— By Jessica Adam
Running hard track workouts can be grueling and tough, but they can also be very rewarding. They are key to improving your speed for your races and in my opinion, best if done with others to motivate and push you to your limits. Here are five reasons to include track workouts in your program.
Focus on form. The track is flat and makes a great running surface, so a runner can concentrate on their form without being interrupted with changes in terrain. Focus can be on leg turnover and a proper stride for the entire workout. This should improve efficiency and in turn help you to get faster.
Group dynamics. It is always good to have others around you to motivate and push you. You may work a little harder than you thought you could, or do another repeat or two to keep up with the pack. It’s great to see yourself catching someone who you used to be slower than. These benchmarks that running on a track with others can create will really help you push your training to the upper limits.
No cheating. A measured track doesn’t lie. You will be able to set realistic goals for yourself when it comes to timing your next event. By running longer time trials on a track you will be able to make a fairly accurate judgment as to whether you can hold that pace during a race.
Pacing. By running on a flat, measured surface a runner can really work on pacing for the length of their next event. You can teach yourself what your pace should feel like to start a race as so many athletes start too quickly. For example, if you want to run a sub 40 minute 10km, your 400m repeat needs to be under 1 minute and 37 seconds. It may surprise you what one lap feels like but try it for another 25!
Less injuries. Running on a proper track is easier on your legs than pavement. The softer surface will reduce the effect of the impact on your legs, especially for interval work. It’s good to change direction on the track periodically so your muscles work equally on both sides of your body.
If you want to be a faster, stronger, and more efficient runner, include track workouts in your training program. For most people, one solid track workout a week is sufficient. They are a great way to switch up your training, get out there with others, and get faster all at the same time.
LifeSport triathlon coach Jessica Adam has been a coach in Victoria, Vancouver and now resides in the Toronto area. She loves to share her years of experience with beginner triathletes and also experienced triathletes that are trying new distances like the half or full distance for the first time. She coaches athletes online all across the country.