You’ve probably heard of High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. It’s a buzz word in the fitness world these past few years. I want to tell you about track intervals, an oldie but a goodie. If you want to change your body quickly, throw a track workout into the mix once or twice a week. Seriously, look at sprinters’ bodies. Yeah, pretty lean.
If you didn’t run track in high school, a track might seem intimidating to you, or you just don’t know how to utlelize a track properly.
Let’s start with the basics.
A typical high school track is 400 meters around. 4 laps equals one mile. So one lap is a quarter of a mile. We refer to 1 lap intervals as quarters. They suck.
Half way around the track is 200 meters. We call those intervals 200s. These suck slightly less.
The straight-aways are the long stretches on either side of the oval and are 100 meters. These inervals suck too.
So, track work sucks. It hurts, but the results are amazing for torching fat, and for improving your running times.
If you are looking to drop your 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, PR’s, track work is what is going to get you there.
Let’s say you run 9 minute miles for race pace, but you’re currently stuck at 10 minute miles (works the same if you’re 8 minute miles and want to get down to 7, or wherever you are). You can’t do your maintenance runs at race pace. You will kill your body trying to run at race pace all the time.
You’re distance runs are for endurance, not for speed.
A tempo run doesn’t train for dropping your time, more for conditioning. If you want to run race pace, you’ve got to do intervals. Here’s how a track workout might look.
If you did 8 200s at 40 seconds each you would have run a mile in about five and a half minutes. You can’t replicate that, even in a race. You run at an intense pace, recover, and do it again. The recovery is what allows you to accomplish those times.
When you get back to a race, combining this speed training with your endurance and conditioning runs, your time drops, because you have trained a system that was not conditioned before. You trained the anaerobic system. That means you made your body operate in the absence of oxygen, making it utilize other fuel sources more efficiently.
If you’re not training anaerobically, your body will not take you there and you will remain stuck at your current PR. And because of the fuel it forces your body to utilize, fat gets torched. As a bonus, when you’re finished on the track, you are still torching calories. I burned 130 calories in the 30 minutes after I finished my track workout. That was sitting in my car on the drive home and sitting on the couch when I got there. 131 calories for doing nothing, gang!
Try these track workouts to torch some fat and improve your running times.
200s x 8 (I start these in the middle of the straight away and run the curve to the same exact spot on the other side): Do these at 80-90% effort. See what your first time is and shoot to stay within a second of that range for all eight.
If you have a GPS that shows you how fast you are running, see what your speed is and try to keep it within a mph either way of it. You will start to feel like you’re running in cement and can’t tell how fast you’re actually going. Watching your mph will help you stay on pace. If your watch just has a timer, keep an eye on your time so you can keep pace. The idea isn’t to run the first one as fast as possible and the others be way slower. You want them all to be about the same as the first one.
400s (quarters) x 4: These take extreme mental fortitude. You want your pace to be 80-90% effort, not an all out sprint. Get your first one and then like above, try to stick withing a second either way of that time. If your first one was fast and the next three are slow, you’re first one was too fast. If you got faster on each one, you’re not pushing hard enough. If the first one is hard and you’re barely hitting the same time on the fourth one, you’re just right.
100s x 16: These are the same, 80-90% effort.
Now, you can do longer intervals like 800s (half a mile), and even mile repeats. And how many you do depends on your conditioning. I would suggest just doing what would add up to a mile total to begin on all of these. If you are properly pacing yourself at 80-90% effort, you will progress nicely.
Do not do static stretching before this workout. Warm-up by jogging a lap or two, then do a dynamic warm-up. You can static stretch afterwards.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes. If you have any questions about starting a track workout, leave me a comment.