5 Track Workouts to Improve Your Speed

 A track is the perfect setting for speed workouts. The surface is ideal and you can easily set up workouts based on laps. Adding track workouts to your training routine can boost your speed and enliven your regimen.

Add some of these fun workouts and you're sure to see improvements in your race times. To start, do only one speed workout per week. You can add a second one as you build fitness.

If you've never done any kind of speed training, make sure you first understand the rules for speed training. You will want to first establish a good running base. Always warm up, and when you pick up the pace, don't start too fast.

Focus on your running form as you do your speed work. Be sure to do a cool down at an easy pace, and enjoy the next day as a rest day.


Push the Straightaways

Woman Running
 Getty Images

This is a great intro workout for those who are new to track workouts. It's simple. After a couple of laps at an easy pace to warm up, start to push the pace on the straight sections of the track (known as the straightaways) and then recover (at an easy pace) on the turns.

If you're training for a specific race, such as a 5K, you can do your race pace on the straightaways. Start with four laps and add another lap each week until you work your way up to 10 laps.


Ladder Workout

Runner on track
Cavan Images

This track workout will help build your speed, confidence, and endurance, no matter what race distance you're training for. If you're not sure what your 5K (3.1 miles) race pace is, use a race pace estimate calculator. Beginners should start with one sequence, while more advanced runners can repeat the sequence once they've worked through it.

  • Warm-up: 5 minutes at a walk/slow jog
  • Work interval: 400 meters (1 lap) at 5K race pace
  • Rest interval: Recover (easy pace) 400 meters 
  • Work interval: 800 meters (2 laps) at 5K race pace
  • Rest interval: Recover (easy pace) 400 meters
  • Work interval: 1,200 meters (3 laps) at 5K race pace
  • Rest interval: Recover (easy pace) 400 meters
  • Work interval: 1,600 meters (4 laps) at 5K race pace
  • Rest interval: Recover (easy pace) 400 meters
  • Cool down: 5 minutes at an easy pace

Mile Test

Man Running on Track
Robin Skjoldborg/Cultura/Getty

Doing a timed mile on a track is a great way to assess your fitness and give yourself a goal to work toward. Run a hard mile (4 laps) at a fast but steady pace. You want to go as fast as you can, but maintain an even pace for each lap.

For example, if you are aiming for a 6-minute mile, your goal would be to run each lap in 90 seconds. Make a note of your time and use it as a benchmark to test yourself against every month as you ​​​train to run a faster mile. Try to run all four laps at the same pace instead of starting out too fast and slowing down.


Kick Its

Runner on a track
Brand X Pictures

Start with four 400-meter (one lap) intervals at your 10K pace, with 400-meter recovery (at an easy pace) in between. Once you've finished that, do eight 200-meter repeats at 5K pace, with 200-meter recovery (easy pace) in between.

Try to really push yourself during the hard intervals, as if you're in your final ​kick to the finish line.


Mile Repeats

Couple Running on a Track
Robin Skjoldborg/Cultura/Getty Images

Mile repeats are one of the best speed workouts you can do to improve your race times and build your running confidence. Here's a workout you can do once a week:

  • Start with 2-mile repeats (1 mile equals four laps) in the first session. Run each mile at your 10K or half-marathon pace.
  • Recover (at an easy pace) for a half-mile (2 laps) in between repeats.
  • Make sure your breathing and heart rate have recovered before you start your next repeat.
  • Add another mile repeat the following week. Try to maintain that same pace (10 to 15 seconds faster than your realistic goal marathon pace) for each one.
  • Try to work up your way up to six repeats if you're an advanced runner. Intermediate runners may want to stop at four or five repeats.
Was this page helpful?
4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Sports Med. 2007;37(12):1089-1099. doi:10.2165/00007256-200737120-00006

  2. Van Hooren B, Peake JM. Do We Need a Cool-Down After Exercise? A Narrative Review of the Psychophysiological Effects and the Effects on Performance, Injuries and the Long-Term Adaptive Response. Sports Med. 2018;48(7):1575-1595. doi:10.1007/s40279-018-0916-2

  3. Foster C, Farland CV, Guidotti F, et al. The Effects of High Intensity Interval Training vs Steady State Training on Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity. J Sports Sci Med. 2015;14(4):747-755.

  4. Lussiana T, Gindre C. Feel your stride and find your preferred running speed. Biol Open. 2015;5(1):45-48. doi:10.1242/bio.014886