Track Training - Saturday

Supervised track sessions, for all abilities, take place at 9:30am every Saturday at Wimbledon Park Track which was resurfaced in Nov 2005. The Club pays an annual subscription for use of the track from 9.30-11.30am.

The session starts with four gentle warm-up laps before more vigorous warm-ups and stretches. These are designed to lengthen and realign the muscles in preparation for the speed work to follow. Two sets of plyometrics to increase power, strength and speed are performed prior to the speed work. The speed sessions vary from week to week to cover a wide range of distances - take a look at the training schedule to get an idea of what is involved. We have a qualified coach (Olwen Seear) who plans our schedules.

The address of the track is:

Wimbledon Park,
Home Park Road,
SW19 7HX

Here is a map showing the location of Wimbledon Park.

Why go to the Track Sessions? Olwen Seear

Track training helps you to run faster and improves your mental and physical approach so that you run more efficiently and consistently with confidence over varying distances.

The track layout is accurate, the surface is sound, there is no fear of stumbling over tree roots, uneven surfaces, or traffic, pedestrians and all those other obstructions that road running throws at you. You can simply concentrate on accelerating as fast as your legs can take you with confidence.

The only requirement is that you have a base fitness and are capable of running at least 30 minutes three times a week. This is purely to ensure that you do not encounter any injuries from lack of muscular strength. 

If you are prone to falling over or stumbling, then the track is a safer place for you to train.

There is no fear of being left behind. All levels, from fast to slow, fit or unfit, are able to train together, without anyone feeling left out or intimidated. The sessions are adjusted to suit each individual and everyone is very supportive, giving advice and encouragement to one another.

Running hard or harder than usual can make you feel uncomfortable. You may feel discomfort as you train at pace over different distances but your body soon learns to adapt. You just need to allow about six weeks before you start to notice improvements.

The track is suitable for all abilities, whether you are a serious athlete, a runner who wants to increase speed and confidence, a social runner who wants to try different types of training to prevent boredom, or you just like the idea of sharing social banter with other track users. Fast and slow, fit and not so fit can all train together and get something out of it. 

A variety of distances are covered on the track, Typically the winter season involves longer reps to help build strength and stamina in preparation for spring marathons. Spring and Summer is the time for concentrating on pure speed, so shorter distances are covered. Sometimes we have short and long distances combined, using both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems to teach you how to cope with the highs and lows experienced while racing and being able to sprint finish on tired legs.

Recovery times vary between long and short, say, 100m or 200m jog/walk recoveries, or standing 30 secs recoveries.

As running on the track is so concentrated, it is important to ensure a thorough warm up beforehand. A typical session starts with a 1 mile warm up jog, a brief stretch followed by drills of heel flicks, high knees, fast feet and thigh lifts, which are performed to lengthen and realign muscle tissue, activate the nervous system and prepare you mentally for the speed session. To complete the warm up we perform plyometrics, adding a combination of power to the strengh and stamina build up, with hops, double squat jumps and walking lunges.

The session for that day is then explained followed by a 400m jog to get the legs back into running mode. Then the runners form groups according to their abilities and line up to start the speed work. The slowest runners lead so that everyone finishes together.

Another good thing about the track is that you can concentrate on technique. Listen to the sound of your footsteps - are they landing heavily? Is one foot landing more heavily than the other? Are you running heel-toe or on your forefoot (toes)? Check arm swing - are they moving in a forward-backward motion or are they swinging across the body? Are your shoulders swaying from side to side and are they relaxed? Are you standing too tall or leaning forward? All these issues can be addressed with skills practice.

When the speed work is over and following a 800m warm down, we move on to the field to work on our upper body and core area, finishing with a nice warm down stretch.

The track benefits include speed gains as your legs learn to move faster over different distances. The heart and lungs improve as they learn to function more efficiently to process oxygen and clear waste away at a faster pace. Confidence is gained and you become mentally and physically stronger. Your metabolism also increases which encourages fat burning.

When it comes to marathon training, we all know that the Marathon starts at 20 miles - we can all get to 20, but it's those last 6.2 miles that challenges you mentally, physically and emotionally for strength, stamina and determination. Doing your Sunday morning runs on tired legs following a track session is the perfect way to prepare your body for the toughest part of the Marathon. It will also encourage you to run at a slower pace - which is vital for training your energy system to run on fat rather than glycogen.

We also carry out a 12 minute threshold run, or Cooper Test, every six weeks. Dr Cooper researched in the 60s that if you run non-stop for 12 minutes the workout is 80% aerobic and 20% anaerobic, enabling you to assess your aerobic fitness (VO2max).

Come and join us, we meet every Saturday at 9.30am — through wind, rain and snow — there is no stopping us!  All abilities are welcome.

Olwen Seear (Level 3 UKA Coach, Exercise to Music Instructor, Sports Therapist) (Tel: mobile 07941 898 896 or 0208 949 6345)