track workout

Tip of the Week: Make the Road Your Track

Speed training (or interval training) is high-intensity training sessions that improve your running efficiency and will help shave minutes off your race times. There are so many benefits to speed training. And you don't need a track to do speed training. Simply pick minute intervals or mark off .25 miles or .5 miles on a road or sidewalk. Some of our favorite workouts are: 1 min, 2 min, 3 min, 3 min, 2 min, 1 min (with same recovery time), 8x400 meters (.25 mile) and 5x800 meters (.5 mile). Make any road your track!

How do speed workouts improve your running?

 1. Build Strength - Speed work gets fast-twitch muscle fibers firing, and recruits more muscles than slow runs do.

2. Faster Feet - When you run at a fast pace, your feet turn over at a more rapid rate. With enough practice, this quicker cadence becomes more natural, which means you'll need less effort to move faster on any run.

3. Improve Stamina - Speed sessions help maximize your aerobic capacity. When you hit a fast pace, you force the heart to pump oxygen through the body at a quicker rate. Over time, that makes your heart stronger, so it can deliver more oxygen to the muscles, and helps your muscles use oxygen more efficiently.

4. Run Stronger and Longer - By sustaining a comfortably hard effort, you condition your body to hold a faster pace for longer before lactic acid—the waste produced when the body burns glucose—starts accumulating. That helps stave off the burning sensation that's so often linked with running hard.

5. Make the Joy of Running Last - Even if you don't care about getting fast, you'll enjoy the post track euphoria and the fitness gains that go along with speed work. When you're fitter, you can cover the same miles with less effort and bust through plateaus.

FunDay Friday Workout - Intervals













You don't need a track to get a track workout in. No matter where you are, you can do your speed workout and get in the benefits of an interval workout. Repeat the workout below or mix and match the minutes, for example: 2 mins, 4 mins, 6 mins, 6 mins, 4 mins, 2 mins or 2 mins 2x, 4 mins 2x and 6 mins 2x.

Show us where you did your track workout on Twitter and Instagram. Tag your runs with #HotBirdRun. Have fun!


Run Happy

Running makes us happy. We ensure that we run happy because we’ve learned to adjust our runs to what is happening in our life. We’ve found that running helps us return to balance and find our happiness.

  • Overly stressed? Slow down and enjoy the view.
  • A little angry? Crank out a race-pace run.
  • Sad? Just get out there and run (or walk) for 20 minutes – your mood will change!

How do we run happy? Simple, we enjoy it and adjust our runs when necessary. We push ourselves during those 3-mile track workouts because, while not always fun, these workouts instill strength that brings a smile to our faces. However, we take time to enjoy runs as well. Jessica and I make it a point to have a friend run every now and again, where we don’t talk business; we simply catch up on our lives. We walk when we want and we try different routes. We aren’t afraid to run by ourselves and ask for a solo run every now again.

Our five ways to run happy:

  1. Look up and enjoy the view.
  2. Run with a friend.
  3. Slow down or speed up! Adjust your runs and expectation.
  4. Download new music.
  5. Pick a different route.

Fartlek Workouts

We encourage our clients to incorporate speed training into their training. This usually takes the form of intervals or repeats on a track. If you don't have a track near you, a fartlek workout is a great way to incorporate speed into your weekly training because they are flexible. The other added benefit of a fartlek workout is that it prepares your for the uneven paces of a race. Think about it - you run fast to pass people, you slow down if you are behind a pack of runners, you might have to speed up to get over to the water, you slow down on a hill or around a corner. A runner who is able to adjust their pace and respond to mid-race surges will run faster and hit their goals.

What is a Fartlek?

A Fartlek (swedish for “speed play”) is speeding up and slowing down multiple times during a run. Run for about 40 minutes with 20 dedicated to speeding up and slowing down. Pick objects head of you - the next lamp post or building. Be sure to warm up for about 1 mile or 10 minutes and cool down for about the same after your fartlek workout. You can customize fartleks to how you feel. If you feel tired, reduce the number of fast repeats you run and take more time to recover. If you feel great, run the sprints hard and reduce the recovery (jogging) time.

