4 Reasons I Love the Track Workout
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.")
Well, I have officially blown my running streak. The goal was to run a mile every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, but something about the Holiday Mile did me in. The concept is simple: 1 mile, 4 cookies, 4 glasses of milk. You start the race by gobbling down a glass of milk and a cookie, and then you run a quarter mile. Stop, eat a cook and drink a glass of milk, run a quarter mile, repeat until the mile is done. The holiday mile will either make you or break you...and it definitely broke me!
Two miles. Uphill. In the snow. Both directions. Okay, so that was a more accurate description of my hike this weekend rather than my run, but it's pretty close. This weekend McCrae and I escaped to his aunt and uncle's mountain cabin outside Sparta, NC. We had an...adventurous...time getting up to the cabin via the Blue Ridge Parkway (which was closed) and private roads (which were gated and locked) and icy vertical drives (which apparently popped one of our tires), but we made it and we spent 4 days in the cabin together and didn't want to kill each other (#romancegoals) Of course, mountain cabin vacation or not I had a running streak to maintain! So I did an out-and-back down the private gravel road to the cabin.
Possibly the hardest blog post is the one that comes after a period of silence. Was it writer's block? I'd argue no because I still have been writing *something* but just not posting. I'm not the type of person who forces herself to write if I'm not ready, but usually just staring at a blank page with a pen in my hand is sufficient enough inspiration, although what I write about may not be exactly relevant. And so, derailed and uninspired, I have been struggling with guilt and inertia.
I have officially completed a full marathon event! Well, with a little help from my teammates. I met up with my NC Oiselle Volee teammates on Sunday morning for the City of Oaks marathon relay in Raleigh, with 26.2 miles split across four runners. We had five teams running so it was quite a crowd, with plenty of snacks and selfies.
On Saturday night as we drove to the next big exchange point after what was supposed to be a quick bite at Wendy's I sat in the back seat of the van with my legs kicked up and my Richmond half marathon blanket draped over my sore legs and watched brown-gold fields chase the sunset. Some fields were cotton - half-harvested or brow-beaten with white balls - the closest to snow that ever settles on those furrowed fields. Some fields contained soybeans - either thin from recent harvest or heavy with dry or moldy bean shells for crop rotation, already longing to burrow and return to the soil and elude the dull grey winter that in this Indian summer seemed impossibly far away. But the crops knew that winter is coming. Brown naked stalks of tobacco stood sentinel in some fields, though there were much fewer fields than there were twenty years ago or even ten years ago. As we drove east I looked behind us at the shrinking fields and watched the sky purple into twilight, a soft nostalgic smile curling at my lip corners. Tuna Run 200 this year was very different from last year - check out the full race report!
You don't really realize just how repetitive the motion of running is until you try doing something else. I had decided not to play soccer this summer or fall season because of a full schedule and the propensity of picking up odd injuries here and there but when I got the desperate text asking if I could please sub for a team that was going to be drastically short some placers I said yes, and on Thursday evening I pulled my soccer bag from the back of my closet and laced up the cleats.
At some point this weekend while working through the piles of periodicals that I've amassed throughout my house over the past year I got restless. "I might go on a run. Did I do my long run yesterday? Or was it the day before? I don't know, but I think I'll go on a run." And so, forgetting that I'd run seven miles on Saturday morning, on Sunday afternoon I went for a little run. And I kept going for six miles. I suppose when you get to the point that six or seven mile runs don't really feel much like long runs anymore then it might be time to consider the full marathon.
It's not often you see a world record broken. On Friday night the world record for the fastest denim mile run by a woman was smashed on the track of Meredith College as part of the Sir Walter Miler races. With an exciting line-up of denim runners, local running teams tackling the 4x400 relay, and a talented line-up of men's and women's elites, it was a great stage for world records and chasing the sub-4:00 mile time.
I'd always wanted to run the Bull Moon Ride and Run. It's a must-do local race that benefits Habitat for Humanity of Durham, a nonprofit I've volunteered and fundraised for previously, and for some reason the last few years I've been out of town or I've had some other conflict. So when Travis and Kristen and I decided to run the race this year, I was stoked. I was driving to downtown Durham when I realized this would be my first 5K race. I did things a little backwards starting with five half marathons, three 10-milers, a few 5-milers, an 8K and a 200-mile relay race. But I'd never raced a 5K, and it was electric in downtown Durham by the time I arrived at the start line.
Ugh. Summer. Sure, there are lots of things to love like extra daylight and beach trips, but 100 degree heat and 100% humidity? Nope. I do not love those things, and I especially don't love running in those conditions. So what do you do when it feels like your skin is about to melt off your body and sizzle onto the pavement, but you want to keep your running fitness? Try other workouts! Here are my 5 favorites.