Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Track Running for Dummies

First off I'll offer up that I don't go to Master's swim practice because I have no idea what to do and I don't want to look like an idiot.

So, i write this trying to help others as well as release a bit of aggravation.  Running track at an early age (I think it was a form of babysitting for my Mom), admittedly, I am a track practice snob, but accept people don't have the same attitude towards it that I do.  Basically there was a coach watching nearly everything going on for every interval I did from age 6 - 18, created a serious sense of urgency and regimen that should be followed.  This is not for everyone I know, but there is a purpose for doing track workouts and that is to get faster so I've come up with a few guidelines (gripes) to help steer people to a better result for themselves, and others at the track.  It is such a powerful tool to get faster if taken seriously.

#1 Drills - Pay attention to the coach when they tell you how to perform them.  There are specific reasons for them to help with form in the long run.  Faster running starts with proper running, and it helps reduce injury too!

#2 Timing - Wear a watch.  If you pay a ton for a private coach, then fine, your coach is responsible for timing, but at a large group workout, with many people in your speed range, it is easy to think someone else will have one.  What happens though?  Nobody brings one or the person who always has one gets fed up with it.  Get a $20-30 Timex that lasts forever and be done with it.

#3 Workout Knowledge - This goes along with Timing in that each person should make an attempt to know the workout before showing up.  Don't rely on others in the group to remember it.

#4 Track etiquette - For the most part everyone gets the picture pretty quick, or others are quick to help them out, but you don't "jog" in lane 1 and if you do run there if you hear "TRACK!" that means, "please get out of my way" in the nicest form.  They don't mean to yell or sound angry, but their heart rates are probably up around 180 bpm and can hardly spare much more effort than that.

#5 Chatter - For warm-ups, stretching, drills, and rest sessions, talk all you want as long as you are getting what you need done.  For intervals, for the most part, if you are talking, then you aren't running fast enough and you should move up a group.  For longer intervals or training runs that don't take you up to VO2 someone might be able to get some good conversation in, that's why they call it conversational pace, but for track practice you should be pushing yourself to move that pace faster so you can feel what a pace past your comfort level is like.

#6 Group Mob - My club is fairly large and we bring a lot of people to the track for our practices.  Its not much of a problem for me, but I'm sure the other groups and individuals see it as a nuisance.  When doing intervals or drills, try to keep to 2 people widths.  All too often you see 3-5 people across when larger groups work out.  Its a bit of a problem for others to work out and avoid this mob, especially adding a HUGE chunk around a corner to pass.

#7 Clothes - This is advice purely for comfort.  "Cotton kills" was what my Dad always told us when working out in the cold.  This holds true for just feeling good in the SF weather.  When its 50 degrees out, you will still sweat, and cotton holds that moisture too well.  Your clothes stick to your body, and any warming capabilities are now lost.  Invest in some basic "Tech" t-shirts and proper running shorts or tights.  There is no reason to add negative aspects to going to track and uncomfortable clothes makes it miserable and adds to the chaffing dangers.

I guess the bright side is that I set out on this trying to come up with a top 10 list.  Maybe my perception is worse than reality and I have to lighten up.  Don't get me wrong though, I love seeing so many people out trying to add something positive to their lives and I always try to support that.  Having the fattest population in the world is not a race worth winning.  Good luck to everyone and I hope this was educational for a few.  Nobody wants to look stupid out on the track and it is a great, safe place to improve running, just stay out of lane 1;)
Just for a laugh - long time ago, me in the red.

1 comment:

  1. I went to homecoming with that guy in the red tank top! After reading this article, I have a feeling that if we went running together, you would want to kill me within the first five minutes!