Your Guide to Track Workouts


Runner World's definitive guide to track vernacular

Intervals: Technically, intervals refers to the time you spend recovering between speed segments. But the term commonly refers to track workouts in general, or fast bouts of running.

Recovery: Walking or easy jogging between faster-paced segments. Recovery lets your heart rate return to the point where you're ready to run fast again, and helps you regain the energy you'll need for the next burst of speed.

Re peats: The fast segments of running that are repeated during a workout, with recovery in between. If you're training for a marathon, you might run 1000-meter repeats six times. For shorter races, like 5-Ks, you might do shorter repeats, of 400 meters or so, at your goal race pace.

Split: The time it takes to complete any defined distance. If you're running 800 meters, or two laps, you might check your split after the first lap to shoot for an even pace.

Strides: Short bursts of speed that increase heart rate and leg turnover. They get your legs ready to run hard. Strides are run near 90 percent of maximum effort for 20 seconds at a time with easy jogging in between.

Circular Logic

Six ways it pays to train in a higher gear

YOU may not have audacious racing goals, but there are still plenty of reasons. to keep a standing date with speed, says exercise physiologist Marius Maianu. He cites these key benefits.

Running a mile burns about 100 calories, but the faster you cover the distance, the sooner you'll get the burn. An added bonus: High-intensity training keeps your metabolism revved (and calories incinerating) even after the workout is over.

Speedwork gets fast-twitch muscle fibers firing, and recruits more muscles than slow runs do. As you lengthen your stride to sprint, you engage your glutes, hip flexors, and extensors. This improves range of motion and helps alleviate tightness.

When you're holding a swift pace, your feet turn over at a more rapid rate. So with enough practice, this quicker cadence becomes more natural, which means you'll need less effort to move faster on any run.

Speed sessions help maximize your aerobic capacity. When you hit a fast pace, you force the heart to pump oxygen through the body at a quicker rate. Over time, that makes your heart stronger, so it can deliver more oxygen to the muscles, and helps your muscles use oxygen more efficiently

By sustaining a comfortably hard effort, you condition your body to hold a faster pace for longer before lactic acid—the waste produced when the body burns glucose—starts accumulating. That helps stave off the burning sensation that's so often linked with running hard.

Even if you don't care about getting fast, you'll enjoy reaping the fitness gains that go along with speedwork. When you're fitter, you can cover the same miles with less effort and bust through plateaus.

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