Track workouts are very structured and measurable speed sessions that provide a strong training stimulus...but this doesn't mean that they can't be fun! Track can actually offer you much more than a great venue for your
Tracks typically provide the benefits of a good consistent running surface, no traffic, no buttons to push and of course most notably, an accurately measured distance. Track workouts allow you to practice just the right pace/intensity as prescribed in your training plan without too many variables to consider from workout to workout. And since your performance on tracks is so measureable, this can be a motivator for future workouts.
For example, your training log shows that you completed 8 x 400 m repeats in 1:20 per lap with 1:30 minute recovery in between each. The next time you hit the track you can up the ante and shoot to run 9 repeats or perhaps run a few of them a few seconds faster than the time before. This is a great way to challenge yourself and make your
fun and motivating.
Tracks also offer a great opportunity to simply practice running your event goal pace for a defined period of time without the obstacles of traffic, lights and varying terrain. These are known as 'pacing runs' and are described further on the
Another awesome benefit of hitting the track for your run is the ability to have your re-fuelly station readily available in one place. Particularly if you're out for a long run, you're never more than 400 meters away from dry duds a towel and your fuel of choice!
I've heard many comments over the years from runners who feel that running on the track, particularly for anything other than
, is way too boring like running on the treadmill. However, it's this very fact that makes track workouts the perfect mental preparation for some of those long and lonely mid marathon miles. You are forced to entertain yourself and learn how to be patient when there is not much to stimulate you. Plus, compared to a treadmill, you are at least outside getting fresh air and occasionally the views do change as other folks join you are games are taking place in the middle of the field.
One thing to be careful of when you do run at the track, is to avoid racing your training. Many runners with their natural born competitive spirit might be tempted to constantly challenge previous split times. Worse, if other runners show up at the track, let your ego get in the way of your prescribed workout for the day (you know who you are). While these can be great ways to push yourself some days, don't fall prey to these overtraining mistakes if you are supposed to be running a recover day.
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