Many people start running hoping to lose weight. Shortly after you start seeing progress, you find yourself wanting to get faster. You can have both – lose weight and increase your speed when you take it to the track.
Interval workouts, whether you do them on the track, road or treadmill, are effective in teaching you to run faster. One of my favorite track workouts is a speed ladder track workout.
Ladder workouts can easily be adapted for every runner – beginner, elite and everyone in between. Simply choose to increase your speed throughout your run, running each pace for a designated amount of time or laps around the track. The speeds and distances you run are up to you.
Ladder workouts are great for the track because you can easily add on laps with each new portion to increase your distance. On the treadmill, simply increase your speed after a set distance.
What is a ladder workout?
The general structure of a ladder workout involves various segments, increasing in distance and/or pace with each new segment.
You can choose to simply increase your distance and/or pace throughout each portion of the workout, or increase to a peak and then decrease afterwards until the end
I prefer to increase the distance to a peak and then decrease when on a track.
How to set up the ladder track workout
There should be three components to the workout – the warm up, the workout itself and the cool down.
The Warm-Up: 800 meters (TWO laps around the track)
The Workout: It can be any distance you like. Start small and build up before coming back down. Here’s one example: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 400m, 200m, 100m.
Each interval should be followed up with a rest period. I recommend either jogging or walking the same distance you ran.
The Cool Down: Cool down with 800 meters to flush the lactic acid out of your legs and stretch while your muscles are still warm. Use a foam roller when you get home will also help reduce soreness and keep your muscles from getting knotted.
Speed ladder workout
The speed ladder workout is not only fun, but it is also a great way to add several miles of fast running in without it being intimidating.
Since you start out with shorter intervals, the run doesn’t seem so difficult at first. The longest interval is in the middle, and by that time, you’re halfway done. By then you have hit the peak so every interval gets shorter again.
Why you should do speed workouts
How do intervals make you faster? During speed training, you activate your slow-twitch muscles and intermediate muscle fibers, which increases your aerobic capacity and teaches your intermediate fibers to help out your slow-twitch muscles when they become tired. This improves your ability to keep running when you get tired.
Tip: If you are running on a treadmill, I recommend setting the incline to 1% to mimic outdoor running conditions.
Here is one treadmill interval workout I have done when I couldn’t get outside on the pavement.
Other track workouts
It consists of 8 x 400s (8 full laps around the track) with 200 meter strides in between in each lap.
Run at 5K pace around the track 1 full time. After a lap, jog lightly for 200 meters (halfway around the track) to recover. Repeat this 4, 5 or 6 times depending on your ability.
The premise is simple: Take your goal marathon time and then run that time for 800 meters—use minutes and seconds rather than hours and minutes.
For example, if you’re trying to run a 4:15 marathon, your Yasso 800m goal time is 4 minutes and 15 seconds.
The goal after several weeks is to run 10 x 800m repetitions on the track at your goal time with an easy jog recovery of 400 meters.
The name “Yasso” comes from Bart Yasso, the former chief running officer at Runner’s World magazine, who popularized this workout.
Do you do any track workouts?