My Favorite Track Workout: Ladder Up

I’m the biggest fan of track workouts. Last summer, it was Track Tuesdays and I would meet my (MUCH faster) friends Birdie and Minnie and they would lap me while I do my favorite workout.

Just a normal day at the track wearing makeup and a skirt.

Just a normal day at the track wearing makeup and a skirt. Just kidding. I look gross during track workouts.

Best part about a track workout is that it’s broken up and none of the sections last very long. This workout is my favorite because it hits lots of different gears and makes me feel strong in the end.

Ladder Up

  • 2 mile warm-up (super easy and relatively slow)
  • 4 x 200 meter sprints (200 meter jog in between repeats)
  • 3 x 400 meter sprints (200 meter jog in between repeats)
  • 2 x 800 meter hard tempo (400 meter jog in between)
  • 1 x 1 mile all-out
  • 1-2 mile cool down (relaxed pace)

This is a surprisingly long workout that goes by very quickly when you take one repeat at a time.

Win the argument.

Win the argument.

3 things to remember are:

  1. Maintain the same pace for each repeat in the set (all 400s the same pace, all 800s the same pace, etc).
  2. Your pace should be fastest for the 200s and slowest for the mile, not the same throughout the entire workout.
  3. Maintaing the pace through each lap in the 800s and mile is also key.

This workout is designed to get you in shape, help you find your true comfortable pace, and to find different gears in your pace. And isn’t it nice to mix it up a little on the oval?

Now go out and run.

Twice the Fun

Lots and lots of you are familiar with one of my favorite track workouts: Mile Repeats. I did these a lot when I was chained to training mostly on a treadmill in years past while I was sick.

Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the neon machine woman!

Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the neon machine woman!

But there are other types of repeats that marathon runners should consider adding into their track workout rotation.

Yes, yes, the shorter distances are well and good but don’t forget, the marathon is a loooooooooong run. Adding 2-mile repeats to your schedule will have you working closer to your lactate threshold while not exceeding it, which is exactly what you hope to do during your race.

-What: 2 mile repeats

-When: On a track workout day about halfway through training, after you’ve built a solid base

-Where: On a flat surface or a track

-Details:

  • Warm up for 2 miles, rest.
  • Hit your first 2-mile repeat at 5K pace or better. Rest for 3-5 minutes.
  • Hit your second 2-mile repeat at the SAME pace, whatever it was. Rest.
  • 1-2 mile cool down.

-Goal: Maintain a consistent pace from Mile 1 to Mile 2 and then repeat those paces in your second set.

2-mile repeats are twice the fun! Just kidding, they kinda suck cuz they’re long enough at a hard enough pace to make you wonder when they’ll end. I do it on the road instead of the track because 8 laps makes me dizzy and frustrated.

Mile repeats in the mountains of Vermont? No thanks. I'll stick to the track.

Mile repeats in the mountains of Vermont? No thanks. I’ll stick to the West Side Highway.

It’s important to start these after you have a solid foundation of miles under your belt. They are designed to help you simulate fatigue in your legs while maintaining a tough pace and you’ll need to be conditioned for that kind of effort.

Give ’em a shot and let me know how it goes!

Now go out and run.

Wednesday Workout on Tired Legs

This hospital PT stuff is rough.

Hooray for scrubs and sneakers because if I had to wear real clothes and shoes and do all this stuff, I’d be in big trouble come Chicago in three weeks.

Hooray for scrubs!

Hooray for scrubs!

But my legs are still getting adjusted to 8 hours days on my little feet. I don’t sit for most of the day, rather, I stand around quite a bit. Walking I can do but standing? Ow. My legs have felt tight and tired for every one days since I started at the hospital.

Me + my foam roller = BFFs.

Me + my foam roller = BFFs.

So I’ve been foam rolling a lot and putting my feet up whenever possible because this week started back on training for Chicago.

When trying to maintain speed, it’s a good idea to do speedy workouts. One of my favorites ends up totaling 6 miles but feels like more. Here’s how it goes:

  • 2.25 mile warm-up
  • Form drills (high knees, butt kicks, hip openers)
  • 5 x 400m sprints on the track, 200m jogging rest in between
  • 2.25 mile comfortable pace home

This run is a great reminder of what speed I’m capable of running. I aim to have my 400s under 90 seconds. I succeed most of the time except for #2 when I completely lost my focus because I thought I was going to hit a squirrel.

Dear Mr. Squirrel, The track is no place for you to be wandering. You might get run over by a sleepy runner. xo Abby

Dear Mr. Squirrel,
The track is no place for you to be wandering. You might get run over by a sleepy runner.
xo
Abby

The other thing I like about this workout is that my run home pace is always close to race pace and feels effortless! It’s amazing what a little perspective, warm-up, and pushing crazy-fast will do to make your race pace feel easy.

