April 11, 2012

Don't be afraid of the track!

This post was written by Andrea

Last year at this time, I was afraid of the track. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been on a track for workouts since high school and I dreaded them back then. The only part I liked was before-and-after the workout, laying on the high jump mat and gossiping with my best friends.

Jake loves the track. He loves the feedback from each lap, the structure, the mental toughness associated with track work. He likes to say that "the stopwatch and tape measure never lie." After a lot of convincing, he finally got me to start with some 200m repeats. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t too bad either. Slowly he incorporated longer intervals and harder sessions into my training. The first few were still pretty dreadful, but then I got (relatively) used to them. A weekly track workout became part of my routine.

I have found that there is a big difference between workouts I did back in high school compared to the workouts I do today. Back then, I was training for very short distances – 400m and 800m (a total joke, I know!). The workouts were all-out efforts, as fast as I could possibly run. Now since I am training for longer distances, the workouts are much more controlled and there is a target effort level for each interval. I find this much more tolerable and easier to mentally prepare for. Every workout has a purpose, and the purpose is never to run yourself into the ground.

Since I have incorporated track workouts into my training, I have seen huge gains in my racing performances. The types of intervals usually change every week, and some examples of the workouts I do are 12 x 200, 3x(4x200), 8-12 x 400, 4-6 x 800-1000, ladder workouts like 4-8-12-16-12-8-4, 4 x 1600, etc. The rest interval between reps is almost always a 200-400m jog, depending on the workout. I don't stop running during the recovery because I want to teach my body to recover while I'm running.

The track is also great for working on form. Especially with 200s and 400s, I focus specifically on having proper form.

I have to add that in addition to getting faster, the track workouts also serve to ramp up the metabolism. The body gets used to running slow and easy everyday, but the track workouts give a different stimulus and help to lose weight (if needed). I don't particularly need to lose weight, but it does mean that I get to eat more!!

By the way, it helps a lot to have a friend to do the workouts with you :)

Doing a workout with our friend Adam last night
(Jake is tapering for Boston so right now he just lays on the track, calls out splits, and takes pictures)
Jake on the track in Sedona (February 2012)

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