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.

Putting Together Your Training Program and Pacing Plan

Long Runs: The most essential, but often the most misunderstood, component of your training schedule. Most weeks should include a long run of 60-90 minutes. Advice on how hard to run these varies somewhat, but most successful runners run these at two to two-and-one-half minutes slower than 10K pace, or 60-90 seconds slower than marathon pace. That can seem quite slow at times, but the purpose of these runs is not to build speed or wear yourself out by a hard pace. (The effort, and fatigue, will come from long distance you are running running). It can take great discipline to keep these runs at the desired pace. Another way to measure the right effort is heart rate: about 70-75 percent of maximum heart rate is just about right. This can mean an even slower pace in the hot summer months. Towards the end of a training cycle, when you are approaching your "peak," some of your long runs should include a significant stretch at your marathon pace (40-60 seconds slower than 10K pace) or a shorter stretch (20 minutes, or 2 x 15 minutes) at tempo pace.

Don't overdo the distance of your long runs, even when training for a marathon. Multiple 20-milers tend to prove out the law of diminishing returns. For most marathoners, a series of gradually longer runs during the 4 to 5 months preceding the marathon, with the 6 to 8 longest runs averaging 16-18 miles, will be sufficient. The key is time on your feet, not distance. Coaching guru Dr. Jack Daniels, for example, recommends a long run of not more than 2 hours and 30 minutes.  Obviously, there is a place for one or two 20-milers in your preparation, but do not overdo them.

Tempo Runs: The next most important part of training. We spend much of the winter training at tempo pace. This is your pace for a fast 10-Mile or 15K road race.

Tempo and Cruise Intervals: We run a variety of tempo-and "cruise"-paced workouts. Tempo intervals are run at just slightly faster than 10M race pace, while "cruise" intervals are done at close to 10K race pace. Recovery intervals are short. Again, the McMillan calculator will give you precise pace ranges for these types of workouts.

Interval Workouts: Repeats from 400M to 5:00 in length, run at 5K pace, with a long break for longer repeats, and shorter breaks for shorter repeats.

"Faster" Interval Workouts: These are shorter distances, usually 400M or less, run at 3K pace, Mile pace, or faster. If done at 3K pace, a jogged 1-minute recovery is enough. As you get faster, a longer recovery is needed. We do relatively few of these workouts on Wednesday night, but they can be used as a second speed workout in the late summer and fall to complement our Wednesday night efforts. But these should be "short" workouts, covering no more than 2 miles in total repeat distance.


Back on the Track!

Club Members & Guests:

We're back on the track for the entire month of May, and that should continue through the summer.

The Marathon Training Program will join us the first week of june. But if you are joining the MTP, please get a head start and join us this month if you can.

Workouts will progress this month, mostly at 5K pace, with one week of 400s at 10K pace with short rest.

We will repeat the 4 x 5:00 @ 5K pace workout on May 28th, since a number of people missed it in April.

A few reminders. We start warm-ups (on your own) by 7:00 in order to be ready to start the workout proper at 7:15. We share the track not only with each other, but with other groups. So, please stixck to lane 1 when running your fast repeats, and swing out to lane 4 (or use the "lane" inside the track) for your recoveries.) It is strongly recommended that you run easily for at least 10 minutes before the workout, and another 10 minutes afterwards. Preferably, your warm up should be 2 miles.

Please bring your own supply of water/Gatorade/energy gels.

May 7, 2008: 6 x 800M repeats at 5K pace ("Interval" pace on the McMillan Running Calculator), with 400M recovery. Finish with 2 x 200M at 5K pace or faster.

May 14, 2008:5 x 1000M repeats at 5K pace, with 400M to 600M recovery. Your recovery should take about 80 percent of the time it takes to do the 1000M repeat -give yourself sufficient rest on these.

May 21, 2008: 16 (Max) x 400M at 10K pace, with 100M recovery. Divide into sets, with a 1-2 minute water break.

May 28, 2008 4 x 5:00 at 5K pace. 5-minute recovery.

Looking ahead, our summer workouts will be a mix of shorter speedwork at 5K pace, sometimes a bit faster, and sets of the 400M repeats at 10K pace for variety, and a break. We will also be in Bunion Derby racing season starting in June. Workouts will continue as scheduled, except on nights when there is a race.

Marathon Training Program participants who are new to speedwork will be encouraged to do these workouts, at first, at a pace slower than 5K race pace, as they develop a sense for interval training. Marathon Training coaches should plan to attend the Wednesday Night workouts, as they are key to the the training program, and a good opportunity for one-on-one work with the participants.

See 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.