A Track Training Routine for Runners

Is this your first time training on a running track? Let's take a look at a routine you can apply to start your session at peak performance!
A Track Training Routine for Runners

Last update: 13 September, 2021

A track is a perfect place to train. Not only does it have a surface that absorbs the impact of every step, but it’s also ideal for determining exact distances. To help you with this, today we’ll present a track training routine for runners.

While developing the following track running plan, we’ve taken amateur runners into account. In other words, we developed it bearing in mind those who already have some experience in running or similar sports, but don’t do it on a competitive level. If you’ve never trained on a track before, the information we’ve gathered today will be of interest to you.

Warming up

As with any type of physical activity, the first step is to warm up. The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare the muscles to better carry out the movements and thus reduce the risk of injury. You should never start running on a track without warming up first.

Harvard Health Publishing indicates that this stage should last at least 10 minutes and involve all the muscle groups that you’re training will involve. For reference, you can do the following:

  1. Start by walking two laps of the track at high speed.
  2. Upon completion, run 100 meters while lifting your knees as high as you can in the direction of your chest. Use your hand coordination to avoid losing your balance.
  3. Then, complete 100 meters with strides.
  4. When you finish, do 100 meters more, but with oscillating movements of your hips. Take them from one side to the other, accompanying them with your gaze.
  5. Now, go 100 meters with a lateral displacement. That is, with one of your sides pointing to the front of the track. Do this with your hands on your hips while maintaining cadence in your steps.
  6. Finally, do an extra 100 meters with a low-intensity jog and move your arms at various angles, horizontally, and vertically.

Keep in mind that the above is a general warm-up. Don’t confuse these steps with specific muscle stretches. You can stretch before or after your run, dedicating a couple of seconds to your calves, quads, hamstrings, abdomen, and shoulders.

A woman doing knee raises while training.
This warm-up doesn’t differ much from what you might do off the track, so frequent runners may already be familiar with it.

You may be interested in: Jogging and Running: What’s the Difference?

The track training routine

We’ve created this track training routine with runners who practice on a 400-meter length track in mind. However, if you’re running on a smaller one, you just have to adjust the distances.

If it’s your first time running on a track, we suggest you do 12 laps, which would allow you to do an average of 5 kilometers. Do these laps while taking into account the following:

  • Start with 25% of your capacity (considering 100% your average running speed, not the maximum you can give).
  • At 100-meter intervals, increase your speed by 25%. This way, you’ll be running at your maximum by the time you complete the first lap.
  • Always look ahead and change lanes throughout the turns if you feel uncomfortable. Ideally, on the straight stretches, you should stay in one lane.
  • Once you complete 12 laps, don’t stop suddenly. Rather, slow down little by little. You can use the rule of slowing down 25% during the last 300 meters.

Remember that these tips apply if this is your first time doing a track training routine for runners. By considering the above, you’ll become familiar with the surface of the terrain, its bouncing effect, and the inclination of the curves.

In the case that you’re a little more experienced, you can skip the rule of starting and finishing in power intervals. You probably want to train to decrease your time, so your priority will be to complete the course more efficiently.

Track training routine speed workout

The previous routine can be categorized as a classic workout. Now, we’ll focus on showing you how to carry out one where you’ll prioritize your speed.

To do this, you’ll use the old trick of interval training, also known as HIIT. Here’s how you can do it on the track:

  • Start by running 400 meters at your own pace. You can use the power interval rule or do it at whatever speed you feel most comfortable with.
  • Just as you complete the first lap, and for exactly 100 meters, do a sprint at 75-85% of the maximum energy you can give.
  • When you finish, reduce the intensity and run another 400 meters at your normal pace.
  • Again, upon completing a lap around the track, do another sprint near your maximum capacity for 100 meters.

After this interval, you’ll reduce your resting stretch by 100 meters. In other words, you’ll do 300 meters at normal intensity, then 100 meters of sprinting, then 200 at normal intensity, followed by 100 meters of sprinting, and then finish with 100 meters at your conventional pace. When you reach this last point, it’s time to recover for between 400 and 800 meters, depending on your conditions.

Keep in mind that this training accelerates your heart rate in a very short period of time. If you suffer from a heart condition. you should have a cardiac stress test done before considering including it in your routine. This type of sprint not only improves your speed, but also the ability of your muscles to respond efficiently within seconds.

An empty track.
Running tracks differ from asphalt and steep terrain, so they meet particular conditions for training.

Physical conditioning

If you add the two previous routines together, you’ll have done just over 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) in a single session. It’s likely, then, that you’ll want to complete it with other physical conditioning exercises that have a direct impact on your performance on the track.

We suggest continuing with the following:

  • Do stair circuits completing between 3 and 5 sets (this will depend on how many steps there are on the track). Keep in mind that a valid set is when you go up and down at a steady pace.
  • Complete 5 sets of 10-15 burpees each with 30-60 second rest intervals.
  • Return to the stairs, choose the first step and do lateral lunges (one foot only) to work your abductors and core. You can do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
  • Finish by doing isometric squats. Locate a wall and lean your back against it while forming a 90-degree angle with your quads. Hold the position for one minute.

These exercises will complement your track training routine. You can adjust the time, set, or repetition suggestions according to your level or choose just one or two if you’re already exhausted by this point.

Cooldown for a track training routine

While warming up is very important for your muscles to perform when you start, cooling down will release tension, relax them, and speed up your recovery time. Cooling down is the transition time from intense activity to rest. You can do this by doing one or two laps at a gentle walk.

Naturally, you should also complement your cooldown with specific stretches for each muscle group. You can do the same ones you did when you started, but make sure you don’t forget any muscles. When you finish doing this, you’ll have completed your first track training routine for runners!

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