Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Running in Circles the track that is.

Every week I like to get in a track workout. If I hadn't joined a training group for my first marathon I doubt I would have ever run at the track. Now I think anyone that doesn't include track workouts in their training plan needs the rethink their training plan.

I love running at the track once a week since it's a controlled hard effort, flat, more structured than fartleks and the treadmill sucks. It was intimidating at first but, as long as you go with the flow no one will care that you're there. Just make sure you do your fast laps in Lane 1 and your recovery lap in lanes 3-4. Whatever you do, do not block lane 2 by running side by side unless you're the fastest people at the track. Quoting the track coach, "you own lane 1 on your fast laps." People passing you should use lane 2. Hence the don't block lane two...moving from lane 1 to 3 to pass is a long way and very annoying.

Why should you do your fast laps in lane 1? Easy, Lane 1 is the only lane that is 400 meters. If you're doing mile repeats in Lane 2 or 3, you'll be running more than a mile. 5 mile repeats could mean an extra 0.15 to 0.6 miles if you're not in lane 1.

What makes the track more interesting is figuring out how fast you should run your repeats. One can easily enter a known time from a race into the McMillian Running Calculator. I've been wondering about my paces recently.

Here are my finishing times entered into the Running Calculator.

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler                                    

St. Jude Half

Turkey Day 3 Miler

It's fun (and frustrating) looking at your projected paces. According to McMillian, the 10 miler was my fastest race and I was slacking off during the 3 miler and Half Marathon. Granted I didn't actually train for the half marathon. I can pretty much run a half at will but, it was a month after the MCM so I was in good shape for it. Actually, I didn't train for the 10 miler either although I'm sure cycling helped my time since that's a couple months after I started cycling. It would be interesting to see if I can actually break 2:05 in a half mary. Maybe I'll actually train for the St. Jude Half this year. Breaking 2:00 would be even better. Who knows will all this half iron training I might be setting my self up to do it. Running a half when you're used to swimming and biking before it has to be cake. 

Anyway, I still follow my old running groups track workouts since they're all online. This is what I've been doing at the track. 

Week 1: 12-14 x 400M @ CI pace.  100M slow jog recovery. 

Week 2: 6-8 x 800M @ CI pace.  400M jog recovery

2x 20-minute run @ TR pace.

Descending Ladders
Regular/Marathon:  1600M -- 1200M -- 800M -- 400M.  All @ TI pace.  Break.  Repeat 1200M -- 800M -- 400M

Tonight it might be:
3-4 x 1600@ CI pace 400m jog recovery. 

TR = Tempo Run (Approx half-marathon)
TI = Tempo Interval (Approx 10M)
CI = Cruise Interval (Approx 10K)
I = Interval (Approx 5K)

...I'll also never understand why some groups stop for several minutes between repeats?


  1. I need a more structured training schedule and adding track workouts have been something I need to do. I have always been worried about getting in the way of high school workouts and having the track not available during track season. My alternative is the dreadmill, but like yourself, I am not a big fan.

    Did you have a noticeable improvement after adding track workouts?

  2. I'd say so, I knocked 3 minutes off my 10k time. Although it's difficult to say if this was directly related to track considering my first 10k was the longest distance I had run at that point. It can't hurt.