A good reminder that I can do it for 13.1 miles, no problemo.

Don’t hate on the speed workouts. They keep you in tip-top shape and fast for your next race! It’s not always about lots of miles, but the quality of those miles.

What was your Wednesday Workout? Tell me all about it!

Now go out and run.

Perfection

Some workouts just don’t happened as planned. I switched up to an afternoon run the other day so that I could spin in the morning as well and ended up running on a snow-dusted track as a consequence.

This is obviously not the track, but Central Park. The track was similarly dusted but not nearly as beautiful as the Park.

This is obviously not the track, but Central Park. The track was similarly dusted but not nearly as beautiful as the Park.

It was a little slick around one of the corners and I had to slow down a little bit as I made my way around said curve 12 times during my 3 1-mile repeats. I had to slow down. And then run straight into a headwind that further slowed me down.

Perfect conditions for speed work? Nope. I think I’ll live.

Yesterday I had an eye doctor appointment (new specs!) and so I had to run after class instead. Late night running is not my favorite.

I'm more of a sunrise kinda runner. I like it getting brighter as the miles roll on, not darker.

I’m more of a sunrise kinda runner. I like it getting brighter as the miles roll on, not darker.

Again, the world will not end because I only got 4 dark miles instead of 6 sunny ones.

How often do we get perfect conditions, though? If I decided not to run every time it was below 50°F, above 80°F, raining, snowing, windy, or just crowded in the Park, I’d only be able to run about 30% of the year.

Runners! Runners! Everywhere runners!

Runners! Runners! Everywhere runners!

Does it reeeeally matter what the conditions are? Not really.

If I’m working hard and running at my maximum speed for the rest of that one mile, the 60 meters of slick-ish stuff isn’t going to matter. If I had bagged my workout entirely and waited for a perfect day, now THAT would make a HUUUUUUGE difference in my training.

Waiting for the perfect day, the perfect race, the perfect conditions will leave you doing one thing: waiting. I say, go out and run!

Run in the rain.

Run in the snow.

Run in the heat.

Do it all safely, please, but if you CAN run, RUN.

My plan exactly after class tonight.

My plan exactly after class tonight.

Endure the crappy runs, enjoy the amazing runs.

Now go out and run!

Wednesday Workouts

I love Wednesdays.

First, they are my Thursdays since I don’t have class on Fridays, so HOORAY! It’s almost “Friday”!

Second, I don’t have class til the afternoon on Wednesdays and it’s the perfect morning for me to lazy around in my PJs and catch up on homework or whatever before I run at whatevertimeIwant o’clock.

Skinny mini Abby.

I prefer PJs until about noon.

Most of my Wednesdays are cluttered with doctors appointments, work, annoying phone calls to insurance companies/school offices, and other grown-up type tasks. But when I get a Wednesday morning all to myself, I am a pig in, well…you know.

images

Pretty much me this morning.

Today’s workout will be my first official speed workout since my second surgery on October 5th. Since my surgeries were both operations on my abdomen, I have to wait the requisite 3 months til I am allowed to lift more than 20 pounds. Hence, why my husband had to carry our beautiful tree all my himself.

photo (2)

Lies. He has never, ever let me help him carry our tree home. Even when it was 50% larger than the one we bought this year. Isn’t it preeeeetty?

But they said I could start doing speed work in two months if I didn’t feel any pulling or pain in my abdomen.

Woohoo!

Today’s workout will be shorter on the repetition side since I’m not exactly in the best of running shape. But these sprints are good for anyone at any time since you push that VO2 max and make your body stronger whenever you do anaerobic workouts (speed work).

  • 2 mile warm up
  • 6-8 x 400 meters (one lap on the track), all-out.
  • 1 mile recovery shake-out
Yay for track workouts!!!!!

It will not be sunny and warm on the track today, but that’s cool. Git ‘er done!

Whenever doing speed work, it’s important to warm up beforehand so that your pre-capillary sphincters near your peripheral limbs open up and increase blood flow to your muscles. Blood flow = oxygen = food for muscles. Otherwise, you will tire out MUCH faster and fail to reach your potential in the workout.

I know, I’m blinding you with science. Don’t you feel smarter already?

I want to give myself a good workout, but also the freedom to cut it at 6 repeats since it’s my first day back. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get every.single.repeat. done that day. It’s not worth the energy to feel guilty about a workout.

Guilt? About a workout? That’s stupid. Yes, stupid. Not “silly”. Stupid.

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BOOM.

I also like to shake it out afterwards. No real science there, it just feels good.

What’s your workout today? Are you headed to the track like me or are you kickin’ it treadmill-style on this fine Hump Day? Have you ever done a 400m x _______ workout? Killer! See you on the track.

Now go out and run!