The Track is a Special F*ckin Place
For the next 30 days I am attempting to write a brief article daily on health/wellness + assorted musings. It turns out writing is hard, and other responsibilities are present so the articles have become from a day to days BUT we keep going . Today is Day 8.
I know people can be intimidated by running but tracks, and parks in general, have a certain ~air~ to them. As long as you follow the etiquette of these places, you can pretty much do whatever you want and that’s why I love them so much. In an era where almost half of fitness goers claim to experience intimidation when they go to the gym, I think tracks and parks provide an outlet for those that want to move their body without the foreboding gaze of strangers seemingly judging you or the peacocking that’s associated with fancy gyms. While institutions like the local press is losing funding in a way that has strong implications for the future of democracy, a part of me hopes that local parks don’t suffer the same fate so we can continue to maintain the democracy of pursuing health.
Whenever I’m in NYC I love to frequent the track, whether it be Boys and Girls Club, McCarren park w/ Brooklyn Track Club, East River, and more. There’s something special about seeing all the different disciplines, hopes, and movement practices all encompassed into one place. There’s no hierarchy here, quite literally just vibes. Whether you have the man in work boots casually walking around the track, someone doing ta-chi in the corner, perhaps a fitness class going in on the in-field, or someone zipping doing speed repeats like an Olympic sprinter on the track itself there’s always a space you can carve out the workout you want.
Over to the specific discipline of running though, I gravitate towards the track not simply because of the camaraderie it can provide (please look into local run clubs in your town) but just the different types of workouts you can do if you are able-bodied with your feet. It’s also a different terrain that allows you to find your flow on a different (and often lesser impact) surface. It also is a teaching space as you can just put on your watch after a cursory google search or a little extra effort from a coach to improve your cardiovascular health in different ways.
I was raised on the track, competing in the Junior Olympics as a youth and excelling. Some of my favorite (and most anxious) memories stem from track meets. In my time coaching runners, the track is often the best space to get reluctant runners to take the necessary step, break out of their shell, and pursue the enthralling inspiration that finding speed provides. Whether it’s low, medium, or high intensity I implore you to look at running not just simply a monotonous activity but also a skill in which you can improve with various different styles.
I’ve talked a lot on the internet about the benefits of the track, and different types of workouts, so I’ll plug that all in below and provide a few workouts my boy Steve Finley called his favorite.
Over the next couple weeks I will get into the nitty gritty of these different types of workouts but, to be honest, most of us aren’t good enough to worry about the nitty gritty and human physiology aspect of fitness all the time. Sometimes it just feels good to move in various ways, at various speeds, by using our feet.
So go look-up “where is the nearest running track” or just find open space that is slightly enclosed and make the world your track.
Regardless, just do have fun.
Each lap is typically 400 meters or 0.25 miles long.
Going to use what is called “RPE” or rate of perceived exertion instead of pace. This will be on a scale of 1–10 with “1” being easy and “10” being max effort.
workouts are detailed as “AxB” with A being the amount of times you do it, B being the distance that is run. This is then followed by a suggested rest period.
10x200 meters with 90 seconds rest between each rep. Effort level=7
6x400 meters with 90 seconds rest. Effort level=6
4x800 meters with 2 minutes rest. Effort level=6
15x200 meters with 60 seconds rest between each rep. Effort level=7
4x400 w/90 seconds (7 effort), 4x200 w/90-2 minutes rest (8 effort), 2x50 meters 2 minutes rest (9 effort)
5x1000m progressive from effort of 5 into effort of 8 for last rep. 90 second rest between sets.