Some runners love to run on the track. They enjoy running fast, and a good 400-meter track is a great place to run fast. Others can’t stand running on the track. They shrink from the suffering imposed by the high-intensity workouts that one is supposed to do on the track, and possibly also from the monotony of running in endless circles.
Whether you love or hate the track, training on it can improve your running by leaps and bounds, if you know what you’re doing. While it is possible to train effectively without ever visiting your local high school or college oval, there is no environment that is better suited to the high-intensity interval workouts that are an indispensable part of every runner’s training. A little interval training goes a long way. Just one visit to the track per week during periods of focused training for one or more races will do the trick. So if you don’t like track workouts now, perhaps you can learn to like them, and if you can’t learn to like them, surely you can still suck it up and suffer through them once a week.
There is a difference between enjoying track workouts and doing them effectively. Even some runners who love running on the track don’t do it right. The purpose of this article is to show you how to get the greatest possible benefit from running in circles. First I will explain the structure and benefits of the four basic types of interval sessions: short, middle-distance, long, and mixed. Then I will share some guidelines for incorporating track workouts into your training for each of four race distances: 5K, 10K, half-marathon and marathon.