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How to Approach Track Workouts to Transform your Training

Run

, by Fabienne Lang

Photography courtesy of: Brooks Running

Incorporating track workouts into your running routine can transform your training – but it’s hard to know where to start if you were never on a track team or it’s been a while. Three Game Changers coaches are here to help demystify the track workout.

Are you ready to take your running game to the next level? Whether you're a seasoned athlete or just starting out, incorporating track workouts into your training routine can be a game-changer. But with so many options and considerations it’s hard to know where to start.

We’ve teamed up with Brooks Running to explore the benefits of track training and provide expert tips and specific workouts from three incredible Game Changers coaches: Almetria Turner, Theneshia Glaze-Culpepper (Coach T), and Tiffany Martin, who are simultaneously paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse running community. 

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Unveiling the Game Changers 

Before we dive into the world of track workouts, let's introduce the running masterminds: Almetria Turner, Theneshia Glaze, and Tiffany Martin. 

These three coaches are part of the Game Changers program, spearheaded by Vanessa C. Peralta-Mitchell, aiming to bring in more Women of Color as Certified Run Coaches to redefine who is seen as experts and leaders in the running industry. The program, supported by Brooks Running, is now represented across 27 states with all members identifying as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous,and other People of Color). Their main mission is growing the number of Women of Color seen as experts and leaders in the run industry. 

Photography courtesy of: Brooks Running

With their wealth of knowledge and expertise, the three Game Changer coaches we’re talking to today are here to help you unlock your full potential on the track. 

Almetria Turner: A Multi-Hyphenate Wellness DisruptHER, Doula, and Health Equity Advocate, Almetria is certified in various disciplines, including distance run coaching and track and field coaching. She's the owner of Fit and Finally Free, RunHer Performance, and Roots and River Wellness, empowering individuals to lead healthier lifestyles. 

Theneshia Glaze-Culpepper (Coach T): Coach T, as she's fondly known, is a RRCA certified run coach, Cross-Country coach, and a Level 1 USA Track & Field Coach. She brings her passion as an official pacer and run coach to the table, helping runners achieve their goals.

Tiffany Martin: With over 35 years of running experience, Tiffany is a certified USATF and NFHS Track and Field and Cross-Country Coach. As a mentor coach for Game Changers, she's dedicated to creating inclusive and equitable experiences for all runners. 

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Why Track Workouts? 

Track workouts offer a myriad of benefits, from improving speed and strength to enhancing running efficiency and form. Almetria emphasizes that “track workouts can be adapted to fit all levels of running, plus it gives runners an opportunity to change up their scenery, route, running surface and type of workouts.”

An overview of a 400m running track. Imagery by: Sepia100

By adding these workouts to your training you become “a stronger runner (physically and mentally), faster, and have an opportunity to improve upon your running stride and become a more efficient runner,” highlights Coach T. While Tiffany stresses their versatility in enhancing “running performance by building strength, increasing speed, and adding diversity to run training.”

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Tips for Success 

Now that you're familiar with the coaches, let's delve into their expert tips for incorporating track workouts into your training regimen. 

Almetria's Tips: 

  1. Join a Running Club: If you're new to track workouts, consider joining a local running club for guidance and camaraderie. “Oftentimes, they're fun, free and it's a great opportunity to learn track lingo, get faster and make new runner friends,” she explains.

  2. Hire a Coach: For personalized guidance and accountability, plus if you’re aiming for a PR race, enlist the help of a certified run or track coach aligned with your goals. “Check out their credentials, coaching style and philosophy, pricing and athlete testimonials to see if they align with you and budget,” she highlights.

You don't have to be a track star to benefit from track workouts.

Coach T's Tips: 

  1. Prioritize Warm-Up and Cool-Down: Always include adequate warm-up and cool-down sessions with track workouts (speedwork). “The primary goal is to reduce the possibility of injury,” she urges.

  2. Start Slow: Begin with a solid aerobic base before diving into track workouts, gradually increasing frequency and intensity over time. “For each workout, ensure adequate rest/recovery between sets and repetitions. Keep it simple and slowly progress the workouts,” she recommends.

Tiffany's Tips: 

  1. Start Small: “You don't have to be a track star to benefit from track workouts,” she explains. Start by integrating track warm-ups or cooldowns into your routine. 

  2. Experiment: Try different types of workouts, such as intervals or tempo runs, to discover what works best for you. 

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Workouts to Try 

Ready to hit the track? For most runners, track workouts are part of a broader training program. As such, you may want to think about incorporating one or two track sessions into your weekly training plan.

Here are some curated workouts from these expert coaches to kickstart your journey: 

Photography courtesy of: Brooks Running

Almetria's Workout: 

  • Warm-Up: 4x400m 

  • Dynamic Drills & Stretching: 5-10 minutes 

  • Main Set: 4x400m @5k pace + 200m recovery 

  • Cooldown: 4x400m 

  • Stretching & Recovery: 5 minutes static stretching, 10 minutes foam rolling 

Coach T's Workout: 

  • Basic Warm-Up: 10-15 minutes easy pace run; 4-5 dynamic exercises; 4-5 technique drills; 3-5 x 50m build-ups (walk back for recovery)

  • Repetitions: 3x400m @5-15% faster than 1-mile race pace 

  • Recovery: 1:2 ratio (e.g., if 400m takes 1:25, recovery is 2:50) between repetitions (recovery varies depending on the purpose of the workout - speed endurance, anaerobic capacity, etc.)

  • Cool-down: 10 minutes easy jog; 5-7 minutes post-run static stretching (i.e., hamstring, quads, glutes, piriformis) - holding at least 15 seconds each. 

  • Bonus: You can progress this over time by increasing the number of repetitions by 1 or 2 every two weeks.

Photography by: Thinapob

Tiffany's Workouts: 

Interval Workout: 

  • Warm-Up: 10-minute jog 

  • Dynamic Drills: Walk 20 meters for each drill. High kicks, hip openers, hip closers, high knees, A-skips, B-skips, butt kickers, grapevine

  • Main Set: Sprint for 30 seconds, recover for 2 minutes (repeat 6 times) 

  • Cooldown: 10-minute jog

1:1 Workout: 

  • Warm-Up: 10-minute jog 

  • Dynamic Drills: Walk 20 meters for each drill. High kicks, hip openers, hip closers, high knees, A-skips, B-skips, butt kickers, grapevine

  • Main Set: Sprint 200m, recover 200m (repeat 8 times) 

  • Cooldown: 10-minute jog 

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Your Journey Begins Here 

With the guidance of these expert coaches and the support of Brooks and the Game Changers network, you're equipped to embark on your track workout journey. Remember, track workouts are customizable to your fitness level and goals, so don't be afraid to tailor them to suit your needs. Follow Almetria, Coach T, and Tiffany on Strava for more insights and inspiration, and most importantly, have fun as you push yourself and unleash your full potential on the track!