About a year ago I started doing track workouts for the first time. I thought they would be a nice addition to my running and maybe help me get faster. That was a huge understatement---in about a year I have improved my pace quite a bit and become so much more aware about pace and perceived exertion. Not to mention I have been getting an incredible workout at the track---I feel more tired after track than I do sometimes after a long run!
I am really lucky that my gym offers a track workout on Tuesdays, complete with a coach who used to be a professional triathlete. Lara is awesome---the perfect mix of encouraging with reality. On days that my heart rate shoots up and I'm visibly tired, she gives me a shorter drill and then tells me to walk a few laps barefoot, with a reminder to get more sleep and stop eating so much sugar so I can feel better next week.
Here is an example of a workout that we have done:
Warm-up 1/2 miles jog
Dynamic warm-up--includes walking lunges, butt kicks, high knees, over/under hurdles, ect.
2x400 at threshold pace*
45 seconds rest in between
3x900, running the 1st 300 at threshold, the 2nd 300 at 10K pace, the 3rd 300 at threshold
1 minuter rest in between each 900
3x200 FAST. Basically sprint the 200's, and a full recovery in between each one
Walk one lap barefoot
Jog back to the gym (about 1/2 mile away from the track)
*Our threshold pace is something that Lara taught me about. We consider this pace to be one that you could run comfortably for an hour, saying words but not holding a conversation. I was able to gauge my threshold pace after a few practices by running a 400m and then taking my heart rate for ten seconds. When I was consistently getting 27-28 beats, that is what we considered my threshold. The amazing thing about this is that I have seen so much improvement. One year ago my threshold pace for a 400m was about 2:15. Meaning it took me 2 minutes and 15 seconds to run one lap around the track at a comfortable pace I could run for an hour without dying. The past few months I have consistently run a 1:49! It is really amazing how speed work can make you faster. Track has also helped me to become more aware of my pace and how to settle into it. I am less likely to go out fast during races and overall feel better about my pace. I seriously look forward to my Tuesday track workouts and crave that feeling at the end of practice when I am so exhausted. I feel so accomplished!
If you have any questions about the track terminology that I am not being clear on, let me know! I have just been learning it as well. Although I ran track in middle school somehow I forgot all of the terminology. I am still learning too!
Do you do speed work? How has it helped you? I would love to know!