The track workout is designed to make you faster. If you have established a steady running schedule and are ready to work on your speed, the track workout is for you.
How it works: The suggested workout consists of two parts, longer repeats and shorter repeats. (Insider's tip: nobody does the second part.) Repeats are done at a fast pace with recovery intervals in between, run at a slow pace. The track is 400 meters per lap, so 6 X 800 with 400 recovery means two laps hard, followed by one lap easy, 6 times. "Hard" might mean around 5-K race pace for short repeats (like 400s) or around 10-K race pace for longer repeats (like 1600s). "Easy" means just slow enough to recover completely before the next repeat.
Etiquette: Since we often have as many as 200 runners on the track, the rules of the road are crucial. The inside lanes are for the fastest runners, middle lanes for slower running and recovery, outside lanes for walking, slow jogging, and running clockwise (the usual direction is counterclockwise). When passing someone who is in your lane, call "TRACK!!" or the lane number, e.g., "TWO!!" When you hear someone call from behind you, move to the outside and let them pass on the inside. If you know someone's coming, don't force them to yell--they're just as out of breath as you are--just slide out one lane. Headphones and wheels of any kind are strongly discouraged for safety reasons.
What does "Track X!" mean? "TRACK X!" means "I am coming up behind you in lane X and I need you to slide out into lane X+1 so that I can pass you on the inside." If you hear "TRACK 3!" and you're in lane 3, move out into lane 4; if you're in lane 2, don't worry about it, they're on your outside, and they shouldn't be catching up to you anyway (if they were, they should be farther inside). If a group is occupying more than one lane, they should call for ALL of those lanes, e.g., "TRACK 1, 2, 3!" (But it is bad form to take up more than two lanes, shame on you ;) ) If there are multiple groups passing each other, the fastest should call for lane 1, then the next fastest can call for the next lanes, etc.
With so many people on the track, don't be surprised to hear TRACK 5. FTMers doing in and outs should move out on the slow bits and in on the fast bits so as not to be passing on the outside (which confuses the regulars) and should try to stay two lanes wide. If we all play by the same rules, we'll have a safe and productive workout.
Beginners: Speedwork beginners should ease into it, doing a partial workout for the first few weeks. You should always run a warm up before and a cool down after doing speedwork. Pace groups are very loosely organized. Look for a group that seems to be about your speed or perhaps a bit slower--you can always move up once you know which group is which. Introduce yourself! We're a very friendly bunch, but new folks can go unnoticed if they don't speak up.
Children: We encourage kids' inclusion in the sport of running and in their parents' healthy lifestyles. However, we do ask that parents monitor their small children closely during the workout. We regularly have close calls with kids stepping onto the track surface from the infield into the path of the (fastest moving) runners, especially at Montgomery College during the summer. The high-jump and pole-vault mats at MC are off-limits to all.
Pizza: After the workout, join us at Giuseppe's Pizza next to the Regal Theater. One dollar per slice or beverage.
Denis MacDonald or find him at the track (the guy with the microphone).
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Montgomery County Road Runners Club
P.O. Box 1703, Rockville, MD 20849