by Matt Dravitski

Photo by Digital Buggu on

The winter season is winding down. What are you going to do with that pent up energy over the summer?

Well first things first – It’s important physically and mentally to take a 1-2 week complete break from running twice a year. If you’re an exerholic do some cross training (swim, bike, gym, world hamburger eating comp etc.)

Beyond that how about getting down to Newtown Park and hitting the track? Why?

  • Track racing can be intense but it’s also enjoyable. Try some distances and events that you haven’t done before or relive your school athletics days.
  • Build your fitness. Improving as a distance runner (and walker) is a bit like building a pyramid. It takes a lot of blocks over a decent period of time. Training and racing for a few months over the winter and then having a few months off over the summer year after year will get you to a certain level. But you’ll never build a Giza and you won’t get anyway near your real potential as a distance runner.
  • Different types of running build strengths in different areas. Cross country training and racing is great for leg strength and working on different skills etc. But track running and racing is great for improving your speed endurance and running economy in particular. It is also great for working on your pace judgment.
  • Summer is a great time to train. The weather’s better and there’s more light at both ends of the day.

Okay so now you’ve decided to hit the track what are some ideas for specific training sessions? Well firstly the fundamentals for middle and distance running don’t change much if it’s a 5k on the track, 10k on road or 8-12k cross country. You should still be doing a weekly 90- 120 minute run and training consistently – you’ve still got to get fit. On the track you just need to emphasis certain areas more. Here are a couple of specific sessions that you can add on a weekly basis. Aim for just one session (Tuesday) if you’re racing on Saturday and two if you’re not racing.

  1. Start with longer reps that don’t need to be that quick. especially initially. Say 5 x 800’s or 1k’s with 90 second recoveries. Just start off the first couple of weeks at about 10k race pace and bring these down to about 3-5k race pace after a few weeks. Mix it up. Do 1k’s one week, mile reps the next and 800’s the week after that. Too often athletes try to run too fast in track sessions relevant to their current fitness and are too anxious to focus on their 1500m or 3000m race pace, whereas its better to do the bulk of these sessions at 5k or 10k cruising speeds over longer distance repetitions interspersed with shorter faster work (see below). Running fast over middle and longer distances on the track isn’t about how fast you can sprint – it’s about maintaining a good speed as efficiently as possible for continuous periods of time.
  2. That’s where shorter reps come in. Like 12 x 150s or 200s. Run these fast but relaxed and jog or float the remainder of the lap to allow reasonable recovery. Each repetition should involve gradually building to 95% of top speed coming off the bend and running smooth and relaxed down the straight. Learn to run fast but keep the upper body especially relaxed.

All the best for the upcoming summer and a successful track season. Give me a bell if you have any queries.