For those of you who  don’t know about Nike Run Club, LISTEN UP!  This group is an amazing resource for new runners, experienced runners, serious runners or recreational runners.  Pacers, coaches & fellow crazy athletes make training and just running in general an amazing social experience.  

Most days during the week they have a special run or workout geared towards your training.  Saturdays are the long runs where there are 3 pre-determined distances with pacers for whatever time you want to run (whether it’s 8:30 or 9:30 or “sexy” pace) and Tuesdays are the speed/track workouts where you’re divided up based on your 5K time.  They are located in many of the major cities in the US and also internationally!  Check out the link above to see if they’re in a city near you and SERIOUSLY consider stopping by.  Everybody is super friendly and so supportive in whatever running endeavor you’re getting yourself into!  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve relied on this group to get me through my races.

This article is going to focus on the speed workouts, but I’ll be sure to go into the “Long Run Saturdays” another day.

I’m new to track workouts, but Tuesdays are swiftly becoming my favorite workout day of the week.  I get flashbacks of running sprints up and down the soccer field in high school and surprisingly, I feel a sense of calm and familiarity rather than pain and suffering!  I can’t believe I didn’t do track work previously.  I can literally feel how much this is helping my endurance and speed.

In New York, we meet at Nike’s Flatiron location at either  6:00 or 7:00 where they have Gatorade and water waiting for you, as well as a high tech bag check table. NOTE: even if the session is “full” on the website, they 100% accept drop-ins.  I’ve never been denied!  Once there, you figure out what group you want to run in that evening, based on your 5K time.  Some weeks the workouts are harder than the others, so you definitely want to check with the pacers and see what they have in store for you.  For the last 2 weeks, I ran with the “Purple” group (supposedly a 5K pace of 20-23 minutes), which is the 3rd fastest and I found that I was finishing ahead of the pacers, so last night, I ran with “Black” (5K time of 17-20 minutes), which is the 2nd fastest.  It’s all about trial and error and figuring out which group you belong in.  Again, the pacers are so helpful and if they feel like you’re struggling or not being challenged enough, they’ll tell you to either drop back a group or step up to the next level.

From the store, we run 1.75 miles to the track on the East River.  There, we meet the coach who goes over what the workout is going to be and again, coolers filled with waters and Gatorade (Nike – always keeping us hydrated)!

I’ve included the workout that we did last night below in order to show you an example of what we do.  It was actually pretty challenging and included very little break time in between sets, but felt so good afterwards!

  • For those of you unfamiliar with track distances,  400m is 1 time around the track and is equivalent to 1/4 of a mile.  100m is a the straight stretch of the track.
  • 4x400m- the 1st and 3rd at 10k pace and the 2nd and 4th at 5k pace
  • 4x300m- the 1st and 3rd at 5k pace and the 2nd and 4th at 1 mile pace
  • 4x200m- the 1st and 3rd at 1 mile pace and the 2nd and 4th at “best” pace
  • 4x100m- all at “best” pace

In previous workouts, we’ve done 1000m segments and 800m segments as well. It just depends on the day!

It’s great to challenge yourself and these track workouts are crucial to increasing speed and endurance.  Even at the last 100 meters, I was running them at 15 seconds. I’ve always been unfamiliar with track distances and times, but every week I learn more and more.  For example, before I started this, I actually had no idea how long 800m or 400m were around a track.  For somebody that’s been running for years, that’s rather embarrassing!

As a distance runner, I’ve been told that I should be focused on my times for the 400 – 1000 meter segments.  However, it feels good to sprint out those last couple of 100 meters and train your body to excel, even at it’s most exhausted.

If you’re finding yourself stagnant in your running and not getting any faster be sure to do some speed work.  Whether it’s on the track or intervals between telephone poles, do it.  You’ll definitely thank yourself after!  If you’re near a Nike Run Club, stop by – I promise you’ll love it!!

Happy Running!