Let Track Season Bring Out the Gamer in the Runner: Each event, different variables to master

Lately it feels like my brain is running way faster than my legs could ever keep pace. That’s a darn shame, because one would certainly opt for running a new PR rather than mentally shouting, “SHUT UP!” to your brain at 2am and imploring it to go to bed. 😉

Speaking of PR’s, track racing season is getting to be in full swing. Some people have a bit of a phobia when it comes to the track, others find the monotony of double-digit laps, well, monotonous. The thing with track though, is it BLEEDS speed…as a runner, how can you not love that?
runner yelling track
Each distance is unique, duh, the number of laps to the race you’ll be running presents its own challenges. The ratio of speed to endurance, the contrast between utter lactic ONSLAUGHT from the gun versus the more gradual building of the pain in the 10k. Both grueling, just in a different way.

Each race has a ‘volatile’ factor. This would be the crucial moments and laps that can make or break your race. The margins of time where if you’re not ON IT you may have very well lost the race even if you’re still got laps and laps to go.

There’s not just ONE moment in time of course, but for the sake of brevity let’s highlight a few of the volatile factors for the events:

* 1500/Mile: That dang third lap. Here is where the pain of the pace has already set in, the ‘taste’ of the finish isn’t quite close enough to kick in. Your mind starts to dauntingly anticipate that grueling last lap. COMBAT: Know that third lap is going to suck, know that it will make your race if you can pass the people letting their brain wander.
running in bunhuggers
* 3200: Right around laps 4-6 it is easy to let your brain check-out. It’s prime time to make a move, surge and establish a gap on those who either went out too fast for that first mile or the poor souls who are just letting their mind wander. COMBAT: Go out on pace the first mile and throw down a move…remember the beauty of negative splits.

* 5k: It’s funny how running that first mile can feel so easy, a breeze, too easy. The middle mile is where you need to wrangle your brain and keep it FOCUSED. Much like the 3rd lap of the mile, the middle of your 5k can lapse into a fog if you’re not careful. COMBAT: Don’t let yourself get pulled out too fast the first mile, stay mentally engaged the middle mile, and anticipate the cold slap of pain somewhere after the second mile. It’s funny how it can suddenly sneak up on you, but be prepared for it and stay strong through to the finish.

Each race has its own set of ‘volatile’ factors…that’s what makes each and every track distance so fun. It’s a test, as is everything with running, testing mostly yourself. The competition is there as an opportunity to propel your performances forward…feed off of their presence.

Track is awesome, just don’t let the distance of the race pull a fast one on you. Be prepared and then enjoy the unique challenges of each event.

1) What is your favorite track distance to race?

2) Pick a distance I didn’t highlight and share one of their ‘volatile’ factors.

3) Share a ‘volatile’ factor that I didn’t address for one of the above races.
best running shirts

Related posts:

11 thoughts on “Let Track Season Bring Out the Gamer in the Runner: Each event, different variables to master

  1. I remember the 3rd curve (no matter what distance I was racing) was the loneliest place in every race for me. When I became a distance coach at a university – I always tried to be stationed there – for all laps!!!

  2. As wannabe track runner I love this post. You inspire me so much to get out there and start some track running. My volatile spot where it’s all a constant negotiation with the brain for me is the 3rd km in a 5km and 6-8km in the 10km. I swear once I get over those sticky points I can finish just because I am “close enough” :=)

    • first edit: delete the ‘wannabe’ part!! oh i can’t wait for u to embrace ur inner speedster, trust me you’re going to not only surprise yourself but you’ll be falling in love with the track! 🙂 (or shorter road races…haha)

  3. I’ve never run a race on a track. I didn’t run track in high school, so the only time I spent on the track was for Mile Monday for soccer and field hockey (which later turned into 1 and a half mile Monday and then 2 Mile Monday). I did do my first speed workout on the track this past week and I have a new respect for those who run races on the track. I was so intimidated to just step onto the track to do the workout.

    • i’m so glad u got out on the track! many runners who get into the sport post high-school/college can feel intimidated by the track but there’s no reason to be! keep up those speed workouts. 🙂

  4. Raced on a track…twice in my life? Both times as part of a 5K – 1 mile – 400 m series (all in on evening). The experience was intense, but long enough ago that I don’t really remember much, and certainly not indicative of how each race would feel on its own.

    But no matter what distance I’m racing (and this seems to hold for your observations above), it’s the middle section that is a no-man’s-land. Too far from the start to still feel fresh, and too far from the finish to “gut it out”. It’s easy to zone out and/or get discouraged. So I focus on that chunk ahead of me: “Get to mile 2.” (in a 5K) “Get to mile 5.” (in a 10K) “Get to mile 10.” (in a 21K) I’ll stoop so low as to break THAT section up into sections, if necessary! 🙂

    • it really is the middle of any race that tends to be a mental trap…wat u’re doing to break it up is a perfect mental trick! for the track, i take the race in sets of four…only one mile/4 laps at a time.

  5. Pingback: The Running Infection: Spreading and changing lives |

  6. Pingback: The Track is For Dreamers |

  7. Pingback: Reasons I’m Loving Spring |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *