Some track truths:
1) I love the track. the symmetry, the precise measurements, never being too far away from anything. Mostly I just love the looks and challenge of it. It's the same type of venue that runners, including some of the best on the planet, run on every day. Gives me goosebumps.
2) I love running fast. I know. Fast is relative. In fact, I now know this more than ever before in my life. But I still love the feeling.
3) I hate the misery of track workouts. I hate the fact that someone put the word, 'work' into that word, 'workout'. This stuff is pure drudgery. But it's sweet drudgery.
4) You may have heard this from me before: running slow doesn't make you slow. Not running fast makes you slow. The track is a partial cure for slow disease.
5) Intervals should indeed be fast. I know: technically, the 'intervals' are the time between the fast repeats. But most of us (and I will here) use the term to mean the fast repeats themselves. But I digress. The intervals, or repeats, should indeed be fast for their distance, but it's far more important that they're sustainable. This means that your tenth 800 should be roughly the same as your first.
6) The length of the repeat distance should vary. For most training, it's good to alternate weekly workouts between relatively short distances and fairly long ones. For example, a marathon runner may do mile intervals one week, and Yasso 800s the next. A half-marathoner may want to alternate 800s and 400s. An additional option is to mix the repeat length in a single workout, like 2 or 3 by 1600, 800, 400).
7) I have found that mile intervals have, at least for me, the closest correlation with marathon performance. In other words, if I can do something like eight one-mile repeats at about 10-mile to half-marathon pace, I will stand a good chance of completing my marathon in the expected time.
8) Naturally, the speed of each repeat will depend on it's length. The mixed interval distance, with different speeds applied based on distance, gives us an excellent sense of pace.
9) The beginning of each repeat contains a sweet spot, where I can run pretty fast before the fatigue hits home. I wrote a blog post about this a long time ago; it's called Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Check it out.
10) Always give 90 percent; not 100. I've heard that this is the advice top coaches give their charges, especially for the Olympic team. Only at the finish of the final repeat should you give it all you've got. Otherwise, it'll be gone when you need it. This philosophy ought to go into your race plans as well.
11) When your track workout is complete, you should be tired, but not completely destroyed. You should feel as though you could have done more. But don't. Save it for the races.
12) I love the track. Oh, I said that already.
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