Track workouts are an excellent way to supplement any training program. Whether you are lifting weights or training for your next marathon a track workout, like the one described below, can be an excellent form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT workouts are awesome for elevating your metabolism both during and for a prolonged period of time after the workout is completed. It is likely that this 20 minute workout will blast more calories throughout the day than a typical 60 minute distance run. For more information and other benefits on HIIT check out this presentation from the American College of Sports Medicine. This workout is awesomely efficient as well, you will get incredible health and fitness benefits packed into a mere 20 minutes.
The workout consists of running repeat 400 meter dashes. This means repeatedly running 400 meter intervals at an uncomfortably fast pace (if you can talk while running then increase your pace until you can no longer hold a conversation). 400m is exactly one lap around any standard track. The goal of this workout is to exert a high level of energy for a short time then take a break and repeat. The workout as described is for intermediate to advanced runners but can be modified easily for any fitness level.
1) Warm Up
Always begin with an adequate warm up to get you muscles loose. I would recommend about 15 minutes of light physical activity, Runners Connect has a good dynamic warm up routine that I recommend.
Run ten 400m laps on two minute intervals. Start your clock and begin running a lap, you will begin a new lap every two minutes on the two minute mark. You will complete a total of ten laps in the 20 minutes, one lap every two minutes. This is intended to be a high intensity workout so be sure to run at a fast pace, your one mile pace is a good reference if you do not know where to start (for example if you run 1 mile as fast as you can at a 6:00 minute pace then running each lap in 90 seconds would be a good starting point). The amount of time between finishing the lap and the full two minutes elapsing is your break. A good target is to run the lap in 75 to 90 seconds and rest for 45-30 seconds. If you you are not resting for at least 25% percent of the interval then increase the interval time to 3 or 4 minutes depending on your current speed and fitness level.
3) Cool Down and Stretch
After the workout be sure to properly cool down and stretch. I recommend jogging lightly for two laps then stretching your whole body for at least ten minutes.
This workout can be challenging but is extremely rewarding and an excellent workout to improve your speed for longer distance running. Good luck and comment below on how you enjoyed the workout!