How to Start Running: Step 4

Get on track

Illustration by Jason Schneider

A high school track might bring on flashbacks of teenage boredom, but it’s the perfect place to unleash your inner Usain Bolt with an interval workout, a series of short but intense runs separated by slower recovery jogs.

“Interval training challenges your body to adapt, so the next time you run hard, you are better able to handle it,” says Eric Barron, the coach at Track Club L.A., a Santa Monica-based running group that has met weekly at a Westside track since 1996. “And psychologically you make gains when you endure something you have not done before.” For someone who runs about ten miles a week or more, Barron recommends starting with four to six 400-meter intervals (one lap around the track), with about two minutes of slow jogging between each run. Remember, speed is relative. You don’t have to be Flo-Jo fast—just faster than you usually are during your neighborhood run. “If you cross the line and need to bend over and hold your knees, you ran too fast,” says Barron. “If you are raring to go after 30 seconds, run the next one a little faster.”