Monday, May 22, 2017

To Track or Not To Track...

... that is the question.

And this time I'm not talking about tracking your food/ calories/ macros/ etc (although I am still doing this daily and really appreciating all of the insight and knowledge this habit is bringing to my life).

I'm talking about doing your speed work/ interval runs on the track.


Since I started working with a coach a few weeks back (feel free to read the original post HERE and the update on how everything is going HERE), I started adding speed work back into my training {Confession: Prior to this round of training, the last time I did any type of speed work was during my last BQ attempt which ended at the beginning of October}.


Let's be real, sometimes speed work can be intimidating... so although I have the best intentions of doing it, it is one of the first things that falls off the calendar. But if I am serious about my goals (and listening to my coach's expertise), then speed work seems to be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, where I live, I haven't found a great track to run on. There is one near the house, but it is on the campus of a middle school - which means, when school is in session the gate is locked and I can't use it (not to mention it is dirt, not well kept and I don't even think it is a legit 400 meters around). I've also called a couple high schools with great athletic facilities, but they have said that only students are allowed to use the property. #LAMESAUCE

With that said, I've been doing my intervals during normal runs. There are a few positives I've found with this option.

First, it keeps your runs feeling fun and fresh (even if you are running a familiar route). Although I may know where the mile markers would be on a "normal" run, when you break up a run with 400 or 800 meter pushes and intervals of rest, it can really throw a wrench in your run (in a good way {at least in my opinion}) and keep you on your toes.


Next, I appreciate you aren't running a totally flat workout. Most tracks are pretty level (they are convenient, constant and controlled), so you don't have much elevation change. This can be helpful (to keep pace consistent), but there aren't many races that are super flat, so running your speed work on a route with some up and downhill forces you to really focus on pace (not to mention it seems a little more realistic to me than the "manicured" track workout).


Now, with the positives come a couple negatives.

First, I don't constantly check my Garmin (whether that is a good or bad thing is up for debate). So not running on a track or looking at my watch means I don't know when I am coming up on the end of the interval (my watch does a little countdown beep once I get close enough, but other than that I am not 100% sure where the interval will end). I've found that although it keeps my runs exciting, it is a bit of a mental challenge because I don't know how far I need to push.


Next, I find track workouts tend to build my mental toughness more than pounding the pavement. I know when I step onto the track, I'm there for a hard workout (as opposed to running the same route I consistently run). It's a mental switch in my mind. The track becomes a physical destination that I associate with a certain kind of practice. Running speed work on the track removes most of the variables from your workout so you can focus on the task at hand.


Thankfully school will be out for the summer soon, which means I should be able to use more of the local tracks. Although I may keep some of my intervals on my normal routes, I'm looking forward to getting back to the oval office for some of the harder workouts. But whether you have a track at your convenience or not, that is no reason to toss out speed work all together or to avoid running outside of your comfort zone! You gotta run fast to race fast, so LET'S GO! 

Do you currently have speed work in your training?

5 comments:

Heather Mundwiler said...

I am adding speed work back into my training plan for my fall halfs. I didn't do a whole lot (if any!) during my training for the Dopey Challenge and only didn't a little bit for my spring 10 miler. I love doing speed work on a track - it helps me push myself, whereas on a run, like you said, I don't know how long I have to push myself and can give up more easily. I'm surprised you couldn't run on the tracks at the high schools. Any of the public schools tracks are open in the area I used to live at, and now I run at the University that I work at, but also my local running group rents every Tuesday evening.

BreezieGirl said...

I really did think this would be a macro tracking update at first (even WITH the photo).

That said, I agree with pretty much everything you said. I love track workouts because I can SEE the end of my upcoming interval and really push hard in that time/space because I know when it'll be over and time to rest. My fastest miles are always on a track.

But, I like that regular runs are more realistic and fresh. Which, is probably a good thing because I also have an issue with finding tracks that are available. There's a park walking distance from my aunt with a track. It's dirt and probably not the best maintained, but it's fully public and available. Why don't more parks have tracks???

Chelsea B. said...

We have just added speed work back in. But we also just started on a focused training plan (Ironman 70.3). We have mainly been doing our speed work just on our running route. I know there are benefits from a track workout, but I think the track is mentally harder for me. I am just going no where :)
But I think there is good qualities of doing speed work either way. And most importantly just doing the speed work in general.

Happy Running :)

Erika Carter said...

I do speed work like once a year, terrible, I know. I know I should do it, but never make the effort. I really should change that!

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