Track Running 101
By Jeff Galloway
Whether you’re taking your first steps as a runner or trying to improve your speed, a track can be a safe, convenient place to run. There are no cars to contend with, many tracks are lighted, the synthetic surface cushions your joints, and the measured distance makes it easy to monitor your pace. But beginners often steer clear of running on the local oval because they’re intimidated—unsure of the rules and etiquette. Here’s all you need to know to run in circles safely.
Typically, counterclockwise. Some tracks alternate directions daily—check for posted rules or follow the lead of other runners.WHICH LANE DO I USE?
Most runners should utilize the two outermost lanes. The three inside lanes are reserved for faster runners and those who are doing speed workouts. Walkers should use the far outside lane.HOW LONG IS ONE LAP?
The standard distance of the innermost lane is 400 meters. The outermost lane can be up to 50 meters longer.
HOW DO I PASS OTHER RUNNERS?
Assuming a normal, counterclockwise pattern, pass on the right.
DO I HAVE TO PAY TO USE A TRACK?
Most tracks are free; however, their hours may be restricted when they’re affiliated with a school.
WHEN IS A TRACK OFF LIMITS?
During track meets or organized practices. However, some teams will allow recreational runners to use the outside lane during their workouts. When in doubt, ask.
CAN I RUN WITH AN IPOD?
It’s up to you. If you choose to run with music, you should keep one ear free so you’re aware of your surroundings and runners coming up behind you.
DO I NEED SPECIAL SHOES?
Unless you’re a very fast competitor, wear your regular running shoes.