Silly over-quoted movie line aside, interval training is one of the best activities you can do to become a speedier runner. If you always run at a steady pace, that’s all you will ever do; run at a steady pace. It doesn’t matter if you are an endurance runner or short-distance runner, track workouts are an essential part of training if you want to become faster, stronger and prevent overuse injury. While most of us are just fine completing our walking and running routines on our own, track workouts can require more motivation and discipline and let’s be honest, are 10x more fun when done in a group!
If you haven’t been to a track workout for a while or ever, it can seem intimidating. However, a track is a lot like a treadmill: it’s flat, there isn’t traffic to watch out or stop for and you don’t have to go fast! Think track workouts are just for those trying to increase their speed? Think again! Adding short intervals of increased speed helps you get fitter faster. Bonus: if the track you workout on has a stadium or stairs nearby, include a few rounds up and down and you’ll feel the burn and increase your fitness. Below, I’ve outlined a few great reasons to make track training a part of your running routine.
1. Interval training helps you to become more efficient at working hard in an oxygen depleting state. You can gain similar benefits from popular workouts that include HIIT training. (That’s High Intensity Interval Training). A lot of fitness clubs are now offering classes that include HIIT training.
2. When increasing speed, opening your stride increases range of motion and engage muscles that aren’t normally used during long runs. The result will build power, increase turnover and make you faster.
4. Working harder increases calorie burn, thus you will increase your “after burn”. If you want to shed a few pounds, add interval training into your routine 1-2x a week to see results faster. If you are anything like me, seeing results faster is motivating to stick with something for the long haul.
5. You can get more accomplished and see greater results in a shorter amount of time. In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Physiology, they found that “sedentary men who did 40-60 minutes of cycling at 65% of their max five times a week, and those who did sprint interval training for less than 12 minutes each time three times a week saw similar results.”
Another reason to give the track a try is the accuracy. Even though almost all of us own some sort of GPS device to track our distance and pace, they aren’t always reliable. “Dead” spots still exist when out of cell range and those towering trees on your trail run can block the satellite signal. Treadmills can also be calibrated differently too. The track has been and will always be a place where the numbers don’t lie.
Oregon Road Runners Club hosts a track workout weekly, year-round for anyone interested. Need one more incentive to try out a track workout? The first Tuesday workout of every month concludes with a pizza and beer / soda dinner after. $20 gift certificates are given to those attending more than 20 times in a 6 month period. During the winter months (now-March) runners and walkers who have perfect attendance are entered into a drawing for a $50 Portland Running Company gift card. Even on non-pizza nights, club members like to go for a bite after their workouts. If it’s one thing runners like besides running…it’s their food.
What: Tuesday Night Track Workouts
When: 5:45 p.m.(warm up starts) 6:00 p.m. the workout starts and usually lasts about an hour.