Track Workouts 101

Just got back in from shoveling 10 or more inches of snow…and am exhausted. I usually write 2 posts a day but this morning was hectic.

Right now I can’t even imagine running outside (too snowy, too icy, too cold), but it’s never too early to start thinking about track workouts!

trackworkouts

If you’re training for any sort of spring race, track workouts can help you increase your speed, strength and stamina. You can easily do these on the roads or treadmills too, but I do feel more hardcore doing them on a track ;)

Basics

If you’ve never run on the track before, here are some basics:

  • People usually run counter-clockwise. I’d say it’s okay to run clockwise but only in the outermost lanes. If you will be doing lots of laps, switch directions every few laps if there aren’t that many people.
  • If there are faster people, run in the 2nd or 3rd lane. If you’re one of those faster people, just yell out “On your left” as you run up behind people so they will move out of your way.
  • I’m sure everyone knows this, but each curve and each straightaway is 100 meters. A whole lap is 400 meters. 4 laps around the track is a mile.

Workouts

If you’ve never done a track workout, there’s no need to make it complicated. The great thing about the track is that it is a measured distance, so you know exactly how far you have gone. Always start with a good warm-up. I usually jog for half a mile to a mile before starting, and cool-down with half a mile to a mile.

Here’s a good workout to start with-one that I have had my dad do when he occasionally runs with us:

  • Run 100 meters (the straightaway) at a brisk pace (not necessarily a sprint, but faster than a run…should be comfortably hard).
  • Jog/walk 100 meters (curve).
  • Repeat for however long you want to run.

Or another variation of that:

  • Run 200 meters (straightaway + curve) at a brisk pace.
  • Jog/walk 100 meters
  • Repeat for however long you want to run.

Once you feel comfortable here are a few workouts you can try out, depending on your goals. Shorter distances at faster speeds will be better for 5k training, and longer distances will be better for half or full marathon training.

The Simple Workout

  • Run 400 meters (1 lap) at 5K effort.
  • Rest for however long it took you to run 1 lap. Active rest though-walk or jog.
  • Repeat 5-10 times depending on your abilities. Start with 5 and work your way up to 10.

Little Bit Longer Now

  • Run 600 meters (1.5 laps) at 5K effort.
  • Rest for however long it took you to run 1.5 laps.
  • Repeat 3-6 times depending on your abilities.

Ladder

  • Run 100 meters FAST (but not all out sprint-we want to preserve form here).
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Run 200 meters fast.
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • Run 400 meters at 5K effort.
  • Rest 3-4 minutes
  • Work your way back down

Work On That Stamina

  • Run 800 meters at 10K effort, or at a comfortable hard pace. You should be able to finish the 800 meters, and have enough in the tank to repeat it. Definitely not going all out here.
  • Rest 3-4 minutes
  • Repeat 2-3 times.

Takin’ It Back To Gym Class

  • Go to the track. Warm up with an easy mile or half mile.
  • Run 1 mile as fast as you can.
  • Cool-down. Note your time, try this next month and see if you improved.

I love track workouts and can’t wait to get back to it once it gets warmer out.

If you can’t make it to the track now, you can easily do these on the treadmill too. Just make sure not to choose a pace that is too fast for you, because that can lead to overstriding and injuries.

Which of these do you want to try?

Do you have a favorite running workout? Track? Tempo run? Fartleks?

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Comments

  1. I love tempos and Fartleks, but I think my favorite will always be track workouts. I usually do a 2 mile warm-up, and then 1×1600, 4×800′s, 4×400′s, and finally 1 mile warm-down! :) Great post!

  2. I do not think I am where I can do these running workouts … but I am getting there :)

  3. Jim Hartman says:

    Patty, thank you for these track tips. I am planning on doing a lot of track work before I start my official training for the marathon so these will definitely come in handy. Now I am looking forward to the track !

    Thanks !

Trackbacks

  1. […] out my post on track workout ideas if you want to start doing more interval […]

  2. […] goal is to work on speed from now until June 13th before starting marathon training. I love doing track workouts and feeling fast, but also know once marathon training starts I won’t do them as […]

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