Improve your running speed through track workouts

How to improve your running speed

Time spent pounding out long distances may make you a better endurance runner, but not necessarily a faster one. If you want to improve your running speed, then the only way to do this is to run faster. A good way of achieving this is through speed sessions on the track. Here's the guide to the best track workouts.

Just because you are preparing for a road race, such as a 10k or half marathon (13.1 miles), does not mean you should never visit the running track. The track is ideal for training sessions because it is the one place that you can accurately measure distance, pace, effort, and improvement.

It is best to have at least four to six weeks of easy training under your belt before attempting your first track workout. Intense running on the track puts a great deal of stress on the body, so it is recommended that you only attempt one track workout each week.

Track running requires a little planning, with distance, intensity, recovery, and repeats all to be factored in.

Sample workouts to consider

Long repeats

When preparing for the 10k or half marathon, it is important that you run at a higher intensity for a longer period of time to simulate the effort of the race. Running repetitions between 800m and 1,600m (approximately 0.5 to 1 mile) will improve your endurance and rhythm. Run the repetitions near your 5k and 10k race pace respectively. Jogging or walking 400m to 800m (0.25 to 0.5 miles) between each repeat should be sufficient.

Sample workouts

3 sets of 1,600m (1 mile) at half marathon pace with 800m slow jog recovery between or six sets of 800m (0.5 miles) at 10k pace with a 400m (0.25 miles) jog in between repeats.

Short repeats

Shorter repeats of 200m (0.12 miles) and 400m (0.25 miles) are perfect for the final weeks before a big race. When running shorter repeats, you want to focus on keeping your form while concentrating on quick turnover.

Sample workouts

16 sets of 200m with a 200m jog in between at your mile race pace or 12 sets of 400m with a 200m jog at 5k race pace.

Tempo runs:
Just like you do on the roads, tempo runs are also a great workout for the track. Run anywhere from 2 to 6 miles at around 75 to 90 per cent of your race pace effort. Focus more on maintaining your pace and form, and less on trying to run a fast time. The track may not be as scenic as the roads, but you will be able to get instant feedback each lap to make sure you are running the right pace.

Sample workout

Short warm-up, 3-mile tempo run at half marathon pace, short cool-down.

The above sample workouts are just suggestions, and can be tinkered with. Always remember to take plenty of recovery in between repeats, and never run back-to-back hard sessions. One track workout a week is plenty and should see your speed improving in no time. 

Hopefully these track workouts will help you to improve your running speed. Good luck.

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