Initially I never felt the importance of track workouts, may be because I was never a sports guy in my school years. When I started running, I used to run long distance, working on my stamina. Even today, I can run farther, than most of my school mates, who were super athletes back then.
Image via Wikipedia
Advantages of track workout-
1) It pushes you towards speed runs, as you try to time your laps, and mile splits.
- Always try to be consistent with your lap timings, ensuring that the last lap you run is either faster or at the same speed as the first one.
- Straight tracks are the best to gain speed, one can always slow down at the curves, one reason also being that at the curves if you try to speed, you may loose balance, strain your IT band, and the ankles.
- To catch the runner ahead of you, never try to take longer strides, instead shorter and quicker strides are effective. This has worked for me.
2) It increases your leg strength.
3) It gives you a confidence that you can consistently beat a sub 8 min/mile pace :).
4) Helps your core muscles to strengthen.
A good track workout depends on your level of running, and the race you are training for.
I am training for a half-marathon with a group of people, with varied running levels. Yesterday’s track-workout was-
1) 1 mile warm-up, with running the stairs up-down.
2) 2*400m – 4*400m – 6*400m – 4*400m – 2*400m
3) 1 mile cool down.
4) lunges / planks / side-planks / stretches
5) and I did an extra 7 miles of biking, to commute to the track ground.
I have seen improvements in my running, with consistent track workouts. However, if you do not have the luxury of tracks, near your place, you may also do 1 mile split runs, with 400m cool downs on any trail. Distance being difficult to track, a sprint for 1 min and cool down for 30 secs, repeating this for a distance of 4-5 miles can also be a good speed workout.