now!! i'm doing the same workouts over and over again and worry that they don't have enough “purpose” to get me where I want. I feel like I'm getting in a rut and need to try a few new workouts. BUT, i also said the spring was for base building-so technically, I guess that is what I am doing. Easy miles till JUNE and NYC training!!!

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