Ugh, winter. Every runner has a different way of coping with the cold temperatures, slick roads, hiding sunlight, and sparse racing opportunities. But we must power through it if we’re going to get ready for that spring goal race! Group runs, hot beverages, and headlamps certainly make training possible. But if you really want to step outside your comfort zone this winter, step inside… to the indoor track. An indoor track is just slightly smaller (usually 200-300 meters in length), but otherwise the same familiar, lane-lined, oval. But it’s the one NOT covered in slippery calf-deep snow this time of year. AND many universities have indoor tracks and indoor track meets a few times per year. When you just can’t take another tempo on the treadmill, the indoor track is the perfect place to get in a winter workout in a friendly, controlled environment. Still not convinced? Well, here are five signs that you’re ready to warm things up on the indoor track this winter.
1. You love a cheap date. While road races fees climb, at a track meet, you pay $10-20 and can run not one, not two but up to FOUR races. That means you and a friend can both get in, string together a few shorter races, call it a workout, and still have money to spare for brunch (or drinks) afterwards.
2. You’re a cougar on the prowl. At most college indoor track meets, anyone can pay the entry fee and run “unattached.” So most of the runners aren’t of legal drinking age and the oldest competitor is probably 23 or 24 at most. This is the perfect time to drop phrases like “Honey, I’m old enough to be your mother” or “What school do I go to? I graduated 10 years ago” and enjoy the astonished looks, followed by incredible respect. You get a chance to role model life-long fitness to young women. And as one of my indoor track buddies used to say, “you’re going to have the nicest wedding ring on the starting line.” If not, maybe you’ll get invited to a frat party.
3. You need to shave your legs. I know it’s been weeks since your legs have seen the light of day. And you’re spending a lot of time in jeans, thermal knee high socks and boots when you’re not running. Maybe you tell yourself that the hair provides an extra layer of insulation for cold days. But, show up to an indoor track meet in split-shorts and you’ll be overdressed. This is the place to wear the shortest shorts you own and let the light reflect off your pasty, white legs. Many of the youngins will be in bun-huggers, so the shorter the better. And your husband/boyfriend/partner called and wants you to shave your legs.
4. You’re craving some girl-on-girl action. Unlike road races which are almost always mixed gender, indoor track races are rarely, if ever, co-ed. All those ladies will be vying for lane 1 on a 6-lane, 70 degree oval in their booty shorts. Sweat beads rolling down their bare thighs. Their glistening bodies bumping as they knock off lap after lap, never seeming to tire. They just keep going and going and going… Is it just me or is it suddenly getting hot in here?
5. You want a different kind of fast finish. When it’s cold we all have some of the same favorite other *ahem* indoor activities. You’ve been doing some other interval training. Maybe you’ve tapped into some turnover… or had a few fast finishes. Maybe you’ve been out-kicked to the finish line. Shall I go on? So it may be your first time on the indoor track but, you’ve been training for this! There is no need to be afraid of a little speed. You may not be the fastest lady on the line, but at a smaller college, you are probably not going to be the slowest either.
Thinking about giving indoor track a try? Check out your closest university’s athletics page to see if they host indoor track meets. Then just call the coach and see if you can jump in the race. They want your $10 so they usually say yes. And bring a friend. Because everything is more fun with a group.