Before you lace 'em up and break out the stop watch, make sure you're not making these common mistakes.
You're not running in lane 1 for speed work.1 of 11
Track distances are calculated from the inside lane. If you run in any of the other lanes, you'll travel a farther distance. For example, if you run four laps in lane 4 versus lane 1, you've added an extra 100 meters. Stick to the inside lane when your time matters.
You're dawdling in lane 1.2 of 11
No matter your speed, if you're running an interval workout, you should try to stick to the inside lane. However, if you're jogging between repeats, warming up or cooling down, it's common courtesy to move to an outer lane.
You don't know the rules of passing.3 of 11
If you're cranking out repeats and approach a slower runner, you should pass on the left (just like on a highway). As you come up behind the slower runner, say, "track" or "on your left." And if someone yells that to you, step to your right to give him or her space.
You're not running the distance you planned.4 of 11
Rarely, you'll find an older, imperial length track that is 440 yards long and exactly four laps to a mile. However, most modern tracks are based on the metric system, meaning each lane is 400 meters long. When it comes to common track workouts (e.g. 400-meter or 800-meter repeats) you'll be following the metric system. But if you want to run a 1 or 2-mile time trial, things get a little tricky. Running four laps on a metric length track will be 9 meters, or 31 feet short of a full mile. That's not a huge discrepancy, but if you're looking to be precise, every step matters! Be on the look out for the marking that designates a full mile.
You're running in the wrong direction.5 of 11
Unless otherwise stated, most tracks are run in a counterclockwise direction. You should always be turning left.
You're jumping into speed work without a proper warm up.6 of 11
Running fast without warming up your muscles is a recipe for disaster (and injury). Before you start any track work, log at least a mile or two of easy running.
You're taking too much or too little recovery time.7 of 11
An extra minute here or there won't matter, right? Wrong. If your training plan says to run 12 x 400 meters with two minutes of rest, that's what you should do. A few seconds won't matter, but drastically changing the rest period (say, from 2 minutes to 5 minutes) will alter the benefits you receive from the workout.
You're running the wrong type of workout.8 of 11
Most runners will benefit from faster running, but make sure your speed workouts have a purpose. If your goal is to run a fast marathon, your bread and butter workouts should probably be tempos, not short 100-meter sprints.
You're doing the same workout, week after week.9 of 11
If you never change your workout, you'll never see fitness gains. As you progress in your training, shorten the rest, increase the number of repeats or aim to run faster.
For example, if you begin your training cycle running 3 x 1-mile repeats with a half-mile recovery jog, you can either increase the number of repeats to four, cut the rest to quarter-mile, or run each mile a bit quicker.
You're not paying attention to your surroundings.10 of 11
Unlike a running path or trail, there are often multiple sports and workouts happening inside a track complex. Skip the headphones and be on the lookout for other runners and wayward balls. A collision isn't how you want to end your workout.