Over the last month, I’ve decided to get back to track workouts. With the absence of races in California, I’ve been craving faster things, and I am someone that struggles to go “push themselves all out” for a virtual race. So I recently found a track that seems to be open most Saturdays.
You don’t have to be training for a track race to get the benefits of track workouts. Anyone from the person training to nothing, 5k, a marathon can get faster with track workouts. Right now, I’ve been in one of the longest plateaus of my running “career.” It’s definitely a few things, including an injury and not doing a lot of speed.
So last month I decided to go back to the track. Track workouts don’t come easy to me, and pushing myself hard is…well, hard.
So Why Add Track Workouts?
Adding track workouts give you’re running a sense of purpose. The track is designed for running fast. Every type of run has its own purpose, from easy runs to track runs and tempos and workouts.
To run your fastest, you want all of your muscles to help support you. You wouldn’t ask a doctor to do a surgery that he’s never practiced, and you don’t want to run a race at a pace you’ve never practiced.
What the Benefits of Track Workouts?
- New Stimulus: In order to improve in running, you must include a variety of workouts, including but not limited to easy runs, tempo runs, hills, and track workouts (of course, not at all once).
- Leg Turnover: As distance runners, we can forget about turnover and leg speed. At the end of the day, a race is a race, and if you want to have a strong turnover (like Sara Hall does), then you’ll have to work those muscles.
- Run in a Controlled Training Environment: Most outdoor tracks are flat and 400 meters. You know 1 lap is exactly 400 meters.
- Learn to Pace Better: Since you know the distance of the track, you can work on better pacing.
- Tracks are Rubber: Tracks are a fast surface to run on because the rubber gives you a responsive stride, but it’s also soft, so it’s more forgiving than concrete.
What Are Some Easy To Do Track Workouts?
Easy to do doesn’t actually mean “easy” because anything on the track will challenge you. Easy to do, meaning uncomplicated. As someone who wasn’t a track athlete, tracks can be intimating.
Workout 1: The Straightaways:
If you’re new to track workouts, this is a simple and helpful workout. “All” you do is push the straight sections (also known as the straightaways) of the track. Then jog the turns. Depending on what you are training for, is how many you want to do. If you’ve never been to the track, starting with 4 laps is a great place to start. You can easily add 1 lap each week.
Workout 2: 8X400 meter repeats:
My favorite thing to do on the track is 400s. It makes me feel strong and ready for shorter races like the 5k. The goal of 400s is to have the same effort among all of them and learn good pacing. You don’t want to go out “too hard,” only to find yourself 10-15 seconds slower on the following 400s.
A basic rule for track repeats is that interval recovery should be between 50%-100% and repeat itself. So if you run a 400-meter repeat in 190 seconds, you want to recovery somewhere between 45-90 seconds per repeat. Keep in mind this is a basic rule and can be adjusted at any time.
Workout 3: Yasso 800s:
As someone who went to Bart Yasso’s house in 2015, I feel obligated to include these. LOL.
Yasso’s 800s were created by Bart Yasso himself and can help predict your marathon time. What are they? How do you do them?
First, start with a goal marathon time in hours and minutes. For instance, 3 hours and 30 minutes. Then change it to minutes and seconds, so 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Next, you’ll take to the track. Your ultimate goal is to do 10X800s at 3 minutes and 30-second pace with the same amount of rest, so 3:30 rest. You don’t need to start with 10 but the build-up to it. If and when you can hold your specific pace, Yasso 800s will predict your goal marathon time.
What’s my favorite track workout?
I like to keep it simple. I must admit my favorite track workouts are 400s. They are simple, easy, and straight to the point. I can easily reflect and see progression or even regression. Track workouts keep you honest with your training.
One last thing to note: your GPS watch is not always accurate on a track workout or race. The track does not lie and doesn’t do 412 meters on a track because your GPS watch says it is 400 meters.
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