Whether you are new to running or have hundreds of kilometres behind you, track running is a valuable addition to your weekly running routine.
The track is built for fast running. And speed work is a great way to increase your running economy, which is the amount of energy required to run at a particular pace. The goal with speed work is to run interval repeats faster that your 5K or 10K pace. When you run at a comfortable pace, you tend to rely mainly on the aerobic system, which requires oxygen to produce energy.
Speed intervals tap into the anaerobic system – which refers to the body producing energy without oxygen. Anaerobic training improves your ability to run at a faster pace while delaying fatigue, as it helps your body get better at supplying oxygen to your muscles in a more efficient way. You need your aerobic base for endurance, but you’ll need to develop your anaerobic base for speed.
The metric mile test
A timed distance on a track is a great way to assess your fitness, develop your running economy, and give yourself a goal to work toward. Set a benchmark by running a distance of 1,600 metres (4 laps) at a fast but steady pace. You want to go as fast as you can, but maintain an even pace for each lap. Note your time and use it as a benchmark to test yourself against every month as you train to run faster. The McMillan Running Calculator is a great tool to help you set your pace ranges and goals. Try it at www.mcmillanrunning.com.
Consider taking on a challenge this season: run 1,600 metres on the track. Record your time, and then go out and improve on it.