by Jessica Green
Whether you have access to a track should not determine whether you are able to complete your track workouts during marathon training. Certain workouts are designated for the track because a track provides precise, quarter-mile distance markers and a flat surface perfect for uninterrupted running and accurate feedback about your pace and times. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic for a lot of people to get to a track once a week for their track workouts. For some, it’s because a track is not nearby, and, for others, it’s because the thought of running around a track is very unappealing (to the latter, I recommend training in a group at the track - it's much more motivating).
Whoever you are, if you can’t get to a track, try these two alternatives to the track to get the most of out of your designated "track workouts."
(1) Find a flat pedestrian path or trail with quarter-mile markers. Most track workouts can be broken down into quarter-mile distances such as 400s, 800s, 1200, 1600s, etc. Many cities have running paths with distance markers. With the distances all marked out, all you need is a timer to track your workouts. If your city doesn’t have a path with distances marked out, don’t be afraid to bring some chalk and make your own during your warm up.
(2) Set up your GPS watch to auto lap at .25 miles rather than 1-mile. This works well when you can’t find any distance markers. Plus, it provides you with your quarter-mile splits during longer speed intervals. This is important because it allows you to monitor whether you are running at a consistent pace or starting out slow and finishing fast or vice versa.