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Tuesday Track Workouts

Now that my running mojo has returned, I’m taking full advantage of it!

Last night’s run was unbelievable, considering I haven’t done many evening workouts in recent months. Kevin and I ventured out about 7:45 for 4, hilly miles at near race pace and incorporating negative splits. He did a great job keeping up with me the first two miles and keeping me within eyesight during the second two. I will teach that man to pace one day.

Anyway, as the title of this post states, today is my Tuesday track workout. If you’re a distance runner (or even just looking to improve your 5K time) and not incorporating speed training track workouts, you’re falling well short of your potential.

For you track beginners, I suggest finding a local group that offers varying weekly workouts. Track workouts are brutal on your body and mind, so having other people’s energy to feed off of makes all the difference. If you’re local to Charlotte like me, TrySports in SouthPark (Sharon Road at Colony) offers track workouts every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. Each week features a different coach and different focus. You’ll stretch, run a 1-mile warm-up from the store to Alexander Graham Middle School, participate in that week’s speed session and run the mile cool-down back. You’ll be amazed at how good you feel on that 1-mile return run.

Track workouts can vary in intensity and type. Some are based off of time and others distance. For those who are complete newbies, one lap around a traditional track is 400m (1/4 a mile), two is 800m, three is 1200 and four 1 mile. Obviously, if you’re looking to work on 200m sprints, you’ll be running half the track or sprinting on the straightaways and recovering (jogging or walking) on the curves.

I discovered a great article on Active.com through  Runner’s World contributor Erin Strout on the basics for a track workout. Check out the full article here.

3 REASONS TO LOVE THE OVAL

1) PROPER PACING
On a treadmill, the belt keeps you on pace, even if your energy fades. “You’re just keeping up with what’s moving underneath you,” says Marius Maianu, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas. By contrast, hitting a certain pace on the track requires more mental effort. 

2) POSITIVE PEER PRESSURE
At a group workout, you’re likely to push harder than you might on your own. You’re also less likely to give up when the going gets tough. Other runners at the workout can spot sloppy form that might be slowing you down. 

3) THE FUN FACTOR 
strong>Track may be about speed, but at most workouts organized by running clubs, the vibe stays social and supportive. The track is a great place to meet new running buddies—the kind who help you get out the door in epic conditions, or tough out a long run. 

BEFORE YOU GO: POINTERS FOR FIRST-TIMERS

KELLIE STAMM, 47, hit her goal of a 19-minute 5-K after adding track sessions to her training. Now she leads weekly workouts for her local club, the Sayville Running Company team, in New York. Here are her tips for newbies. 

1) PLAN AHEAD
If possible, determine beforehand what the workout will be so you can get mentally prepared for what pace you’ll run, who you’ll run with, how much recovery you’ll take, and how long the workout will be. 

2) WARM UP
Trying to run fast without a warmup is a recipe for a pulled muscle or for tiring out early. Be sure to jog at an easy pace for 15 to 20 minutes before the track workout. At the end of the warmup, add some strides to help boost your heart rate and ready your muscles for some quick work. 

3) EASE INTO IT
Start conservatively so you can hold back early and finish strong. As the session goes on and you start to fatigue, it should feel harder to maintain your goal pace. But if you have trouble finishing a fast segment, it’s best to back off your pace instead of adding extra recovery time.

I find myself in need of different workouts each week to really give myself the best chance for improvement. I prefer distance workouts (10x200s, 4×1000, etc.) to timed workouts, but I’ve found some of my biggest improvement to come from tempo track workouts (Determine your 5K, 1-mile Race Pace, subtract :10 seconds and run that for 3 minutes, recover for :60 seconds, repeat 6-7 times).

Remember, ALWAYS stretch, warm up, and cool down. Some of the highest chances for injury occur during speed workouts.

What’s your favorite speed workout on the track?

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