Beat boredom, improve speed and build strength with a few turns around the track.
"They'll help you learn your pace, which is super important for half marathons and even more important for marathons," says John Honerkamp, expert coach with the New York Road Runners.
Don't lace up and head to the nearest track just yet. Without the proper progression and knowledge, you could hurt yourself and risk ruining the rest of your running season. Use these tips to stay safe and get the most of your track workouts.
1. Find a Track
You can't run on a track until you find one close by.
Joe McConkey, coach at Boston Running Center, suggests turning to Google Earth to zoom around three square miles that surround you—or more if you are in a less populated area.
Use the satellite view to locate tracks and then call to see if you can access them. High schools or colleges that have a track program would be the first place to check, McConkey says.
If you can't get access, consider joining a running club, many of which have relationships with local schools to gain access for weekly workouts.
2. Follow Proper Etiquette
Use proper etiquette as you glide around the track. Remember these three rules.
Rule#1: If you're just jogging or warming up, it's best to stay out of lane one, McConkey says.
Rule#2: Always look in both directions when crossing the track.
Rule#3: Look for signage that indicates a switch in running directions. This is more popular for indoor tracks than outdoor ones, but it's important you're running in the correct direction.
3. Know the Terminology
Track: If someone behind you says "track" it means get out of lane one. People will only say this if you're walking or jogging slowly—which you shouldn't do in lane one to begin with—and they're coming up behind you. Step to the middle to let them go around you.
Inner lane: This is another term for lane one. It's the easiest lane to track your pace and where most folks will do their workout, says McConkey.
If you're not working out or paying attention to pace, head to another lane.