How to Run Track Workouts

Track workouts are extremely beneficial to runners. These types of workouts are generally performed on a 400 meter track in separate intervals that combine fast running with slow recovery jogging. Track workouts teach a runner’s body how to run fast and the condition the mind to concentrate during strenuous running. These workouts are essential in developing the kind of leg turnover needed to race well.

What are Track Workouts?

Track workouts are planned training sessions on a track where a runner alternates fast and slow running. Track workouts include sessions like “8 X 200 meters with 2 minutes rest.” This translates into doing 8 repeats of 200 meters (half of a 400 meter lap) with 2 minutes of rest in between each interval. Another example is “12 X 400 meters with equal rest.” In this track workout, a runner runs 12 400 meter (full lap) repeats with a rest period that is equal to the time of the interval. So if you ran a 400 meter interval in 1:30, you would rest for 1:30. which is 12 repeats of 400 meters (a full lap). For your reference, here is a list of how many laps there are in standard metric track distances:

100 meters 1/4 of a lap (a straightaway)
200 meters 1/2 of a lap (a curve and a straightaway)
300 meters 3/4 of a lap (a straightaway, curve, and straightaway),
400 meters A full lap
800 meters Two laps
1600 meters Four laps (Just about a mile)
3200 meters 8 laps (Just about two miles)

Common Types Of Track Workouts:

Here are some bread and butter interval running workouts that are good for runners training for a race. Keep in mind that your mileage for an interval workout should not greatly exceed your race distance.

14-16 X 200 meters
8-12 X 400 meters
6-8 X 800 meters
4-6 X 1000 meters
3-4 X 1 mile repeats

It is a good idea to mix up the interval distances during workouts to focus both on speed and endurance. This type of workout is called a “ladder.” A simple ladder workout for a 5k race would be: 400, 800, 1000, 1600, 600, 400, 200. The mileage for this workout is exactly 5000 meters, and it includes intervals that will work on a runner’s raw speed (200 and 400′s) and endurance (800 and above).

Resting During Track Workouts

The common wisdom is to rest two times as long as it takes to run the repeat. So if run a 400 in 70 seconds, rest 2 minutes 20 seconds. One of the best ways to increase the difficultly of a workout is to shorten the rest period. Keep in mind that “rest” does not mean you should stop moving! At least walk around. For a real challenge, try to jog in between each repeat. Track workouts are more productive if you can make an interval workout a continuous run. This will make the workout much more difficult, but it will simulate what it feels like to run a race.

How Fast To Run Track Workouts

This really varies with age and talent. Generally, 1 mile intervals should average 10k race pace, 800 meter intervals should average 5k race pace, 400 meter intervals should be between 5k and mile race pace and 300 meter and 200 meter intervals should be run faster than mile race pace. Note that track workouts should only be attempted after developing a fairly large base of fitness. You should run at least a month of quality base training (at least 20 miles a week) before attempting any track workouts.

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