5 Simple and Effective Track Workouts

Hey everyone, let's run in circles! Says no one ever. Regardless of how dizzying (and often boring) the track can be, short and simple track workouts can be an incredibly valuable tool for building speed and endurance. Whether you’re running for better health or trying to snag that illusive Boston Qualifier, the track will help you reach your full potential. (If you don't have access to a track, map out a quarter mile course in your neighborhood or around your block!)

track workout

first, let's talk about optimizing a track workout:

1. use a stopwatch (not that big gps thang)

There are lines on the track for a reason. Simplify the run with a stopwatch and use 3rd grade math skills to determine your paces. Example: for a 8 minute per mile pace, every lap should be 2 minutes. (Simply divide the mile pace by 4.)

Dear Concerned Strava Junkie, enter the data in manually later, but if you can't resist, don’t look at the GPS functions during the workout. (We’re Strava nerds too. We get it!)

2. Always run counter-clock wise around the track

Unless you like head on collisions, avoid going the opposite direction.

3.  warm up and cool down before/after every workout

Pulled hamstrings are no fun. Avoid injury by lightly jogging for at least 10 minutes pre-workout. Here are some warm-up drills we suggest. Likewise, once you have crushed the track workout, lightly jog 10 minutes afterward in order to flush the lactic acid out of your muscles.

Ok, now you're ready!

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1. Mile Repeats aka "The Classic"

The Workout: 3-6 x 1 mile (4 laps) with 2-3 minutes rest between.

Benefits: Mile repeats are great for dialing in your race pace and working on the upper-end aerobic system.

How: Perform anywhere from 3 to 8 mile repeats with 2-3 minutes rest between each mile. Pick your goal race pace and try to hold that pace throughout the workout. For example: if your half marathon goal pace is 7 minutes per mile, run each mile repetition in 7 minutes (each lap 1:45). Be conservative for the first few miles to remain strong through the entire workout.

2. Inverted Pyramid, aka "The Joey"

The Workout: Run 4 minutes hard then 1 minute easy, 3 min hard and 1 min easy, 2 min hard, 1 min easy, 1 min hard, 1 min easy. Then reverse it: 1 min hard, 1 min easy, 2 min hard, 1 min easy, 3 min hard, 1 min easy, 4 min hard, 1 min easy.

Benefits: This track workout is great for touching on different paces for different time periods, tapping into a few different nervous and muscular systems. 

How: Perform the workout while continuously running (on a track, road, or treadmill). After each hard interval, jog easily for 1 minute before continuing on to the next hard interval. Be sure to control your pace on the first 4 minute segment in order to hold strong through the second half of the workout.

3. 400/200, aka "The Floater"

The Workout: 10-16 x 400m with 200m float (easy jog)

The Benefits: You will work on faster-than-race-pace paces. The workout also teaches your body to buffer lactic acid more efficiently.

How: Run a 400m (1 lap) at roughly mile pace or slightly slower. Jog 200m (1/2 lap) then repeat 10-16 times. Try to keep the 400 paces consistently strong as well as holding an easy, relaxed pace for the 200m float.

4. Mile Break Down, aka "Mental Breakdowns!"

The Workout: 1 mile, 1200m, 800m, 600m, 400m with 1.5 - 2 min rest between.

Benefits: You will learn how to progress your speed through out a race.

How: Perform the workout progressively getting faster each rep. Start with  the mile at goal half marathon pace then work down so that the last 400m rep is done at roughly your 1 mile race pace. Don't start out too hard, but leave it all on the track on the last 400 meters rep.

5. Tempo Workout, aka “The Grinder”

The Workout: 20-40 minutes at tempo pace. Yes, continuous. No stops.

The Benefits: Find your sweet spot pace. This workout helps increase your aerobic capacity and delays the onset of the anaerobic system, i.e. allows you to run faster for longer. You will also learn how to keep a consistent pace.

How: Run at your tempo pace (see below) for 3-6 miles without stopping. Use your watch with lines and markers on the track to keep your pace consistent.

What is your tempo pace? Take your race pace and add 10-20 seconds. So a 7:00 minute 10k pace would be a 7:10-7:20 tempo pace.

Happy Training! 

Track workouts are always more fun with friends! Join us for our group track workouts every Monday night at 6:30. All levels and paces are welcome! We meet up at the shop, and jog over to GPS track. 

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