Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

What's a Tempo Run?

I've modified this little blurb from an email to a friend who asked me what a tempo run is. Some of you who don't run might still find it interesting. People don't often realize how much thought goes into training for running. I'm hardly a running expert, but I am happy to tell you what little I've learned from my experience, and perhaps will do so periodically over the coming weeks, months, or years. As always, I'll try to put a spiritual spin on the whole thing.

When you run distance, there are two dimensions to your race - distance and speed. Your ability to go a distance is developed by those weekly long, steady distance (LSD) runs 8, 10, 20 miles at something below your race pace. Distance needs endurance, and that's what these runs build. Your ability to go fast (but sub-sprinting) is determined by your cardiovascular capacity. Speed workouts are what really push that - intervals on a track, etc. But in a long cross-country or road RACE, you need to go fast not just for a few hundred meters at a time, nor just to finish, but ideally to finish in a short time period, right? So tempo runs train the body and mind to sustain faster speeds over longer distances.

So a tempo run is faster than your target race pace, but NOT a dead sprint. It should be sustainable over the distance you are going to run (so it will be a slower pace for longer distances). And you should do it for farther than you would likely run an interval workout. So if your intended race pace for the marathon is 9:11 min/mile (4 hours for 26.2 miles), you will want to aim your tempo runs, once or twice weekly, for a pace at like 8:30 min/mi, and for a distance of say 3-5 miles. You might do 15 min warm-up at a pleasant pace, followed by 30 min at 8:30 or 8:45 (something that will work you hard, but that you can sustain for the time/distance), followed by 15 min cool down at a pace where you can catch your breath and relax a bit. And just like any workout, you gradually build toward goals.

In the spiritual life, we sometimes have periods of pleasantness and ease. When things get hard, lots of folks bail and go back to their old way of life. Sometimes we have sharp, painful periods, like the death of a loved one, that pass quickly and leave us to recoup over months or years. Other times, we have somewhat less intense but more prolonged trials, like the care of a sick spouse, or long periods of dryness in prayer. Trials that aren't as intense, but are much, much longer. It is best to train in the spiritual life not only to be able to go the distance, or with grace to be able to sustain hardship, but to be able to sustain hardship over a distance too.

I'm not sure how to do that. Your ideas (as comments, especially) will be greatly appreciated. Maybe this retreat I'm on (this email is pre-prepared and delay-published) will help me figure this whole thing called Christian life out. Lolol. Let's keep praying for each other, dear reader.

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