|Karen London absorbs the wisdom of Jack Daniels,|
TRF coach emeritus
Veteran runners can forget how intimidating the track can be for people who are new to the experience. If you haven’t run on the track before, it might feel foreign and even uncomfortable. It’s common to feel confused about all the activity and to find it miraculous that everyone else seems to know what to do when it seems so chaotic.
As in any culture, there are rules and norms of behavior that only make sense if someone lets you know what they are. This track “etiquette” concerns following guidelines, which is the way to avoid sudden swerving, unplanned stops, and collisions. Here are some basics about the expectations on the track:
- Taking the growth of TRF membership into account, all workouts are run counterclockwise on the track, using all available lanes. Before practice or when the group session is complete, runners can warm up and cool down going clockwise in the outer-most lanes.
- From the time you arrive at the track, be aware of its usage. Always look both ways to make sure you are not jumping out in front of anybody. Nobody wants to interfere with someone’s workout, or worse, cause an injury.
- At all tracks, Lane 1 is saved for the fastest runners. Because we conduct workouts with so many members of varying goals and abilities, we ask that runners who are typically passed by others position themselves outside of Lane 1. However, if you are being passed, do not change lanes in an attempt to get out of anybody's way--it is more likely to cause an accident than staying where you are. This TRF-specific policy is different than at most other tracks, where the proper etiquette is for the runner who is passing to yell "Track!" to indicate to a runner who is being passed to move to an outside lane. At TRF, we find it safer for everybody to remember to position themselves in the proper lane from the start and to hold their positions if somebody needs to pass.
- Pay attention to instructions from the coaches at the beginning of each workout to understand which lanes are being used for what purpose. During Step Into Running sessions, for example, TRF members will typically be directed to use lanes 1 through 5, while Step Into Running participants will use lanes 6 through 8 for run/walk workouts. Again, the faster TRF members will use lanes 1 and 2.
|Find your happy pace and place on the track!|
- There’s another part of good organization that goes beyond which lane people are in. At the start of each interval, the fastest people are at the front, medium-speed people are in the middle, and everybody else lines up behind them. It’s so important for safety that those of us who are not super fast don’t start too far forward. Crowding is a bigger issue at the start of each interval than later on when our different speeds cause a natural spacing as we get strung out along the track. As a back-of-the-pack runner, I sometimes have a perfect view of the trouble ahead of me that can cause a risk for injury as faster runners are forced to swerve around people or pull up short, all of which can cause unnecessary collisions. If you find that you need to pass people early, start further up next time. Conversely, if people are going around you by the first turn, starting further back next time is advisable. Where to start must be evaluated through the workout and adjusted.
- We stagger the start when we run our fastest, shortest intervals. Starting in two groups, 10 seconds apart, makes it easier for everyone to run at their proper pace for the entire interval. Both groups contain people along the entire continuum of speed within the club, and we still line up with the fastest runners at the front.
Karen London is a member of the Team Run Flagstaff board of directors.