Running Track: Getting Started + 9 Tips To Run Faster
There are many reasons you might find yourself heading to the track for a workout even after your high school or college days.
- What are the benefits of track work?
- Does speed work make you faster?
- Are there certain types of workouts to incorporate to see race improvements?
Running track miles will make you a stronger runner if intentionally implemented track workouts.
5 benefits of running track
Although some people do speed workouts on the road or elsewhere, there are clear benefits to track running.
- Track Surface: If the outdoor track or indoor track is a rubberized surface track, the cushioning will be easier on your legs than running on an asphalt or cement road.
- Flat: Tracks are flat and fast, which is another advantage. While doing some speed work on hilly terrain can make you stronger, most runners prefer the track because it is level.
- Measurement: Whether you are hammering out 400s, 800s, mile repeats, or any other distance, the track is always the same size. You do not have to measure anything out. You can just hit the track and get to work.
- Consistency: When trying to get a particular pace, you can use the track for consistency. For example, if you are gunning for a 6:00 minute mile, you should be finishing each 400 in :90 seconds. You can just glance down and know if you are hitting your mark.
- Fewer Distractions: When road runs, you have to be aware of everything. There is no traffic, no traffic lights, and few distractions on the track. This enables you to tune everything out and focus on the task at hand.
6 track terms you must know
If you are heading to a track meet, that will entail different terms. For example, it would be helpful for you to know what the hammer throw is and what it means to anchor a race.
What we are going to discuss here are terms important to your workout.
When you peek at track workouts, you may find that you are to run a set distance with a certain amount of time allocated for recovery. Recovery is another term for rest. Another way to dictate recovery, rather than a set amount of time, is to have the athlete return to resting heart rate.
Although you might be tempted to rush off before your recovery is over, don’t. Giving your body time to prepare for the next effort is essential.
Repeats are when you do the same distance over and over. You might see 400 repeats on the docket. If the workout reads 8×400, on 2:00 rest. What you will do (after you warm up properly) is run 400 meters, then rest 2:00 minutes. Repeat, repeat, etc.
Anytime you are running at full running speed effort, that is called a sprint race. Sprinting is not for the faint of heart. Sprinters run at top speed, make hard efforts, and they are not running very far at a stretch.
In the world of track and field, the 100 and 200 meters dash are both considered sprints. The 400-meter dash is also a quasi sprint because you are running at a very hard effort.
Remember when we discussed using the track to see if you are on pace when running a mile? If you run each 400 at :60, those are called splits.
When working with a running coach, he or she might tell you your 4 quarter-mile splits as they comprise your mile run. That can show you if you are running consistently or if you slow down throughout the race.
Some track workouts have you doing ladders. When running ladders, you start out at a shorter distance and work your way up to longer distances.
The ladder is similar to a pyramid, except in a pyramid, once you peak at a set distance, you work your way back down to the shorter distance.
It is worth noting that some people use the terms ladder and pyramid interchangeably, while others think a ladder only goes one way, while a pyramid goes up and down.
Fartleks are another form of speed work. Swedish for speed play, you are just speeding up and easing up on the speed at random intervals in a fartlek.
Typically a fartlek is done to a coach blowing a whistle, so you don’t know how long you will be running hard.
Our coach’s 9 tips to get faster
If you are hoping to get faster, there are some things you can do.
- Run Faster: Sure, that sounds obvious, but it is true. If you want to get faster, you need to run faster. This means implementing speed workouts regularly.
- Increase Mileage: Most runners will tell you that a secret to speed is running more. We are not implying that you need to run tons of miles to pick up speed; however, ask yourself when you achieved your fastest times throughout your running career. Often, it was during high mileage periods of time.
- Form: Improving your running form can help you to run faster. Consider getting some coaching if you need tips on that.
- Switch It Up: Implementing regular speed work into your regimen will help you get faster, which can be in the form of fartleks, intervals, or formal track work. In addition to that, you need some slower miles.
- Hill Work: Many runners neglect to add hill work into their training. Hills make you stronger.
- Core: A strong core is crucial. Overall, strength training is important, but core work gets its own category. That is how big it is.
- Strength Train: Weightlift at least a couple of days each week.
- Cross Train: All of your workouts don’t have to be running. You can bike, swim, use the elliptical, hike, or do something else for cross days.
- Rest and Recover: While training hard is important, so is honoring the rest and recovery days.
4 easy track workouts
Many runners feel ill equip to hit the track.
Looking for some easy track workouts?
Here are some to get you started 9and don’t forget warm-ups and cool downs!)
- 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 (as a beginner, your rest should be the same amount of time it took you to make the effort)
- 200, 400, 800, 1600, 800, 400, 200
Another easy workout involves just moving around the track. You do a run interval followed by walking the same distance for recovery.
- 100/100, 200/200, 300/300, 400/400, 300/300, 200/200, 100/100.
Have a friend head to the track to you. After you warm-up, ask them to randomly blow the whistle to have you speed up and slow down.
Fartlek speed bursts should be anywhere from :15 – :60 seconds for beginners.
Be sure your friend knows to give you adequate “easy” efforts. Since you are running the entire time, it will be quite a workout.
Just head out there!
For runners looking to make improvements in their times and fitness straightaway, hitting up the track is a great way to do it. It might seem intimidating at first, but don’t let yourself get freaked out.
Just head out there and hit the track.
You will be glad you did!
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