Running on the Track Has Its Advantages

07/03/2017 - 14:59

IMG_1689.JPGBy Tracy Green

Sometimes your racing routine just needs a dash of something new. After I was snubbed by a very-short 5k earlier this season, I ran my first track 5000 … at the age of 32.

As a high schooler, I ran two seasons of track during which I mediocrely ran the 100m and 200m sprints. If forced, I occasionally subbed on the 4x400 relay.

I also avoid the track for speed work because it’s just so … many …. laps. But after awhile, after you’ve accepted 12 mile treadmill runs as normal and ran 6 miles of speed work on the track out of necessity (and by that I mean lights and water in January), 12.5 laps starts to seem like not so many.

Especially if I don’t have to count them.

When I reached out to a local college track coach — who is younger than me by the way, and did recently wallop me by 3 minutes in a 10k — she was a little, um, dismissive. “In my experience, running on the track is a lot different than racing on the roads.” Well, sure. But that’s not to say racing on the track is different in a bad way!

Here’s five things I learned from my long-distance track debut nearly a decade after I graduated college:

1. You’re set up for an automatic age group win! Okay, they don’t give those out at open college meets, but who cares? Actually, they don’t give out anything. No plastic medals, no mugs, no crappy t-shirts eight sizes too big. And you know what? It only cost me $25. That’s a fair deal.

2. Logistics heaven. The start and finish are in the same place. I left my bag on the bleachers and my warmups and training shoes in the infield. You can’t get lost — just keep turning left. There are no potholes, curbs, train tracks, road-killed animals (saw someone’s recently deceased pet at mile 7 of my last marathon, gross). Someone else is counting the laps for you, there’s a giant clock with your overall time, and someone will tell you your split every 200 meters. (Tip: you might want to know what those should be in advance, because the math gets hard halfway through.)

3. Fixed crowd support. Your fan base doesn’t have to chase you from point to point, heck, they can be eating a hot dog while you’re racing! They will get to see you 13 times during a 5k! There will also be coaches and teammates all along the infield cheering, cajoling, and possibly berating. You’ll get some great motivation, even if it’s not intended for you, and you might have a few moments of distraction thinking, “Wow, I’m glad that’s not my coach,” or “If you think it’s so easy to catch the lead pack, why don’t you come out here and do it yourself?”

4. No giant bibs. Just hip numbers that you stick on yourself, probably chest and hip. No longer do you need a chip-embedded bib the size of your entire torso.

5. No dudes wearing headphones and Vibram five fingers cutting you off and then slowing down right in front of you before cutting the course by shorting a corner on the sidewalk. Isn’t that reason enough?

(Tracy Green is a runner and writer living in Louisville, KY, where she lives with her husband, Chris. She is a Hammer Nutrition sponsored athlete and certified Pilates instructor. Find her at @TGRunFit on Twitter and Instagram,, or

Photo: Tracy at the track.

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