Sweaty Speed Sessions: Ladder Track Workout

Sweaty Speed Sessions: Ladder Track Workout

A few years ago, I used to help coach a regular ‘Sweaty Speed Sessions’ run club. It was put on by Sweaty Betty at Regent’s Park Track on a Wednesday evening and the sessions were free and open to runners of all abilities.

I noticed a real benefit from the regular speed training and over the course of a few weeks, everyone’s 100 metre times really improved. It was so motivating to see the sessions paying off in such a short amount of time and the girls speeding up! I remember I’d usually try to get to the track a little early to complete some speedwork of my own, then help with the session.

Normally the sessions would start off with a warm up, then we’d take part in some games together. If there were an odd number of runners, I’d join in too! My favourite was a game that involved running around some cones, meeting up with someone in the middle, high fiving, then sprinting back to the start.

Sweaty Speed Sessions: Ladder Track Workout

We also completed a ladder drill, which inspired me to create this Ladder Track Workout. It’s a great interval workout, involving intense runs of different lengths, followed by a rest period. You go ‘up the ladder’, with intervals of increasing distance, then come back down again. Keep reading for more info on how to complete the workout!

Whilst I’m very far from completing speed workouts right now (I’m doing all easy running currently – check out last week’s training post) I am looking forward to when I can involve speed work again. I miss my old track days with friends where we used to meet at Paddington Track on Tuesday mornings at 7am!

Ladder Track Workout

The Benefits of Interval Training

Before we fully get into how you do a ladder workout, I just want to quickly run through the benefits of this kind of training. Whatever your goal race distance – whether you’re marathon training or want to improve your 5k pace – you’ll see huge benefits from interval training.

  • Increase speed: If you want to get faster, you need to run faster. Completing short, sharp intervals (typically maxing out at 1600 metres/1 mile for long intervals) will help boost your overall pace during longer runs.
  • Learn to run at race pace: If you want to run a whole race (whatever the distance) at a certain pace, it’s massively helpful if you know exactly how that pace feels going into it. Running intervals is a good way to start learning this.
  • Get used to feeling uncomfortable: Let’s not beat around the bush – going all guns blazing and really putting your all into a race is hard. You’re going to feel uncomfortable at times and getting used to that sensation is going to be really helpful.
  • It’s time efficient: It can be hard to fit in lots of long runs around work/family/generally having a life. Interval sessions give you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a case of quality over quantity here: you don’t need to be out pounding the pavements for hours at a time to see huge improvements.

Benefits of Ladder Track Workout

How to complete the ladder track workout 

So, you know why you’re doing it – now I can tell you how. Something I love about this ladder workout is that it’s pretty simple. As long as you can count, you can run ladders! 

Essentially the workout looks like this:

Warm up

10 minutes easy jog

Intervals:

100m hard / 100m easy
200m hard / 200m easy
300m hard / 300m easy
400m hard / 400m easy
800m hard / 400m easy
800m hard / 400m easy
400m hard / 400m easy
300m hard / 300m easy
200m hard / 200m easy
100m hard / 100m easy

Cool down:

10 minutes easy jog

You want to be completing each interval at a high intensity, then following those sprints with a light jog of the same distance (except for after the 800 intervals where you only do a 400 metre recovery). These jogs give you a chance to recover between intervals and for your heart rate to come down. Put your ego aside for these and run as slow as you need to in order to have the energy to really go for it on the next interval.

It’s easiest to run ladders on a track where the distances are clearly marked out for you but you can also do it just using your watch to track the intervals. If there’s a stretch of path or loop of the park you know is a certain distance, you could also just use that. This workout is also a good one on the treadmill – perfect while it’s icy outside at the moment.

Have you tried the ladder workout? What’s your favourite interval session? 

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