What the track has taught me….

I didn’t used to particularly enjoy track sessions – I felt like I could never hit the prescribed pace and my times seemed to trail off interval after interval, and then one day, as the sunset at the end of my squeezed in track session I realized that the track had grown on me. At some point we had become friends.

Sunset at the track

Sunset at the track

 

The track had taught me a lot even if I wasn’t hitting every prescribed split, and had earned my respect along the way. So here are a few of the lessons…..

Focus:

Whatever workout I am running on the track – it requires mental and physical focus for the duration of each interval, repeat after repeat. On the sixth mile repeat, when my legs are tired it can be easy for my mind to wander. Staying focused is key and is obviously transferable off the track.

Mental Strength:

With a challenging workout on the schedule it can be easy to write myself off before I even start. Giving my best to a workout that I don’t know if I am capable of is scary, but whether I make the prescribed splits or not I know that the act of trying, and effort put forth have benefited me both mentally and physically.  Again obviously transferable to race day.

The Mental Physical connection – keep smiling!:

My early experience on the track was that after three or four repeats my legs would feel trashed and the paces started to slow. I assumed it was lactic acid or general muscle weakness, until I read about this study. I hope you are able to read it, but the summary of the summary is that your muscle’s physical fatigue limits are directly influenced by using personally relevant selected “mantras”. I have tried it and smiling while telling myself that “I am feeling strong” really makes a difference.

Intervals break up a run:

If nothing else a session on the track can be a super sneaky way to get some decent mileage in. After warmup and cooldown ( my personal plan is usually a 20 minutes route to and from the track that way there is no temptation to skip either!) the prescribed number of intervals with recoveries in between these sessions can easily hit 13 miles – and it totally doesn’t feel like it!

So there you have it, the track and I are friends!

What about you? I’d love to know do you incorporate track sessions into your schedule? Do you have a love-hate relationship with the track or love-love? Any lessons it has taught you?

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