Posted in Run

If you're not including track sessions into your training plan, it's safe to say you are missing out. The running track is the best place to work on speed and consistent pace whether you are a 5k runner, a marathon runner and everything in between.

Benefits of track running

The track is a controlled environment, it's flat with no obstacles, cars or traffic lights to take into consideration. You can think purely about each stride with no interruption. Therefore, track sessions will help you to build consistency of pace, strength and allow you to get faster.

Many runners start their runs too quickly and then struggle to keep a consistent pace throughout their run with split times getting slower as the run goes on. Spending time on the track helps a runner to control their pace by accurately measuring splits over a shorter controlled distance.

The running track is also a great place to meet other runners! Whether you decide to run with a club, a coach or solo - there will be plenty of others to chat to and get support from. When running with others compared to on your own, you're more likely to push a little harder, so surrounding yourself with like-minded people will benefit you both physically and socially.

Basic track info

400m - the distance around the track (measured from the inside lane aka lane 1)

Straightaway - the straight edge of the track measuring 100m

Curve / turn - the curved edge of the track measuring 100m

Lap - one complete rotation of the track

Reps - number of times you complete one specific action (eg 3 reps of 100m)

The outside lane - this lane can be 40-50m longer than the inside lane which is why you see staggered race starts.

Intervals - high intensity running (such as sprints) along with low-intensity recovery such as walking, or jogging. The key to intervals is to maintain a consistent performance (speed/pace) during each interval

Can I just turn up to the track?

It's worth searching 'running tracks near me' and once you've located your local sports centre/athletics track, contact them. Some running tracks will require you to book a slot and some will allow you to turn up and pay at the gates. We recommend inquiring about joining a running club too, at least for your first few sessions so you can learn track etiquette and get a taster for specific sessions. Running club sessions are often lead by a qualified coach who will have the knowledge to help you improve.

Running track ettiquette

  • Run anticlockwise always
  • Overtake a slower runner on the outside (on the right) and give plenty of space so there are no collisions
  • Don't stop suddenly - think about the people running behind you and try to get out of their way when slowing down
  • Don't walk in lane 1 -  If you need to recover, head to the outer lanes for slower running
  • If someone walks in front of you when you're running in lane 1 - you can shout 'track' to make them aware of your presence (but don't just shout it at slower runners, it might cause an uproar)

Preparing for track running

Warm-up - You're going to be pushing your body hard with each rep or interval, so a good warm-up is key. An example would be to jog for 10 minutes to get your blood flowing before you start your speedwork.

Drills - As well as your main running workout, we recommend adding some running drills into your session. Drills help to strengthen the muscles and joints that are needed for powerful and fast running. They also help to improve your running technique by working on coordination and balance.

Cool-down - Just as important as a warm-up. Be sure to wind your session down with a slower jog/walk followed by some stretching. This will help your muscles to recover and feel less sore the following day.

What equipment do I need at the running track?

The track is similar to regular road or trail running, but with increased efforts. It is important to be hydrated before, during and after your session. We recommend electrolyte tablets in your water bottle which you can take to the track with you.

You don't need specific track running shoes (unless you're planning on becoming a sprinter in which case spikes are the way to go) but lightweight, responsive running shoes will be beneficial.

If you're not sure which trainers suit your running style, you can check out the 'My Run Shoe Finder' tool for your at-home gait analysis to find the perfect pair.

Try the 'My Run Shoe Finder' tool now 

Example sessions

If you're new to the track, start with some of the following sessions and repeat. Try to give yourself the same amount of recovery as interval and build on this each session. Eg if you run a 400m interval, be sure to recover over 400m too. 


10 minute jog warm up

100m fast

100m jog/walk recovery

Repeat 5 (add 1 rep each week up to 10 reps)

10 minute jog/walk/stretch cool down


10 minute jog warm up

Run 400m (2 laps) / 800m / 1200m / 800m / 400m at your 5km race pace (if you're not sure of your race pace just yet, Google 'race pace calculator') 

400m-800m walk/jog recovery between each distance

10 minute jog/walk/stretch cool down

Get inspired by these Track Stars

Eilish McColgan


Harry Aikines-Aryeetey


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About the author

GBurden's picture
Gabriella Burden
Published on: 21 Jul 2021

You'll find me running, swimming, cycling, or hiking. And trying to convince anyone and everyone to do the same.