Deciphering Speed Workouts at the UNC Track

Thanks for all your great comments on my post yesterday about how to stay healthy when you’re busy! If you haven’t already read the great responses, go check them out. Some awesome advice! One thing a reader mentioned that I forgot to include was to make exercise part of the journey! I try to walk everywhere I can, always take the stairs, and when I worked full time I used to walk during my lunch break, too. Some days I walked up to 4 miles! It was such a nice de-stressor.


Another one of the best tips from you all was that while planning is awesome, it’s good to remember to stay flexible, too! I completely agree. In fact, speaking of being flexible, I’m going to change up my half marathon training plan slightly! I originally had my three weekly runs runs scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, but I’ve decided to make it Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday instead. My weekends are super active, between my Saturday long runs and Sunday usually involving some sort of hike or at least being outside/walking a lot, so I found that by Monday my legs were exhausted and NOT ready for another run yet! And on the contrary, by Friday I was wishing I could run because I’d had too many days off in between! So I’ll be making Monday my yoga day instead and pushing my runs to Tuesday and Thursday, still with a rest day on Friday and cross training on Wednesday. I think it will be perfect :)

So, with that in mind — yesterday I did an early morning speed workout at the UNC track!


It makes me so happy that the track here is baby blue, hehe. :)

My friend Jillian had plans to go to the track so I decided to head there with her because, as we discussed yesterday, working out with a friend vs. alone always wins out! Plus, she said she understood when training plans say things like “4×400”, and I wanted her to let me in on the secret. :)


I was always super intimidated by speedwork on paper because I never understood what it meant — well, it turns out it’s much easier than I thought! A 400 is just one lap around the track, or 1/4 mile. So when a speed workout says “4×400”, that just means do four laps around the track, for a total of one mile!

On Jillian’s speedwork plan, she was scheduled to do “6×400”, or six laps around the track (1.5 miles), at a very speedy pace. We jogged to the track (and home at the end) from her house, which is about a mile away, to give ourselves a nice warm up and cool down, and we also decided to add in an extra lap in between each speed lap to give ourselves a bit of recovery time. So here’s what we did:

  • Six laps around the track (400’s) at a 6:30 pace
  • In between each speed lap, do one slow jog/walk lap

We ended up doing a total of 12 laps, or 3 miles. It was a GREAT workout and flew by because it kept us entertained! It felt really good to stretch out my legs and go fast on the soft track, too.


We’ll be continuing speedwork every Tuesday morning and I’m excited :) It was way more fun than just a simple run!

I’m off to school — have a wonderful day! And for those of you that are on Twitter, please join myself and my fellow Attune Foods Ambassadors for the first ever healthy living #attunechat at 12 p.m. EST! The chat will be hosted by Joanna and Carla and we’ll be talking about healthy living goal setting. I hope you can join us :)


  1. 1

    You match the track :) Also – (I feel like maybe I’ve said this before to you) – I also love how their fire trucks are baby blue! :) Made me very happy and I’d freak out like a little kid every time I saw one!

  2. 3

    There’s 2 indoor tracks at my school that I’ll probably use this winter, but 10 laps = 1 miles, and I know I’ll get confused while counting that many laps.

  3. 5

    THANK YOU for explaining how speed sessions work! Unfortunately I don’t have much track access, but I think I could do it with “laps” on a treadmill, right!?

  4. 6

    I love speed work but I usually have to do it on a treadmill. The track at my university is all torn up. :( Booo!!!!

  5. 7

    yay! so happy you discovered the track. i haven’t done speed work since high school so next tuesday morning with you ladies should be interesting!

  6. 8

    Super workout, Anne. And very sensible to put a jog lap between each speed lap and to warm up enoute and warm down at the end. Actually doing six speed laps is a lot, but you apparently weren’t flat out for glory on each one or you’d have started really struggling (and really hurting) by lap four. In any event, nothing brings your race times down faster than speed work — as long as you can avoid injury, which often lurks on tracks. So, well done, and we look forward to tracking your progress (no pun intended!). :-)

    (You might remind those who do laps on a treadmill that times are faster than they’d be on the road, as the “ground” on a treadmill is moving and helping propel the runner a bit faster than would be the case outdoors.)

  7. 9

    Yayy for our blue track! I live two minutes from there (on Franklin). :)

  8. 10

    I was wondering how to incorporate speed workouts with it still being fun. Great tips!

  9. 11

    I just might try that workout. Thanks for explaining, it did seem intimidating before but now I’m pumped. Did you guys walk or jog between laps?

  10. 12

    Very impressive Anne. Don’t know much about training but I can tell you are a ” go getter”. Good luck.

  11. 13

    Thanks, Anne! My half marathon training plan has speed workouts in it too – will definitely try the tip about doing a walk or slow jog between laps.

  12. 14

    I love track workouts. And that track is really pretty!

  13. 15

    I love speed training :-)

  14. 16

    i never know what 4×400 meant either! thank you for clearing that up! :)

  15. 17

    This looks like an awesome track workout! I started doing one speed workout a week about six months ago when I was training for my first half marathon. Since then, I’ve noticed tremendous changes in my overall endurance and my pacing. My previous racing pace is now my comfortable long-run pace. It can be tough sometimes, but I can’t say enough great things about speed workouts!

  16. 19

    Ugh – I hate having to “pace” while doing 400s. It’s definitely one of the many things I hate about Track practice. ;-)

  17. 22

    Yay! Love it. Can’t wait for next Tuesday!

  18. 23

    What kind of track is that Anne. Is it one like the one in Tampa that you liked so much.

  19. 24

    THANK YOU for explaining the whole 4×400 thing, I have so far stayed away from track workouts because I didn’t really understand what that meant. I am now feeling inspired to try a speed workout at my University’s track!


  1. […] excited because we’re definitely getting faster — I think our weekly speed workouts are starting to pay off already! Our first half marathon long training run was 6 miles at […]

  2. […] did the same speed workout we’ve been doing — one super speedy lap (6:30ish pace) followed by one slow jog/recovery lap. Repeat, repeat, […]

  3. […] been out here since training for my second half marathon in March (remember our adventures deciphering speed workout lingo?) — it was time to get back after it […]

  4. […] track. Thanks for the non-slippery miles. You make me miss all the track workouts my friends and I used to do on UNC’s baby blue track in grad school! Maybe I should bring track workouts back […]

  5. […] Lee High School to mix things up and do some speedwork. I used to do track workouts all the time (remember the baby blue UNC track?) – I actually kind of miss […]

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