We’re continuing our weekly workout series by taking you to a place that many runners love for their speed work: the track!

Running on a track can be a great tool for running faster. You have an area free from car traffic, so you don’t need to stop or slow down in the middle of a workout. The smooth surface makes it easy to work on a quick turnover of your legs and the marked distances mean you don’t have to stare at your GPS while lap running.

The workout: lap running

  • Warm-up by running four laps (1 mile) around the track at an easy effort, followed by dynamic stretches. Four laps around a track is a mile.
  • Run hard for one lap (.25 mile), easy for one lap (.25 mile), and repeat for a total of 4-6 times.
  • Cooldown by running four laps (1 mile) around the track at an easy effort.

One lap around the track is 400 meters, or approximately .25 mile. This workout will total approximately 3-4 miles. As you progress, add another hard lap around the track every few weeks. More experienced runners can do 12 repeats of 400 meters (one lap).

Since track workouts are hard on the joints and muscles, do this workout once every 1-2 weeks and be sure to follow with rest or recovery run day. The warm-up and cooldown will also decrease your risk of injury since they ease your body into and out of the hard running.

That said, you don’t want to go all-out for every interval. You want to run at a very hard effort for each interval, but you don’t want to push your body beyond its limits. You want to begin running laps at a pace that you think you can hold for all 4-6 repeats, and then gradually get faster as you go. If you finish feeling like you could do another hard lap around the track, you did this workout right.

Since the track makes it easy to calculate pace, aim for a pace that’s roughly 1-2 minutes per mile faster than your easy run pace. So if you run at a 9:30/mile for an easy run on the roads, aim to run a 7:30-8:30/mile pace on the track. Then divide the mile time by 4 and this will tell you how many seconds it should take you to run one lap hard around the track. So if you are aiming for an 8:00/mile pace for your hard intervals, this means each hard repeat will take 2 minutes (120 seconds).

If you don’t have a track nearby, you can use Runkeeper interval workouts and Audio Cues to keep track of the 400 meter (.25 mile) distances. As always, you can easily track these in-app: click here to repeat the interval set 4 times and here to repeat it 6 times.