I love running in circles. No seriously, I do! I love track workouts - the precision of the distance and the pace, the consistency, the controlled environment where you can push yourself and test yourself. How does that mile time measure up against your last attempt? How has your cadence improved? How far can you go on a hard effort?
I know plenty of people who hate track workouts. They moan and groan about having to do them, or they get bored on the track, or it's a hassle to go to the track, or they associate track workouts with painful workouts (not necessarily undeservedly so). But here are a few reasons why track workouts are my favorite:
1) You can easily measure yourself.
There's nothing like a consistent surface upon which to measure yourself. While you can't account for every variable - wind resistance, temperature, etc. - at least you can make sure you've got a flat, even, consistent track upon which you can run time trials and race yourself.
2) It makes you faster and stronger.
All hail the fast twitch muscles! Champions of speed, explosive power, and agility! I love getting my fast-twitch sprinting muscles into gear - years of soccer have honed me into loving that fast sprint down the field after a little bouncing ball and there's nothing like the joy of wind in your hair and ears. And if you're not on some green grass chasing a ball towards a goal then you might as well get that experience on the track, right?
3) You can really push your limits.
I'll admit that I'm not one to get thrilled about hitting top speed when I'm miles away from my house or my car just in case that happens to be the time I twist my ankle or don't notice the car coming in the crosswalk or turn the corner and get attacked by a Canada goose (that's another story), but when you're on the track and your car is just in sight in the parking lot it can be blissful to just open up a bit and really push yourself. Sure, your legs might burn a little when you kick it into hard effort, but after a little bit the endorphins kick in and suddenly you're gliding by on a runner's high. Mmmm yes blissful.
4) You don't have to think.
You know on your long runs when you have to pay attention to the directions for your route, look for turns ahead, and generally stay tuned into your surroundings? Yeah, on the track you don't have to do all that. Well, you still have to make sure you don't crash into another runner, but it can be wonderful to really settle in, pay attention to your body, your breath, and your cadence, and focus inward. Meditative running? Yes please. Plus it's just left turns - even a NASCAR driver could do it! (I mean, even a caveman stock car driver could do it? Love to my NASCAR-loving friends!)
Oh yes, there's nothing like the track workout, and if you're not incorporating a track workout into your training schedule then you should! Check back for more "Restless Runday" posts with tips on track workouts in the coming weeks!
PS - I tried going to some local tracks to take some photos but they were closed when I visited. So I've got some more stock photos to cover this post. And some train track photos. Get it? Tracks...train tracks...Yeah, definitely don't make the mistake of doing your running workout on train tracks though. Seriously. Don't do it! (Ahem, as my parents always said, "Do as I say, not as I do.")