Wednesday Track Workouts

Welcome to the DCRRC Wednesday Night Track Workouts. In conjunction with our year-round distance-specific training programs, and our regular Saturday Long Runs, these workouts aim to give runners of all abilities the fitness to reach their goals. For the novice or casual runner, these workouts will challenge you to a higher level of running fitness. For the competitive runner, track workouts are an essential means to reaching personal bests and to succeed at whatever level you are competing.

Where & When

Unless otherwise noted, workouts are held on the track at Washington-Liberty (formerly Washington-Lee) High School in Arlington. We meet near the concession stand (northwest corner) at 7:10pm and start the workout at 7:15pm. Warmups, drills, etc. are on your own.


Our workouts focus on two of the three forms of speed work used by distance runners from the 5K to the Marathon: Stamina Training (10K race pace or slower) and Interval Training (around 5K race pace). We also do a limited amount of Speed Training (faster than 5K race pace) especially during the summer.

Do not worry if this is new to you, and especially if you feel that track workouts are for "fast" runners. Our posted workouts are suggested "maximums," and can be individually tailored to your current level of fitness and specific running goals. Our coach, Ed Grant, has been leading these workouts for 20 years, and is happy to customize a workout plan to meet your needs.


To get a sense of how fast you should run during these workouts, we encourage you use the McMillan Running Calculator. You can plug in a recent race time and a goal race time, and the Calculator will churn out Training Paces (click on that term) for everything from long runs to speed paces. We recommend applying Mark Hadley's temperature + dew point adjustments in warm and humid weather. Temperature and dew point forecasts are available from the National Weather Service.

Speed Training FAQs

Q: How much do I have to be running to join these workouts?

A: Generally, 25 miles per week or the equivalent in running and cross-training is a good prerequisite. In addition, you should be doing a long run of at least 1-hour on the weekends. If you do not yet meet these criteria, please join us anyway. You can jog on the track, and talk to the coach about ideas to begin working speed into your training program.

Q: What is the first, best, and most natural form of speedwork?

A: The answer is easy: Hills. It is not difficult to include hills in your regular training runs. Just running them at the same pace as you run on the flats is a type of speed workout. You can also do ?hill repeats? ? running fast up, then jog slow down, a hill of decent slope and about 150m to 200M in length.

Q: How fast should I be running these workouts?

A: For most people, perhaps surprisingly, the answer is ?slower than you are now!? Over-training is a far more common inhibitor of peak performance than under-training. Fortunately, the internet offers various tools to help you find, and stick to, the right pace. My favorite is at Click on the ?McMillan Running Calculator,? plug in a couple of your recent and best times and, voila, you will be provided a range of recommended paces for everything from your slow recovery runs to your fastest speed work. The calculator does not show the amount of reps or the prescribed rest period ? that, you learn at the workouts themselves. (The McMillan webpage does offer a detailed description of various types of workouts and the physiological theories behind them).

Q: What is my most important workout of the week?

A: Most weeks, it will be your long run. Nothing can replace the long run as the developer of the capacities necessary to succeed in long-distance racing, which includes everything from 5K on up. A close second ? assuming you have done your long run ? is the day or days you either rest entirely, or run or cross-train at a true recovery pace. The long run does and should take a lot of you. Respect that, and come rested to Wednesday nights in order to get the maximum benefit, and not over-train.

Q: Describe the various forms of ?speed? workouts, please?

A: Briefly:

Steady-State or Marathon Pace Runs: Continuous runs, starting at 25 minutes and building out to over an hour, that are an essential part of any marathon training program. These give you training at your specific race pace, and allow sustained hard effort under controlled circumstances. Can be run on any kind of course.

Tempo Runs: A continuous run of 20-25 minutes, run at or near your race pace for 10-Miles on a flat, fast course. Should be done under more controlled conditions, flat or gradual sloping surface and precisely measured. Can be extended to 40 minutes, but at over 25 minutes, should include at least one short break of 90 seconds jogging.

Tempo or Cruise Intervals: Technically, two different types of workouts, but with same objective. Tempo Intervals involve longer repetitions, at least 2000M, and done at Tempo Pace or slightly faster. Cruise Intervals involve repetitions between 400M and 2000M, done at about 10K. Both involve short rest periods, just to give you a bit of a breather before starting again. Sessions involve at least 5K of fast running, and as much as 10K to 12K for the truly fit and experienced.

Interval Training: Once you have developed your ?stamina? through long runs, tempo runs, and tempo/cruise intervals, ?interval training? is where you sharpen your speed and start really beginning to learn how to run faster. These are done at 3K to 5K pace. A session should not involve more than 4K to 5K of fast running.

Q: Wow, that's complicated. What do I really need to do to as a start?

A: Hills and Tempo Runs/Intervals. If you were not able to come to the track at all, but included in your weekly workouts a long run of 90 minutes or more, one session of hard hills, and one 20-minute tempo run, you would see significant improvement in your fitness and performance. CAUTION: Build up to this gradually. Lengthen your long run in stages, then add in hills, and then add in the tempo run. This process should take 3-4 months if you are a casual runner who has decided to ?get serious.?

Q: Can you give me the bottom line here?

A: First, gradually build up a stamina base , using your weekly long run as a foundation, adding no more than 10 percent each week (measured by miles or by time). Second, schedule rest and recovery each week, and also each month ? take an easier week. Third, when you start the hard workouts, figure out what seems ?comfortably hard,? and then dia l your speed back a notch . Be disciplined and stay at that pace. Fourth, join us for our SLR and Wednesday Track Workouts ? you will develop a ?feel? for all this with the help of other friendly runners.


About the Coach and the Program

The Club's Wednesday Night Track Workouts have been coached since 1994 by Edward Grant, a Level I certified coach by USA Track & Field. Coach Ed ran competitively in high school and college and after some years away from the sport returned as a masters runner, with a top marathon time at age 41 of 2:51:47 (Philadelphia).

The Track Workout philosophy is simple: work hard, rest an appropriate amount between repetitions and sets, and (this is up to you) take the proper measures of recovery and rest in the day or two following. Also, we follow a regular program of training cycles, emphasizing tempo-pace and long interval training in the fall and winter, with shorter and faster workouts from April through July.

A word for beginners: You are welcome! As with any new situation, the workouts may seem intimidating at first. But there is plenty of advice available, both from the Coach and from other runners. You'll want to keep coming back.

Generally, we recommend that you be running about 20 miles per week (or equivalents in aerobic cross-training) before attempting our workouts. This should include a long run of an hour. But if you are not quite at that level, and want to get there, please join us. You can do a modified workout, meet and train with other novice runners, and start gaining more fitness.

We look forward to seeing you at the track!


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Directions to Track

Track workouts are held on the track at Washington-Liberty (formerly Washington-Lee) High School.

From Washington DC: take I-66 east to the Glebe Road exit, turn right on Glebe, right on 15th Street for about 0.4 miles, to Stafford Street, turn right and cross over I-66 and the school is on your left.
From Vienna and points west in Virginia: take I-66 east to the Fairfax Drive exit, follow Fairfax Drive for about 0.8 mile to Stafford Street, turn left for about 0.3 miles and the school is on your right.
From Alexandria: take Glebe Road going north until turning right on 15th Street, and proceed as from DC.
Metro: Washington-Liberty is a short walk from both the Virginia Square and Ballston Metro stations (Orange/Silver lines).

 DCRRlogotypeRRCA member

The DC Road Runners Club is a member of the Road Runners Club of America and is also affiliated with USA Track & Field. We provide a year-round schedule of running events that offer everyone a chance to participate regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability.