There’s a professional track a five minute drive, or 3.5 kilometer run from where I live. We’re talking a track that was installed just over a year ago, with all the markings, and cushiony, soft, impact friendly turf. It’s clean, pristine, and there’s hardly ever any one there.
And up until these last few weeks, I hardly ever went there either.
I would think about it. And I would think about how it is such a shame on my part that there is a track that nice, that close and I am not even taking advantage of it. “One day, you’ll wish you had that closer, and yet you have it now and you aren’t even using it.”
I think for many people, myself included, there’s something a little intimidating about tracks and track work. It’s where you are supposed to be fast. It’s where you are supposed to run hard, run harder and then do that on repeat several times.
And it’s where you are a little more vulnerable and exposed: what if there are other people at the track, or what if there are people walking by who see you on the track, or in my case, what if there are 10-12 blokes right next door developing a property and building a house?
Rest assured: if this is where you are with your thoughts on doing track workouts, you aren’t alone. Because, up until a few weeks ago, I was the same.
But now I’m all over this whole track thing. It’s a great workout, that takes a short amount of time because of it’s high intensity. It leaves you a sweaty mess, and you remember later in the day that you did it (or you start to feel it), and you’re like, “go me!”
And if you want that to be you, here’s where to start:
What is track training?
A form of speedwork, track training involves completing repetitions of specific track distances, such as 100 meter, 400 meter etc. These repetitions can be for time, or un-timed, of varying distances, escalating or de-escalating distances or anything in between. The idea is to push yourself hard, work on your speed and focus on using muscles to their maximal capacity so they can be built up and are there for you when you get tired during a race or need a last hard push to get you over the finish line.
Who should do track training?
Everyone! Whether you are a beginner runner, a long time runner, trying to get faster, or just need a change up, the track is a great place to make it happen. Of course it is great for working on speed, but since it is interval training, it’s a high intensity workout in a short period of time, meaning it’s great for trying to lose weight or just when you are short on time. Furthermore, it works your fast twitch muscle fibers, which are often less strong in distance runners, but are the ones that allow us to sprint to a finish line, or put in that final kick in a race.
And if you are the kind of person who thrives on pushing yourself to your edge, feeling sore, and thinking about a workout later with a little smile because it was so hard and you did it anyways, the track is the place for you.
What are some track workouts I can do?
Once you start track training and become more comfortable and familiar with it, you’ll see that there are endless combinations of workouts and you can target them to meet your needs in terms of the amount of time you have, or the weakness you are trying to work on. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Repetitions x distance – 12 x 100 m, 6 x 400 m, 6 x 200 m etc. Choose a distance and choose your repetitions, increasing one or the other each session. You can also do a combination, such as 2 x 100m, 2 x 200 m, 2 x 400 m
- Repetitions for time – choose a distance and number of repetitions, like above, but this time, time each run and try to beat your time for each repeat
- Repetitions in time – set your stopwatch for 2 minutes, and run as many 100 m sprints as you can; alter the time and distance as you like, and try to beat your number each session
- Escalating/de-escalating/pyramid – 1oo m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m and then repeat; or 8oo m, 400 m, 200 m, 100 m and repeat; or do it as a pyramid, climbing from 100 m to 800 m and then back down
These are just a few examples to get you started. You will start to get good at making up your own, challenging yourself and seeking out the high of the achievement as you finish a challenging track session. And if you want a real challenge, combine your track work with your other distance running, or do back to back hills and track . . .
Want some more suggestions or help getting started? Sign up for run coaching and get a plan catered to meet your needs and goals, or simply get a huge list of track workouts!