Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mixing it up - Track Workouts


Today's Workout: Static hold legs, examples seen here.

One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is that there is a track only a half mile away. A fenced-in one at that. This is only important for days I want to bring Tubby as well. I don't mind running with a leash in hand but the stop and go and sudden jerks make it hard to get into a rhythm. At the track, I am able to shut the gate behind me, let him off leash and start doing laps at my own speed. He will sometimes run by my side, sometimes find a stick to work on, and sometimes there are other dogs roaming that he plays with. I feel like this is my 20-something version of those gyms that have daycare for parents to bring their kids to so they can get their workout in guilt-free.

On a recent excursion, Tubby found a pole-vaulting worthy stick to occupy himself. Apparently he is so over distance running. Typical boy.

This has been my new go-to way to get some miles in now that school has started because between work, class and studying - my free time is very limited, and sometimes non-existent. Coming home late with the idea of wanting to quickly change and head out for a run is usually met with extreme excitement that I have finally returned by my four-legged friend. As I start to get dressed I can see the pouting eyes form out of concern as to why I am leaving again so soon. Bringing him with allows me to not only feel like I can take my time, but he gets good and tired too, which is essential as I need him to be wiped out as I pull late nights on the computer.

Now, I know a lot of people think running laps around a track would be boring with a capital "B" - but I have a few good ways to make it interesting.


I talked about incorporating farlteks into your routine here, and a track is a great place to do this.

Lap by Lap

Alternate a lap of slow running with a lap of high-effort. These high-effort laps are a great time to hold your intended race pace/faster so your body becomes accustomed to running that speed. To make sure you are not putting more stress on one leg, switch directions after each pair of easy/hard laps.

Ipod Fartleks

Back in high school, once in awhile our coach would let one of us play DJ with the stadium speakers for this workout. Always a fun change of pace from hearing yourself and your running partners' deep breathing. You alternate your normal pace with high-effort pace as the song change. If you are really nifty and make your play list so the fast-pace songs accompany fast-pace laps, that's always nice. I usually let my ipod go on random and see where the workout takes me. Sometimes the uncertainty helps break up the monotony that running can bring.


The typical format for interval workout discussion looks something like A x B. "A" being the number of intervals you are going to do and "B" being the distance. "B" can also just be a determined length of time (usually seconds because the effort is high). For example 6 X 200 would be running 200 meters hard, recovering/resting, and repeating for a total of 6 times. Intervals are one of my favorite ways to prepare for goal race time. I usually practice with an interval pace that is faster than my intended race pace so as to train my body to think my intended race pace isn't as difficult. I will start with shorter intervals with fewer repetitions and then slowly add distance and repetitions as my body becomes more accustomed to the pace.

Example progression throughout training:

**all workouts should have approximately 10 min warm up and cool down**

6 x 200 meters

8 X 200 meters

4 x 400 meters

6 x 400 meters

8 x 400 meters

4 x 800 meters

6 x 800 meters

2 x 1600 meters

If the time comes that you are able to run a mile faster than your ideal race pace, rest, and do it again, you actual goal race pace will feel so much less daunting. It is through interval training that you can actually make yourself faster.

To know how many you should do is a matter of preference and ability. I usually base my number or intervals and the distance on what sort of race I am training for.

For a 5k, I want the distance of the actual intervals to eventually equal my race distance. So for a 5k (3.1 miles), you should be able to do 6-800's with rest/recovery in between at/faster than race pace before your race. (Or 3-1 mile intervals, 12-400's, 24-200's etc...) These end goal number of intervals seem daunting at first, but if you gradually build up to them they are much easier to tackle.

For a 10k or longer, I consider my warm-up and cool-down miles in my total distance count for the day. The mileage for the day you do your interval training should be equal to a mid-distance day (not your weekly long run). Obviously depending on the runner, your mid-distance run for a half-marathon may be 6 miles or it may be 9. For a marathon your mid-distance is probably between 8-10, etc.  Whatever your mid-distance run is to be for that week in training (it will be lower earlier in your training plan), subtract your warm-up and cool down miles and whatever is left over (say 4 miles) is what you want to break down into intervals. I would advise doing longer intervals as doing 4 miles of 200 meter repeats can be overwhelming. 8 - 800's as you near your race is much easier to manage mentally - at least for me.

As my half-marathon training is getting into gear, my interval training is right around the corner. Looks like more of this will be in my future...

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