The Need for Speed

7 Reasons to Get “ON TRACK” Today!

by: Julie Stackhouse

On your mark, get set…GO!  As someone who has spent decades of my life running countless laps around a 400m oval, take it from me that track workouts are not as monotonous or intimidating as one may think!  If you haven’t ever explored track workouts as a part of your training regimen, here are some reasons why you should consider making them a consistent part of your weekly routine.

  1. Training at paces at or slightly faster than race pace – While you may not be able to maintain the faster pace of an interval workout for the entire duration of your race distance (yet), the goal is that by training at these paces consistently, eventually you will be able to. First, you need to condition your body to these new paces.  You will experience a training effect and adaptation will occur with consistency over time.
  2. Consistency in pacing – With constant feedback per lap (400m) it’s much easier to dial in your desired goal pace in a workout – and to stay on it. Shorter bouts help to keep you more focused, and without changes in terrain to consider you can pace more evenly.  If you are really adept you can check splits as often as every 100 meters to remain consistent and not make a fatal error of running too fast, too long, too early which could make a workout unfinishable.
  3. Controlled recovery – Equally important as the time run on the interval that was just completed, is controlling the time (or distance) of the recovery. The “low” intervals are designed to replenish oxygen, allowing you to complete another “high” intensity interval at desired pace.
  4. Change in surface – Once a week or so it is a great idea to vary the surface that you train on. A rubberized track surface feels energizing to run on, to me it is as though the track is “giving back” each time you take a step.  It’s a nice break from the pavement!  If you are steadily logging the miles each week, your knees and ankles will thank you!
  5. Training with others – What is more motivating than training with others who have similar goals as you? Having other runners training at similar (or faster) paces can give you the extra incentive that you need to get through a challenging workout.
  6. Variety in training – Even if just one day a week, track workouts are a proven way to add variety to your usual routine. Personally, I really like “Workout Wednesday” option because it helps to break up the training week.  I sandwich it with an easy day prior and recovery day afterwards.
  7. Increased caloric burn – Interval training has been proven to increase caloric burn, even while at rest following the workout. By working out a high intensity, the body produces a chemical called catecholamine, which triggers a fat burning process in your body.  This causes a heightened metabolic rate for up to 48-hours post- workout.  Feasibly you could burn as many total calories in 24-48 hours with a 30-minute high intensity workout as you would with about an hour at low intensity running.

GET ON TRACK!  These are only a few of the many benefits of adding track, interval training or “speed work” to your training regimen.  Need a little extra incentive to get started?  Join the Sunny Runner Club Wednesday evenings at the Ponte Vedra High School track 6:00pm (workout start time) for our weekly track workout!  Visit our JRC Running Club page for further details.  I recommend coming 15 minutes early if possible to get in some solid warm-up laps first.  You must be an active club member or a current subscriber to a JRC coaching service to join.  Hope to see you out there soon!

About the author:

Julie Stackhouse, no stranger to track & field, has competed in every event from the 100m hurdles to the 3,000m steeplechase and 5,000m on the track.  She coached college track and cross country at the Division I level for over 10 years.  She is the Performance Running Coach and leads group track workouts for Jacksonville Running Company ( as well as individual fitness sessions as the owner of Stackhouse Fitness (


Media by: Tay Scheibe

Sunny Runner

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