African woman running on racetrack

— By Michael Liberzon

As a coach, I just about insist that my athletes run one track workout weekly. The benefits of the oval – at least from a coach’s perspective – are clear.

Workout quality

No lights. No traffic. No hills. Each spin around the loop is exactly the same as the last. This means that holding a specific pace during interval one is just as physically demanding as during number eight – with the obvious exceptional case of form breakdown due to fatigue. This is valuable as it ensures that pace is a true metric for metabolic cost. This inherent quality of controlling – to a large degree – the environmental conditions mean that track workouts are typically of higher quality than similar efforts on traditional roads.

Repeatability

That limited ability to control conditions – especially at indoor tracks – means that efforts from one week can be more legitimately compared to efforts from the next. This is key if you’re tracking progression – which is a very good idea!

Inclement weather training

Nothing mucks up your well-crafted speedwork session more than freezing rain. Heading to an indoor track is the perfect solution when the weather turns Canadian Winter.

Track essentials

There isn’t much special kit that you need at a track other than some means to keep on top of pace. That can be as simple as a stopwatch and knowing the exact lap length. A GPS-enabled watch will work well in outdoor venues regardless of track distance, while a footpod is very useful indoors.

One more note on indoor tracks. They are super dry on cold winter days, so pack an extra bottle of water!

Sample track workout

This relatively simple session will allow you to mix up the paces and work on staying in control with the foot fully on the gas. The pace variety is great for beginners learning to differentiate the feeling of running fast and running VERY fast. Here goes:

  • Warm up

20:00 easy jogging followed by activations and run drills

  • Main set

3 time through:
– 2x 400m @ your best mile pace, 2:00 walking recovery after each 400
– 1x 1600m @ your best 10k pace, 3:00 walking recovery

  • Active recovery

10:00 easy jogging
Stretch

Happy track training!

Michael is an NCCP trained triathlon coach, certified personal trainer, and kettlebell instructor. His degree in mechanical engineering supports his evidence-based approach to coaching.

Michael is also the owner and head coach of the X3 Training Lab in Toronto. 

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