Not many of us likely count the local track as our workout locale of choice. However, it may be time to lace up the trainers like the UA HOVR™ Apex Training Shoes ($140) and reconsider the good old track. Not only is it a great spot to enjoy some exercise outside, but it's also a totally free option beyond the gym or investing in a treadmill to practice running or walking. What's more, you can even utilize the warm up area or the park surrounding the lanes to sneak in some strength moves and stretches for a total-body workout.
For those looking for a fun routine to kick-start their own track adventure, I spoke to Carole Housaman, an ACE-certified trainer and coach at Formula Running Center. She reminded me that not all who visit the track need to be track stars. With a standard track featuring eight lanes, there are plenty of lanes to go around. "Just like driving on the highway, the inner track lane is the fast lane and is used for runners who are performing speed workouts," she explained. "The outer lanes are for easier paced running and walking."
Ultimately, as long as you're following the track's rules and proper etiquette (running is usually counterclockwise; however, some tracks do rotate the direction of running daily, explained Housaman), you should be free to enjoy the track regardless of level or experience.
Whether you're ready to head out for your very first track visit or you're a seasoned pro, Housaman shared this 30-minute total body workout that will work your whole body.
Warm up and stretching
Begin with an easy jog/walk at a conversational pace for two laps around the track. After the warmup, add in the following dynamic stretches for 30-60 seconds each.
- Walking knee hugs: Hug your knee into your chest, alternating legs.
- Walking good mornings: Extend your left leg and flex your left foot while hinging from your hips and reaching toward your food. Alternate legs.
- Walking straight leg kicks: Stand up tall, with your arms above your head. Raise the right leg and tap it with your left arm, while taking a step forward. Alternate sides.
- Prisoner walks: Place arms behind your head while taking walking lunges forward, bringing your knee to elbow.
- Stationary lateral leg swings: Stand still and hold onto a fence for support. With straight legs, swing one leg forward across the body while maintaining a strong core. Alternate sides.
- Inchworm caterpillar walks: Assume a plank position. Shuffle your legs up toward your hands until they almost meet. Without standing up, move your hands forward to assume a plank position again to mimic an inchworm.
Break the track into two parts, the straightaways and the curves. Remember one lap measures 400 meters.
- Complete 2 X 100 meter run/walk. Run at a hard effort on the straightaways and walk around the curves for your recovery. Complete this alternating two times for a total of one lap.
After the run/walk, complete the following strength moves:
- 15 push-ups
- 30-second forearm plank hold
- 30 squats
- 50 walking lunges (25 per leg)
Recover for two minutes and repeat the set until all rounds are completed. Complete three to four rounds — or one to two rounds if you're a beginner.
- Take one lap of an easy walk or jog around the track
- Finish up with your choice of static stretches