Last weeks article was about running at a given intensity (such as 85 % of max heartrate) over various types of terrain for an unknown distance (though your watch and estimated pace gave you a good clue as to the distance covered). This week we turn our thoughts to the advantages of marked courses for measuring training progress.
Tracks or accurately measured sections of grass or asphalt allow you to practice relaxing at fairly high speed...5K to 15K pace. This sample form Running Dialogue describes track running quite nicely.
“These sessions will frequently be done on a track--tracks create a more reliable yardstick to assess progress. To some people, running around a track is boring: but trust me, it’s worth the effort once a week. “Of course, some people find any running boring; but those who’ve made it to this level should be able to handle one day a week at the track. Note I’m not talking of three days a week here. Running in a group; exchanging views; and the varied sessions, can give immense satisfaction.” I asked him if there were any other advantages to track sessions” He gave the following: 1/ Same distances all over the country...within a couple of yards or meters. 2/ An even flat surface. 3/ You get away from traffic, dogs and pedestrians... 4/ With like minded people, who have a respect for each others efforts, at whatever standard they are running. “Various people using the facilities does create problems,” he continued. “You need to obey a few rules. You may need to buy a permit to use the track...or pay a daily fee. Make yourself aware of changing room protocol. The shoes you wear on the track should be clean road running types. If the warmup included mud sections, finish off through some grass to clean them up....Or put on a clean pair for the session. “Be aware of the college or high school’s time to train; there is a chance you’ll be unwelcome. If you run fast enough, you can ask to join one of the groups--don’t even consider racing them. “Run at the back of the group, or to the outside of the lane, halfway down the line of runners. If your pace judgment is superb, you could offer to lead a rep or two--make sure you do it at the right pace. Help the coach with his or her difficult job, rather than adding to their problems.” “What you mean is, wait until you’re experienced before trying to join this kind of group.” “Generally. In some places they’ll be pleased to have a relative novice join in, perhaps with the second or slower group. They’ll appreciate an additional adult to guide the group.” “What about those track rules?” I asked. * “Always look both ways before walking across the jump runways. * “Also look both ways before stepping onto the track from the inside or the outside. Look behind before you change lanes. * “Always give way to someone who is running--sprinters tend to use lanes four to six of the straights. * “The inside lane should only be used for 600 meter or longer repeats. This will ensure it doesn’t wear out too quickly. This phase is mainly about 400 meters or quarter miles--referred to (oddly enough) as 400s or quarters. We will use lane two. You will start each repetition at the echelon or staggered start of the 400 meter race. * “The general rule of the track is that slower runners give way to faster runners. When you are running your repetition, how¬ ever...simply run your repetition. It’s up to the faster runner to overtake you by running wide; there is no need to give way. When you’re jogging or walking the rest period, you must always give way to those who are training. When getting lapped in tack meets, give up the inside lane to faster people. “Your options during the recovery (the interval between efforts), are for you to move to an outer lane if it is not being used by any¬ one, or to jog on the grass inside the track. You can rest at the side of the track--starting the next effort after a set time or when your pulse has recovered to a certain number. But the body recovers much better if you keep moving at a respectable jog...within three minutes per mile of the pace you do your reps at. The movement helps the muscles to get rid of the accumulated wastes. If you’re the only group or person using the track, ease one or two lanes out from the lane you are using; move back in fifteen meters before the next effort. “At some facilities, you will hear people shouting ‘TRACK’ at the top of their voices. This is to warn someone to move off the track as a runner approaches. It is very annoying and stressful to be forever shouting at people to move....And none too comfortable if being shouted at, either. Once concentration has been lost in a hard session, an athlete can soon get in a foul mood at having his session spoiled. He’s likely to make others feel uncomfortable. Track sessions should be fun...don’t add stress to the session by getting in people’s way.” He then listed some danger areas to watch for. * 1/ In the spring--runners who haven’t seen the track for 6 months--some, if they ever knew them, will have forgotten the rules. * 2/ Overcrowded track--as more people get agitated, some may forget to look before changing lanes. * 3/ Groups being coached--moronic yes, but they often hover around at the end of repetitions checking times. Ease to the outer lanes people, or the inside, off of the track--let the next group go through unhindered. * 4/ The new track person who has not developed the sixth sense which allows him to see everything and know what every other person is doing. Just kidding--stay out of lanes one and two and you’ll soon get the hang of it. Slip into lane two for the 400; ease back to lane three for the rest....Simple, isn’t it? “Visit the track sometime and see the rules being used--or not being used--as the case may be. Introduce yourself to a group who are at a similar standard. Then join the group for a few sessions to get used to the track. Introductions are best done before they train...during the warmup; or after they’ve finished training...joining them for the warm down. See what you can learn from them--including their mistakes. Rest Generally, you should take less than 90 seconds rest during interval sessions. The greatest stimulation of heart development occurs in the first 10 seconds of the rest period. If you’re running reps at the appropriate pace for you, it should only take 30 seconds for the heartrate to get below 130. The extra minute is for your mind, not your body. There is no need to wait for the H.R. to reach 90. 110-120 while maintaining a decent recovery speed is better.
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