Whatever phase of training you are in there are compelling reasons to add a track session to your training plan.
The benefits you can expect:
We coaches see remarkable improvements in running ability and faster race times as a result of just one track session each week. Some age group triathletes think running on an athletics track is only for speedy young people but we know it will help all triathletes whatever your age or ability. Even those aiming at an Ironman distance race can benefit because a track session will make you a more efficient runner.
1. Running technique improves. This happens because you can really focus on your technique. With no traffic to dodge or uneven surfaces to negotiate there are no distractions. Slight changes in your body position, how you use your arms, where you carry tension can make you far more efficient when you run. If you do a coached session even better because they will spot your weaknesses and help you correct your technique
2. Better warm up. Something you should do every time you go out running. However, we coaches know what you normally do. At the track your coach will take you through a proper warm up The knowledge that you will run quicker is a good incentive to work out a good warm up routine. Then use it every time you run. This will improve the effectiveness of all your training and racing
3. Running drills to improve technique. These are designed to improve your running technique and activate the muscle groups you will use when you run. This will help reduce your probability of getting injured
4. You will run faster. The track is a flat, smooth surface ideal for running faster. As you run faster your technique improves. Your body also begins to understand what it feels like to run faster. It becomes used to running quickly. You can’t expect to race at a higher pace if you have never experienced running at this speed
5. You will get fitter. A higher training intensity session each week has been shown to rapidly increase your fitness. Train most of the time at low intensity but one session should be high intensity. The track session gives a controlled environment for completing a higher intensity session
6. Qualified help. The track session is a great opportunity to ask qualified, experienced coaches for advice. Before the session, at the end even during the warm up you can chat about your goals, your progress and for hints and tips to help you through those times when your training isn’t going so well.
7. Greater run awareness. Track running helps you become more aware of your running. You will notice when your technique is faltering. Your awareness of running pace becomes more skilled. It helps you become more attuned to your running efficiency
8. FOR FREE. An extra reason. The track is a good place to complete benchmark run fitness tests. Try a MAF test by running 8km at MAF heart rate (180-your age – 5). Stick to this heart rate as you run. How fast did you cover the distance? As you get more aerobically fit you will get faster. Alternatively run 5km flat out. What is your time? Repeat your chosen test every 4-6 weeks.
Whatever your age, ability or experience, a weekly track session will bring rapid improvements to your running. We highly recommend you add this session into your weekly training plan.
Author: Dave Bradley British Triathlon Level 3 Coach Director of coaching at itriwetri.com