Host Your Own Track Party!

(I agreed to let Tiffany, an aspiring Crossfit coach, lead me through a what I believe the kids these days are calling a “WOD” after work. Send help and ice packs and Bengay.)

So I met Margot at our super special janky track last night for a cold, misty, didn’t-really-want-to-be-there-but-went-anyway-and-am-so-glad-we-did workout. I tried to capture the true beauty of the unlit, potholed mess blinded by the stadium lights from the girls’ football (?) practice across the fence. Every lap’s an exciting adventure when you can’t see where you’re stepping for 50 meters around the curve.

Track Party


epic’ly bad on-the-run photography

In my return to ‘fast’ running this year, we’ve done three speed workouts and each time I leave the track all high on endorphins proclaiming “THAT WAS MY FAVORITE WORKOUT EVERRRR!”

(regardless of what I was saying during it)

Interested in playing with speed workouts but no idea what to do or how fast or how many? Me neither, that’s why I have Margot. But maybe you don’t have an experienced former track star in your bag of running tricks. In which case HERE is a good article on getting started for beginners, HERE is a list of solid workouts, and HERE are more complicated combo workouts for when plain ol’ repeats get stale.

Once you decide what you’re doing, visit Mr. McMillan’s Every-Runners-Best-Friend Calculator to get an idea what pace to run. I put in goal time for the race I’m training for (half marathon) and follow the equivalent race paces. Keep in mind these are GOAL paces, not what your current fitness level is. Like, I’d drop dead trying to run what it says for a 5k right now, but that’s a good measuring pace for shorter interval work.

And because not everyone has access to a track – even one as hilariously pathetic as ours – keep in mind most of these can be done on a treadmill or regular stretch of flat pavement (use or your GPS watch to measure). 800m (1/2 mile) and mile repeats are great off-track, so long as you’re comfortable with sideways glances from non-runner pedestrians/neighbors.

(Garmin tutorial for off-track intervals)

Here’s a list of what we’ve done this cycle and why I loved them. In case you’re looking for some inspo or want to come crash ‘Ragnar Track’ next time…

  • 5x800m @10k to 5k progression, 90s rest – easing back in with good ol’ standby, loud and proud love for the two-lap repeats
  • 2x – 8x400m set1 @10k 5k, set2 @5k sub5k, 60s between reps, 3min between sets – over before it starts hurting too bad, just make sure your watch has enough lap data and you don’t lose count
  • 5x1000m @ 10k sub5k, 2min rest – chasing Margot who apparently likes running faster in the rain and trying to calculate split paces made this one fly (maybe I like 800s so much because the math is so easy?)

Looking forward to many more laps around the oval – I think I’ve asked before, but what are some of your favorite speed workouts? Also would you make fun of someone wearing a headlamp on the track? Hypothetically of course…

Sarah OUaL


15 thoughts on “Host Your Own Track Party!

  1. Thank you for posting about how to do speed workouts!! Its something I should be doing, but I’m in the “no idea what to do” boat. I’m not even sure if I’m allowed to use the high school track?

    Yes, I would make fun of someone using a headlamp on a track :) But I’d also be running next to you with a headlamp on my head at the same time….


  2. Pingback: Up to Speed | An Interesting Year

  3. Mcmillan also lists pace ranges for track intervals so you can just go by your current fitness which is what he suggests for continued improvement. I can’t imagine running tracks based on goal paces. I’m lucky to get in my current fitness range. Then again endurance and therefore longer distance races have always been my strong suit…


  4. I have one speed workout…it is for the treadmill. 3 minutes at a jog (6.0for me). Followed by 1 min all out (ehhh, about 9.something, trying to build back up to 10.0). Repeat for 30 minutes. I’m kind of excited to implement some of the speed workouts you mentioned (I say from the comfort of my bed…)


  5. The jankiest track I remember up there near-ish to Margot is the one in Redondo Beach on Aviation. No lights, dirt track, lots of uneven spots, divets, etc. But it’s open to all!

    I’m guessing that’s not your track – unless you are really driving that far every week – kudos to you if you are!


  6. Ladders are fun. 2×200, 2×400, 2×800, 1×1600, 2×800, 2×400, 2×200, with 1 lap recovery jog between each (except the 200s, 200 there). I don’t remember what pace I ran those at, probably 5k pace for the 200/400, 10k pace for the 800/1600. Or pretty much as fast as I could go without dying.


  7. Although there is a high school with a track about 10 minutes from me, and another one that is open to public use all the time about 20 mins away from me I’m usually to lazy and like to do them in the neighborhood. There’s a nice quiet U Shaped road that is a mile long so perfect for workouts. I get weird glances from the people living at the start and end of the mile if they are out but oh well!. Certainly a little more interesting than going to the track although I do envy your track parties as my workouts are done all by my lonesome :(


  8. I did the 5×800 workout last night and actually…I liked it! Another good workout is doing 10×400 with each one progressively faster than the last. We did that one in high school track and while it was painful, I always liked that one.



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