Lacking a Track
Track workouts have become a staple for runners of all ages and abilities. Access to quality track facilities, however, can be a challenge with fewer and fewer venues being open to the public. Don't fear, though: If you're lacking a track for your speed workouts, there are two excellent viable alternatives.
1. Rails to Trails, The "Track" of the Future
As open track time has become increasingly scarce, runners looking to hone their speed are increasingly looking to America's rapidly expanding network of rails to trail paths and greenways (there are more than 125,000 miles of them as of 2014) for their interval workouts. Most of the newer greenway paths and rails to trail pathways are accurately marked in miles or meters, and virtually all are accessible for any type of harder workout, such as a speed session. The undulating nature of bike paths will often make your interval times a touch slower than they would be on the track, but all in all, bike paths are an excellent alternative to the oval.
2. Hills for Power and Speed
As the late great New Zealand Olympic coach Arthur Lydiard said, "hills are nature's weight workout and the best developer of speed." In every way, hills are an outstanding alternative to the track. And while the tempos executed on hills will be undoubtedly slower than they would be on a track, the benefits of gained plantar and dorsiflexion, as well as overall lift and power, are in many ways more readily seen through hill workouts than the track.
As runners, we have to make the best of every resource we are given. For those lacking ideal training venues day to day, make the most of your race preparation with some creativity. Train aggressively and intelligently.
Find your next race.