Let’s Hit the Track!

So tonight was an exciting milestone in my running career – my first track workout.

I added speed work to my routine for the first time probably 6-8 months ago.  I was finally convinced that this was the best way to get faster but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it at first.  Because my running group’s track workout generally conflicts with a class I take at my gym on Tuesday nights, I decided to move my speed work to another night and get it in on the treadmill.  This marked a change in my attitude towards treadmills.  Previously, I had blamed the treadmill for causing shin splints early in my running and swore off them completely for the last 2 years or so.  As I cautiously started to do some treadmill interval training workouts that I found online, I started to gain more confidence about using the treadmill as a training tool.  I actually sort of like my 1 day a week max on the treadmill.  The intervals make the time pass quickly, I can knock out 5-6 miles with relative ease, and I get to watch some trash TV like the Real Housewives while I do it.  Win-Win-Win.  Here’s a look at my typical Treadmill interval routine:

*This workout totals approximately 5 miles.  If you want to extend it to ~6 miles (56 minutes) to build up your weekly mileage, I have found it easiest to a 5 minutes to each of two of the indicated sections.

From the Treadmill to the Track

My dad really encouraged me recently to try to rely a little less on the treadmill to get in my speed work so I have been tempted for a while to try to get to a track.  It seems like there is a shortage of accessible open tracks in the area so I’ve been a bit deterred up to this point.  Due to a weird schedule this week (including a business trip on Thursday/Friday) and a race coming up this weekend, tonight seemed like the perfect night to blow off the class at my gym and sneak in an extra run.  I was much too tired from this long weekend of staying up and sleeping in to get up and do anything this morning so I knew the evening was it.

I arrived at the track with about 10 minutes to spare before our 6 pm start.  I cannot believe how dark it is now from about 5:45 on!  It was crazy and the mosquito bites started almost immediately (unfortunately).  After about a 2 lap warm up, we started into 8 x 400 w/ 200 RI.  In layman’s terms, this means 1 lap around the track at a really fast pace with half a lap of rest/walking in between repeated a total of 8 times.

I think I did a great job for my first track work out.  I stuck with a few of the men who were running my same pace and I was able to pretty much sustain a solid pace/effort for the whole workout…which felt really hard but a good kind of hard.  As you can see from my laps below, I got about 1 second slower with each fast interval but I stayed pretty even for my first time.  (By the way…I love you new white Nike+ watch – hopefully your instant pace is better than the last one):

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Laps 1, 2, & 3 – these got a bit messed up but this was my warm up and first fast interval.  Unfortunately, I forgot that tapping the face both activates the backlight and starts a new lap.  I also forgot to start a new lap when the interval started anyway.  Just a mess.
  • Laps 4-16 – alternating fast and rest intervals.  Times mostly increased: 1:31, 1:33, 1:34, 1:36, 1:37, 1:38, 1:37
  • Lap 17 – cool down

I am definitely excited to add this new tool to my running arsenal.  It is still going to be a challenge for me to get in track workouts on any regular basis until I resolve these scheduling challenges but it’s great to know how one feels.  I think this could be really key on my path to gaining speed.

What is your favorite speed work routine?  Treadmill vs. Track?  Solo vs. Group?

2 thoughts on “Let’s Hit the Track!

    • whyhellodolly says:

      Thanks for the comment! The track (especially with the lovely folks from my running group) definitely made the treadmill seem like a drag! I’m going to make a definite effort to get to the track instead whenever I can.

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