Structured Fartlek

While the fartlek’s popularity is due to its flexibility, many coaches and clients like a more structured approach - this mimics more of a track workout. For example, a structured fartlek might be a pyramid workout (2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2 with 2:30 recovery between each): 10 minute warm up, 2 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 3 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 4 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 4 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 3 minutes hard, 2:30 easy, 2 minutes hard and a 10 minute cool down. This is a great workout to do if you don't have access to a track. 

Incorporate fartleks into your weekly training as your interval or speed day. Perform this once a week or more if your coach prescribes it. Be careful not to add in too much speed all at once. These workouts are designed to tax your muscles and your nervous system so be sure to recover with an off day or an easy day immediately after a fartlek workout.

Friday Fun at the Track!

We hit the track this morning with our client (and friend!), Jaema. It was kinda rainy and it was 7am. What happened? We kicked some butt! It was Jaema's first time running an interval set on the track. She's training for lululemon's SeaWheeze Half Marathon in August. We chose this track workout based on where she's at with her training.

Track workouts are a great way to increase your speed, learn proper pacing and build stamina. Today we did a pyramid set: 400, 800, 1200, 800, 400. We aimed for consistent splits. A pyramid track workout is a great way to test your ability to run on tired legs and figure out your pacing for different distances.

Remember, always warm up and cool down with at least a mile. Perform a few dynamic stretches before running your track workout and finish up with some static stretches and a few core exercises.



How to Add Speed to your Training

Adding a speed workout is one of the most effective ways to drop time off your race pace.  Speed workouts are often performed on a track – where distance is easily measured and it’s flat, consistent and unrelenting. If you can't get to a track, don't fear! You can still get a butt kickin’ speed workout in even if you don't have a track nearby.

One of our favorite high intensity speed workouts, the speed pyramid, requires only a watch and a route free of stoplights and crosswalks to complete.  Unlike your typical track workout, this type of speed pyramid is a high intensity, fast paced interval workout based on time rather distance.  For this workout, gradually increase set amounts of time run at a high intensity speed increases while maintaining the same level of aerobic output throughout each of the speed intervals.  Follow each fast paced speed burst with a recovery time equal to the high intensity interval you just completed. 

We recommend the following pyramid set for speed newbies: 15, 30, 45, 45, 30, 15.  Run hard for 15 seconds, followed by slowly jogging for 15 seconds; run hard for 30, slow jog for 30; run hard for 45 seconds, slow jog for 45 seconds, etc. Repeat this set 2x. Add in 1-2 mile warm up jog and 1 mile cool down.

You don't need to know your 400 meter or 800 meter pace for the pyramid set. Instead, we recommend that you go by the perceived exertion (PE) scale. Ultimately, you want to learn how to feel your pace and know when you are going too fast and when to speed things up. Here is a how we describe the PE scale to our clients.

  • Level 1: I'm reading on the couch (no exertion)
  • Level 2: Walking slowly, leisurely; I'm comfortable and could maintain this pace all day long
  • Level 3: Fast walk; I'm still comfortable, but am breathing a bit harder and starting to sweat
  • Level 4: Slow Jog; I'm sweating, but feel good and can carry on a conversation easily, consciously slowling myself down until it feels slowwwwww
  • Level 5: Jogging; I'm just above comfortable, sweating but still talking in full sentences (normal exertion)
  • Level 6: Running; I can still talk, but I wouldn't call it a conversation and I have to take a breath every 4 to 5 words (hard exertion)
  • Level 7: Fast Running; I can get a few words out here and there, but I don't really want to and they sound more like grunts - can maintain same pace for 20 minutes continuously
  • Level 8: Sprint; I can't talk an only keep this pace for a short time period - at the end of a race (Very hard exertion)
  • Level 9: All Out Sprint; I can't maintain this pace for more than a few seconds (extremely hard exertion).
  • Level 10: I'm running for my life (Maximum exertion).

Aim to run your speed sets at a level 7. Your goal is consistency throughout the entire workout.  Maintain the same exertion level throughout each individual speed interval while still being able to jog slowly at the end of each speed set without needing to stop and walk. If you feel as if you have to stop and catch your breath, you ran faster than your body could handle. Gradually begin increasing the time of the pyramid sets (example 1: 20, 40, 60, 60, 40, 20) (example 2: 30, 60, 90, 90, 60, 30).

You will be a speed demon in no time!