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Training & advice

Track work

Many road runners take to the track in order to carry out their speed work. As long as the rules of the track are obeyed and track etiquette is adhered to, it is a safe environment in which to run fast as it is traffic and hazard free. The other main benefit is that the distances of repetitions can be measured accurately.

Before you start, however, you need to consider the surface. Most tracks are made of synthetic rubber, although there are still some 'cinder' tracks around and you could also be using a grass track. In terms of staying injury-free the grass track will be the most forgiving but you can avoid injury if you gradually build up the time spent on the synthetic track and start your track work in your road running shoes. Many track runners wear spikes or racing flats for their track work but these should only be considered if you are training close to a target event and carrying out event specific training. The impact on the lower leg can be massive if you are running hard track sessions in very flat shoes so beware!

The next consideration should be how many track sessions you will incorporate into your training. If you are a beginner to this sort of training it should be no more than one session per week.

Once you have planned where you will do the sessions and how often you will do them you need to plan the session and the pace. Here are a few track sessions to get you started. To begin with you need to run them at a pace where you feel you are running fast but relaxed and not flat out. You should be aiming for controlled speed rather than maximum speed. Once you have adapted to this kind of training and become good at pace judgement, you then could start to put your foot on the gas and increase the intensity of the sessions. Don't forget to log your times, distances, recoveries and, if possible, your heart rate at the end of each effort and at the end of each recovery so that you can monitor whether or not you are improving in terms of speed and endurance. Before each session a good warm up is essential and the session should finish with a cool down and some static stretching.

  1. 12 X 200m fast, 200m slow
  2. 8 X 300m fast, 100m slow
  3. 6 X 400m fast, 200m slow
  4. 4 X 800m fast, 400m slow
  5. 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m fast with 200m slow between each effort.The above workouts are just suggestions. Feel free to experiment with them but be mindful of the relationship between the F.I.T. factors. Good luck in your quest for a personal best!