When I first started getting into heavy training cycles, fellow runners would always ask me if I would be doing track workouts. My answer was always a quick no. To me, the track was for serious athletes and I was by no means a serious athlete. I don’t win races and sometimes, barely finish, so why would someone like me do track workouts? The track was a scary and forbidden place for me.
Then I started my training cycle for the 2016 Air Force Marathon. I had a big goal for this race, and something inside told me to buck up and hit the track. I was scared though. I knew I didn’t belong there, but I knew if I wanted to hit my goal, I needed to mix things up and the track was the way to do just that. I needed to gain some speed and no better way then the oval.
The problem was I was too intimidated to actually go out there. I had planned my track workouts on Tuesday. All I had to do was find a track, figured out my workouts and do them. I had to gain some confidence first though as I was too afraid to even step a foot on the track let alone start running laps.
One of the first things I did was to find a local track. I lucked out and found a high school track about 10 minutes away that was open to everyone in the evenings. If you’re having trouble finding an open track, reach out to local high schools. If that doesn’t work, ask your local running club or running store. Running clubs will often host a track workout during the week that you can join. For me, I wasn’t comfortable joining just yet, so I set out by myself.
The second part is figuring out your track workouts. Again, try contacting your local running club for sample workouts or grab a workout from a friend. I did a lot of intervals, ladders and my favorite became the Yasso 800’s workout. Keep in mind, not every session has to be an all out speed session. Just because you’re out there on the oval, does not mean that you have to go full out every time. One of the best things about the track is that it allows you to throw in intervals and vary your workouts.
Once you have your location and workout set, it’s time to go! If there are other people on the track, just remind yourself that it’s your workout. It’s not too much different than showing up to the start line of a race. While it’s easier said than done, pick your lane and focus on your laps. While I typically run in lane 1 or 2, depending on what others are running, it might be ideal to run in lanes 3 or 4 to start. If you plan on walking more, go for lanes 5 and 6.
It took awhile, but after a solid season of training for the Air Force Marathon, I actually looked forward to my track Tuesday workouts. I seemed to gain a little more confidence on the track after each lap. It didn’t hurt that I was also getting faster. When I missed a track workout, I felt as though something was missing. I almost felt that I was more loyal to the track than anything over that training cycle.
You might feel the same way, too, if you take a chance on the track! That first step will be the hardest but from there, the only way it’ll get harder is because of your workouts and because you’re getting faster. And if you can’t get to a track, you can do these track workouts on your normal route or even on the treadmill.