We've been going to the track once a week for the past month or so, maybe more, and it's amazing what consistent, mentally and physically challenging track sessions with people who are much faster than you can do for your run speed, form and confidence. Last night was the first time I've left a workout in a long time feeling super proud of myself (and not defeated which is how I usually leave track sessions)!! I have had a hard time with track workouts in the past if they entail more than one loop around the track at a time and obviously most track workouts make you go around in circles more than once per interval (you think I would be used to the monotony having been a swimmer for 20 years swimming back and forth, inside, looking at a black line for 2+ hours everyday). This week I was able to hold it together for 98% of the workout and was able to be faster than I though I could/should be, which is always confidence building. Thanks Aaron, Tim and Mariane!!
This is where I used to do my "track" workouts and I would just use my Garmin to measure the distance and stop when I got to the correct point, jog/walk a little to cool down and then start the next interval. At least I was working on my mental math skills while I was also getting in a workout, right?! I never truly understood the benefit of running on a track until I started to do it consistently (and don't get me wrong, I'm no expert and I haven't been consistently going to the track for too awful long, but long enough to know and see results ). These are probably things you already know, but I'll go ahead and mention them anyways. The track is a fixed distance (obviously!), a set route, there's no thinking involved when you have a workout to do, you know how many loops you need to do and where you need to start and stop. There's no cheating on the track, you can't cut the interval short without someone you are with noticing and holding you accountable. You can focus on your form (stride, cadence, etc) a lot more on the track, it is an uninterrupted surface with flat terrain. Track is super helpful if you want to work on your pacing as well. It gives you a place when you can hit interval after interval at the same pace and let you body get a feel for what running at xmin/mile feels like without having to deal with traffic, hills, other people, changes in road surfaces, etc. Track running also seems a little less harsh on my body than always road running on hard surfaces. The track surface is a little more forgiving than the roads are. These are just a few of my thoughts and things I've noticed from running on the track lately there's no science or anything behind it, just what I've been thinking about. But it seems to me that if you want to be a stronger, faster, more efficient runner, incorporating a track workout once in a while (probably once a week is good) is one way to work on bettering your running performance.