speed work track workout

Back to the Track

Last night I had my first speed workout of marathon training. The base building portion of training is over and now it’s time to incorporate “something of substance” workouts. The Hansons training program incorporates speed workouts on Tuesdays for the next five weeks. Treadmill Tuesday has become Track Tuesday! The workout they had on tap for my first week was 12 x 400m with a 400m recovery jog in between each interval. This was pretty daunting for me. It was the longest track workout I have ever done and I hadn’t actually done a track workout in ages.

I actually got so anxious about the workout that I ended up asking Barry to come along for moral support. He sat and laid in the stands while I did my workout and kept me company. I started out with a one mile warm up before I got down to business. It was nice and cool with low humidity outside, which is unusual for July. There was a strong breeze, too, which I enjoyed (except for the headwind on the back stretch of the track). I was going to break the workout down into 3 sets of 4, but once I got started I decided to just chunk it in half.

My goal pace for the 400m repeats was 2:15, which came straight out of the Hansons book and was based on my marathon goal and my 5K time. The Hansons explain that most training programs have you do intervals at 100% VO2max. However, their paces are based on 80-95% VO2max in order to maximize the physiological gains they’re aiming for. Here’s how the first 6 repeats broke down:

1- 2:16      4- 2:13

2- 2:14      5- 2:12

3- 2:14      6- 2:13

My legs were definitely getting more tired with each interval, but I was recovering well after each one. With that I headed into the second set of 6. Right after interval number 7 (or number 1 of set 2) I needed to use the restroom. There’s a building with restrooms right next to the track, but the women’s was locked. The men’s was unlocked, though, and no one was in there so I used the men’s instead! It was clean, at least 🙂

7- 2:13      10- 2:11

8- 2:11      11- 2:13

9- 2:09      12- 2:14

I started going a bit too fast on these. I would go out too hard during the first 200m and have to slow it down during the second half. The Hansons advise sticking to the prescribed pace and warn that doing speed workouts too fast can lead to injury. I think I did alright, though. After the second set of 6 I went right into my cool down mile.

speed work track workout

This workout really intimidated me, as it was 8 miles total including the warm up, cool down, and recovery portions. I think there was as much to gain mentally as there was physically with this workout, as with most speed workouts. The Hansons say speed workouts require you to put your game face on, and I certainly did that last night. I’m glad today is a rest day, though, because my legs are sore and tired (especially my calves). Tomorrow I have my first tempo run!

When was the last time you did intervals on the track or a speed workout?
What types of workouts intimidate you the most?


16 thoughts on “Back to the Track”

  1. Congrats on getting your first track workout done for this training cycle! Ho much recovery did you take? 400? I kind of miss the track now and want to go!

    1. Thanks! I breathed a sigh of relief to have survived the first one. I did take 400m rest in between each interval. Each week the interval will increase in length, but the recovery will stay at 400. That way you end up doing more work with less recovery. Fun, no? 🙂

  2. Awesome job Meagan!! You’re a week ahead of me on the training, and I have started to worry about the next phase. Keep up the good work and keep the posts coming! You’re a great inspiration.

    1. It was really helpful to have a recovery distance that was the same as the interval, especially for my first track workout. From here on out my intervals will get longer, but the recovery will stay at 400m throughout (I think).

  3. Wiwza 12 400s?! That’s awesome! I’ve been running 800s and ladders. It’s tough. I go between track and treadmill for my speed sessions depending on my son and the weather. Way to knock out those 400!!!

    1. I like ladder workouts, because you’re constantly mixing it up throughout the workout. I’ve never done a speed workout on the treadmill. I’m afraid of falling off!

  4. I’m so excited that you’re following the Hanson Method! Now I can (annoyingly) reminisce about all the runs you’re doing (I did it last year)!. Like this one. I believe I did it on a treadmill because Anchorage was still covered in snow, and it was SO miserable. Fortunately, I took them outside from then on and they all went great! It’s a great feeling, completing a workout like that (8 miles!) at the end of a 6-day running week. Anyway, enough about me, good luck!

    1. I’d love to hear about how you felt going through some of these workouts as I write about them. I didn’t start reading your blog until after your marathon, so I totally missed your training 😦

      Thank you for pointing out that my track workout was at the end of 6 days of running. I knew that from reading the book, but luckily forgot about it on the day of the workout. It probably would have freaked me out!

  5. Sounds like it went really well!
    I’m most intimidated by tempo runs. Holding a fast pace for a long time scares me. It’s why I’d rather run a marathon than a 5k 🙂

  6. Rock on with your bad self. My goodness! That’s an amazing workout! It’s such a great thing (speed workouts – repeats at a certain pace) to figure out what your pace feels like and know you can maintain it and hit it consistently.

    1. Haha, thanks! You definitely start to get into a groove the more repeats you do. I wish I had a group like the TRF to do track workouts with, though!

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