Get in Shape on the Track
The oval’s precisely marked sections increase focus, boost intensity, and provide the perfect setting for high-intensity intervals. Add the bleachers and the outdoor space turns into a total-body gym. Here’s how to use it.
The fastest way to see gains in cardiovascular fitness is to do intervals. Professional runner and two-time USA Track & Field Olympian Nick Symmonds suggests going for 200 meters at a time — a distance far enough to push your heart and lungs but not so long that it torches your legs. His workout: Jog two laps to warm up, then go for your first interval. “Run that 200-meter sprint very, very hard,” he says. (Symmonds aims for 25 seconds; you should go for 30.) Then you get a breather: 200 meters of bounce-back walking time. Do this eight times total, ending with two more laps of slow running to cool down. “By taking your body out of its comfort zone — jogging — you stimulate your muscles to use fat as fuel during and after the workout,” he says.
A descending ladder drill — running distances that gradually get shorter and shorter — won’t only fight monotony. It can also make you run a little more than you would if you’d just set out to jog laps. The idea is simple: Run hard for a certain distance (400 meters, say), jog the same amount to recover, then repeat the run-jog couplet for 300 meters, 200 meters, then 100 meters. A ladder routine like this will help to up your endurance and make a typical run around the neighborhood feel easier, says Cliff Rovelto, director of track and field at Kansas State University. And psychologically, it’s motivating to know the workout is only going to get easier as you go.
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