Are you getting too caught up doing the same old track workouts? Are you overly concerned with measuring your time and seeing little improvement? We suggest you toss your stopwatch over to the side while you allow yourself to enjoy the process. By incorporating these tips, your speed and endurance can only improve.
WHY YOU SHOULD CHANGE UP YOUR TRACK WORKOUTS
Surely changing up your track workouts is appealing, especially when there are physical benefits when doing so. Are you finding variety in your workouts or are you noticing that you’re doing similar workouts each time you get to the track? You don’t want to get bored with your track workouts and you don’t what your muscles to pay for the lack of diversity in your training. We’re confident we can give you ample reason to make the changes necessary to bring your running ability to the next level.
Combining Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercising
Most health experts agree that runners benefit from a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise would consist of your steady runs, with a steady supply of oxygen. During aerobic exercise, oxygen supplies the body with energy that sustains the workout for about 20 minutes of continuous movement of your muscles.
Anaerobic exercise consists of sprinting and the intense shorter bursts that help break down carbs in the absence of oxygen. When you increase your anaerobic capacity, you boost your muscles' threshold for fatigue and build endurance for races. You can distinguish anaerobic exercise as the type when you get out of breath in just a few moments. This also happens when you lift weights or when you climb stairs or run up a hill.
PREPARE YOURSELF WITH ADEQUATE STRETCHING
You want to be loose and flexible before your runs, so you must stretch adequately. Make sure your muscles are warm when you stretch and don’t force them, rather, ease into each stretch. You want to make sure you stretch specific muscles like quads, hamstrings, calves, iliotibial band, gluten, groin, and hip flexors. You can do these lying on the ground or leaning against a wall.
When Should You Stretch?
You want to stretch before and after your workout, in fact, you should consider the stretching part of your workout. When you’re doing speed work, you want to first do a warm-up jog for 8-10 minutes, followed by a stretch. For your stretch before your speed workout, hold each of your stretches for 10 to 15 seconds. After your run, you will hold each of your stretches for 30 seconds; repeating twice on each leg if needed.
Always Maintain Proper Form
Remember to maintain good form as it will help you run more efficiently and contribute to your progress each workout. You want to check in continuously with yourself that your shoulders are down and back, and your chest is up. You want your arms bent and aggressively pumping up and down. Part of having the proper form is breathing correctly, which combines with your arm movement, and maintaining your chest upright with shoulders back.
5 TRACK WORKOUTS TO RUN FASTER WITH MORE ENDURANCE
Interval training is used to help increase stamina. If you haven’t tried interval training, you should give it a shot as it’s easy to create within your training program. Intervals are designed for you to build strength and speed by working your anaerobic system and increasing your lactate threshold. Conditioned runners will jog to get an active recovery between intervals, but if you’re new to interval training you can begin with walking.
It’s important to note that your intervals should not be conducted at maximum effort. This will allow you to maintain yourself the for the whole workout and allow you to more easily increase the number of reps you do. This being said, you'll want to maintain a consistent pace. You'll see that it's challenging to hold your pace for the entire workout.
If you’re new to interval training there are easy formats for you to follow. You can try a format like this: run 50 meters, then jog 50 meters, run 100 meters, then jog 50 meters, run 150 meters, then jog 50 meters. You can continue this format for as many meters you’d like to for a particular workout, or you can go up and down the ladder.
Hill Run Explosion
When you run up a hill, it’s all about harnessing that explosive power that promotes speed. Hill workouts develop your source of quick sprinting energy and work with your alactic energy system. With hill runs, you want to pay attention to your form so that your hands are pumping from your head to hips. Move your arms rapidly to set the pace and drive up your knees as you go.
When running uphill, you’re meant to go all-out and put in maximum effort. When running downhill you'll want to slow it down a bit, while still feeling a burn in your quads, tendons, and joints. Since you’re dealing with intense explosiveness, you'll be challenged to maintain a steady pace. Take a few minutes between reps to recover completely before you go again.
We suggest you start with a sprint of 10 to 20 seconds up an outdoor incline. You can use a treadmill with an inline that’s comfortable but challenging. Start yourself with a gradual incline, then you can move on to steeper hills as you get stronger. Due to the intensity of hill runs, only do them once or twice per week.
As noted, aerobic exercise is how your body consumes the maximum amount of oxygen during exercise. You include long-distance runs as part of your track workouts to increase your aerobic capacity. Long-distance runs will also allow your body to burn more fat for fuel. This makes the long-distance run essential to both building endurance and maintaining your optimal body weight.
Mostly, your long-distance run will be one workout session per week. One way to plan your longer runs is to schedule them to comprise 20% of your overall mileage for a particular week. Since it’s an aerobic run, you should be maintaining a steady pace in which you can hold a conversation the whole time. As you increase your progress each week, you can focus on improving your time and occasionally adding mileage to your long runs.
Do you have a 5K or 10K pace you know you can maintain? Do any of your track workouts allow you the opportunity to focus on your tempo as you run? Tempo runs are a helpful addition to workouts where you can use various running apps or a pace predictor if you’re unsure of your paces. They can help you maintain a ballpark pace for you to aim for and follow.
The pace for your tempo run will keep you pushing along consistently enough so you can sustain your effort the entire time. You want your tempo run to be mildly challenging - not too hard, but comfortably hard. If you’re having a full conversation, then it isn’t hard enough, you only want to speak short sentences at a time. This will keep you somewhere just lower than a 10K pace and around 85% of your maximum heart-rate.
Tempo runs will increase your lactate threshold, which is the point when your body switches from the aerobic to the anaerobic system. You will experience some noticeable fatigue when this happens. The aim is for you to sustain that given pace longer and make your threshold higher to build speed and endurance.
Fartlek runs are another option to increase your aerobic capacity and general conditioning. Fartlek is the Swedish way of saying ‘speed play’ and speed is something you want to experiment with regularly during your track workouts. Part of the goal of speed work is that it makes you uncomfortable, and it forces you to change your stride, effort, and breathing patterns. Runs focused on speed work will have an anaerobic effect on the body, whereas steady runs develop aerobic strength.
This type of running workout is perfect for the day after you’ve done a recovery or a long-distance run. Fartlek runs are a flexible opportunity for you to play around with different speeds and various distances when doing your track workouts. Your aim is to engage in fast running and slower running intermittently, constantly varying your pace and distance of each interval. The idea is for you to just randomly pick a destination such as a tree or street corner to switch things up as there are no set rules with the Fartlek run.
Now you know exactly what to do to improve your track workouts! Follow this blueprint of alternating these 5 types of runs and you'll notice a steady increase in your strength, speed, and endurance. If you're feeling overwhelmed to go all-in, then start by adding interval runs to your fitness regimen. Once you feel consistent with intervals, add your weekly long-distance runs or tempo runs.