Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Looking for a track to run on?

Like many of you, I have a running routine.

During the week, I get out the door at 6:30 a.m. and do a couple-three laps around a 2-mile loop that winds through my subdivision and a neighboring one. On Saturdays, I hit the Mallard and Clark's Creek Greenways in UCity with my running group and put in about 10 miles or so.

It's a pleasant routine -- but lately, I've been thinking I need to spice it up a bit.

I think about this, in fact, every time a training program in Runner's World (or in one of the various "how-to-train-better" books I own) lays out guidelines for doing workouts on a track.

The benefits of running on a track are clear: The softer surface reduces the risk of injury (or helps you recover from one); tracks make it easier to measure your distance; and they're great for speed work, since the flat surface allows you to accelerate quickly and maintain your fastest paces.

Yet in the eight months since I started running, I've never been on a track myself. And part of the reason is that while the articles and books I've read tell you how to run track workouts, they don't tell you where the nearest usable track is.

Fortunately, I recently discovered some tips on just this subject, buried deep within the Charlotte Running Company's Web site. Here they are:

"If you're looking to run on the track, many runners use the facilities at Myers Park High School at 2400 Colony Road. The track is eight lanes and asphalt. Providence Day School on Sardis Road has a six-lane ground tire rubber track, and the public is almost always welcome. Rubberized or synthetic tracks are also available at UNC-Charlotte (world-class facility), Davidson College, Charlotte Christian School, Charlotte Latin, Charlotte Country Day, West Charlotte, Vance H.S., and Butler H.S. We recommend not trying to get on these schools tracks between 2:30 and 5 p.m. because of their practices. You may also want to call ahead to make sure that the public is welcome."
Have you used any of these tracks? If so, do you have tips or advice regarding public access (or the quality of the surface)? Can you recommend other facilities not listed above? And how often do you go to the track? Once a week? Once a month? What kind of workout do you do?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

A better alternative for speedwork....McMullen Creek Greenway. Milage signs are every 1/4 mile (and they are very accurate) and it runs 5 3/4 miles long. Unless you are doing 100's and 200's, a track in unnessasary. The greenway is flat (not track flat, but flat).

Plus in the summer, the greenway is shaded.

Anonymous said...

There is an outdoor track at the Harris YMCA. Its not a traditional oval track like those listed in the posting. It is hard packed dirt, flat, and the sign posted by it says its 0.5 mile around, and I think its close to that. Its open to the public. Its a great option if you are looking to do 1/2 or 1 mile repeats.

Jason said...

Does anyone know about Mallard Creek High School's track? This is located closer to me. I'd love to some track work too but just didn't know where to go.

XtremeRunner said...

Alexander Grahmn Middle off of runnymeade and colony is an option. It's not really rubber but it will do. It is also just a bit short, so if you are doing over a mile you have to run in lane 2 the whole way. Lots of people hit the track to get in a good workout though.
-the harris ymca dirt track is great but i wouldn't go to that track trying to hit goal times that you may on a normal track. You will be slower because of slipping slightly on the dirt and dodging people, but its so much easier on your body.

Anonymous said...

Eastway Middle School has a nice track. In general, you can run there unless they have a track meet or football game.

jfsavage said...

I used to use the green UNCC track before they tore it up. The new track at UNCC is very nice, but I'm not sure if it is open to the public. When I do speed work, I generally use the Mallard Creek Greenway, which has 1/4 mile markers. There is one spot by the Winchester pool where someone has marked 110 yard markers (1/16 mile).

Anonymous said...

I have used the Charlotte Christian and Charlotte Latin tracks. Both are great facilities and I have never had a problem getting access.

Anonymous said...

The track at JC Smith is another option. I have never used it b/c I'm closer to some others, but some running groups/clubs used to meet there on a weekly basis in the past.

Anonymous said...

There's a track at the The Marion Diehl Center (2219 Tyvola Road).

Anonymous said...

Unless I'm mistaken, just about any public school track is accessible during daylight hours, unless school is in session or there is an event. I've used the one at Community House Middle School and there's a sign posted that basically states what I said (public access during daylight hours)

Melissa said...

I haven't used any tracks here in Charlotte but I have found that using track workouts for training has always improved my endurance and SPEED!! I have been running since 1998 and when I add the track workouts for intervals once or twice a week mixed with hill repeats my speed increased tremendously!