To run fast, you must train to run fast. I do enjoy a good trivial statement.
I started this article to pontificate on all the reasons why running a once-weekly, structured workout on a track is so very useful to runners of all levels. I got going and stalled time after time. The truth is – and as much as I like talking about physiology, sport psychology, and workout design – it makes for dry blog fodder. Instead, I reached out the X3 Team and asked them to send me their favourite things about running track, as they all do.
Here are the highlights.
It’s basically group therapy!
It makes me run faster than I would by myself
Track is just a breath of fresh air (literally) after a long winter. Its nice to be outside enjoying the sunshine, all the while working on sustaining high speeds for longer periods of time.
I enjoy the variety or intervals. Breaks up a session and encourages me to focus on little goals. I also “feel” faster on the track and my mindset is different for some reason. Almost like things are starting to get serious. I enjoy going the same time as speed walkers, it feels good passing people.
Love the chance to run as fast as I can. Very liberating
I love the structure of track workouts. They are very much like swim workouts that are repeatable, and you can analyze the data and progression. I also find these hurt a lot more which I tend to enjoy 🙂
Track night is the one night you let me unleash. Without it I’d run all my longer stuff too fast.
I like the structure and the focus that come with set/rest/set. The chance to push my pace and measure progress in a way that is more tangible than with endurance work. There is a certain rhythm that you get on a track as well. Where even though you are using technology, you can feel your pace as you move around the track.
People to “chase”, and noticeable gains, and a very focused plan for each workout, AND speeeeed!
I love these reasons. They’re perfect reminders of why I do what I do. Still, if you came here for some evidence-based reasons. Here are six in point form.
- Develop your energy systems: both aerobic and anaerobic. Yes, you use both even if you only run long.
- Improve speed endurance / tolerance. As you approach your anaerobic threshold / LT2 / VT2, running for extended durations starts to feel hard! The best way to train both your body and your mind to tolerate this intensity is to do more of it. The track is a good place for that.
- Train mental resilience. The ‘keep going’ brain muscle needs work if you’re to stick to your pace when it gets truly hard at the end of a race. Track practice is where you hone this skill.
- Train with precision. A track is a largely controlled environment. Each lap is the same distance, there is no vehicular traffic or lights, and no elevation change either. This level of control is very useful in executing successive bouts of hard work.
- Get coach time. Since a track is physically a relatively small space, you get a lot more time with your coach. Want to work on gait? Want to know how hard to push the next interval? What about your ideal recovery interval? We can talk about that.
- Enjoy the group effect. Sports scientists have studied the effect of training in a group vs training solo. The findings are consistent. Training in a group allows individuals to work harder than they would otherwise do – as echoed by some of the comments above. If you work harder, you reap greater training rewards. How good is that?
Want to learn more or experience it for yourself? Join us at Riverdale Park every Thursday evening at 6:30. First workout is May 3rd.