Track Workouts For Speed: Improve Speed And Stamina

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We all start a fitness journey for personal reasons. When that journey includes running, if you started from zero running base, you probably noticed improvements rather rapidly. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Maybe you started off walking with small spurts of running. Perhaps you followed a well-known transition program like Couch 2 5K.

At any rate, however you started, you also probably found yourself hitting a plateau. Sure, you can plod along at the same pace mile after mile, workout after workout; but what if you want more? That is the million-dollar question, what more do I want for my running?

If the answer to that question is to get faster, consider implementing track workouts for speed.

What Is Speed Work?

Any running that you do faster than your normal pace constitutes speed work. When you’re just starting to add speed to your running regiment, it does not have to be complicated. Consider starting small: within a two-mile run do just four, one-minute pickups. This just means to increase your speed for :60 seconds.

How Does Track Help Build Speed?

Running track workouts for speed helps you to work on your form and to build consistency while running faster. While this may seem dreadfully obvious, keep in mind that when your body fatigues your form is likely to break down. As you push your body to the point of exhaustion, it will keep greater focus to maintain form.

In addition, running faster on the track allows you to hone in on pace. If you’re running faster for a set amount of time on the road, you can’t be sure how far you are traveling, nor can you be assured you are keeping a consistent pace throughout the speed intervals.

If you are doing speed on the track it’s much more clear cut. You can track those efforts (no pun intended) so you are meeting split times to fidelity. If a coach tells you to run 400 repeats within a time window, you can easily determine if you are achieving the objective. Also, you can shift mid repeat.

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The beauty of track is there are lines on the surface at regular intervals. If you’re doing mile repeats you should have a set target pace for each lap. This allows room for calibration while completing the workout.

Speed work also awakens your fast-twitch muscles and will help with fat and calorie burn. Also, you will find your heart rate and cardiovascular system to be challenged by speed work which is essentially interval training.

What Is a Good Track Workout?

The makeup of a good track workout depends on many things. As an athlete you need to reflect on what your fitness level is, what your goals are, and how much time you plan to dedicate to achieving those goals.

If you are a novice runner, most likely you should start small.

1. Straight/Curve Workout

One of the easiest of all track workouts is as simple as hitting it hard on the straightaways and jogging or walking recovery on the curves. This gives you a clear goal for how long to maintain the hard effort, as well as a set distance for recovery.

Remember to properly warm-up prior to any workout, especially speed work.

2. Repeats

Another workout choice is to run repeats. Newer runners should consider starting with 400 repeats and working up to 800 or 1600 repeats. Running multiple mile repeats is a serious workout and could end up with the runner feeling discouraged.

Running mile repeats
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The minimum a runner should warm-up is a half-mile, and some runners need a full mile or two to properly prepare their body for speed. If you’re a novice runner, you may find a shorter warm-up is fine in the beginning. However, once you really start to refine your speed and hit faster time splits, a longer warm-up may be warranted.

If you are training for a longer race, such as a 10K or half marathon, mile repeats may be a great goal for you. Running mile repeats at a consistent pace helps you to build some muscle memory recognition so that you know what that pace feels like.

3. Ladders or Pyramids

When building a ladder or pyramid track workout, envision you are going up one side, peaking at the top, then traveling back down. When creating a pyramid think about the total mileage you hope to complete. If a solid 1600 is the furthest you plan to run, your pyramid might look like this:

  • 800 Warm-up
  • 200 Hard effort (rest 1:00)
  • 400 hard effort (rest 2:00)
  • 800 Hard effort (rest 4:00)
  • 1200 Hard effort (rest 5:00)
  • 800 Hard effort (rest 4:00)
  • 400 Hard effort (rest 2:00)
  • 200 Hard effort (rest 1:00
  • 800 Cooldown

In another type of pyramid, you might walk equal distance to the distance you have just run hard:

  • 800 Warm-up
  • 100 Run (assume all runs are a hard effort) 100 walk
  • 200 Run – 200 walk
  • 300 Run – 300 walk
  • 400 Run – 400 walk – 400 Run
  • 300 walk – 300 Run
  • 200 walk – 200 Run
  • 100 walk – 100 Run
  • 800 cool down

Notice that in the first workout, you are taking absolute rest between hard efforts? As opposed to the second workout where you are resting as long as it takes you to walk the same distance.

How Do You Build Up Your Track Stamina?

If you research track workouts for speed, you will realize quickly that some include absolute rest between efforts. Other track workouts have you jogging easy during the recovery time. Still, others have you walking recovery.

One way to build track stamina is to keep moving during rest intervals.  This keeps your heart pumping and your body engaged. Another way to build stamina is to work yourself harder as the weeks progress.

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As you gain track experience, you will find that you have more to give on future efforts.

Believe it or not, changing up your workouts, focusing on proper fueling, and making sure you get adequate rest are also ways to build your stamina. Your body is a machine that, when taken care of properly, is more likely to respond positively.

On the one hand, you should not be afraid to push yourself. However, you also need to make smart decisions and to ease into any new type of activity.

Just Add Track

If you are hoping to increase your speed, adding track workouts for speed to your regiment is simply a good decision. As you plan out your workout week a mix of speed and hills with easy running will get you headed in the right way.

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