Tuesday Track: Step Down Ladder

Last night track workout was a “Step Down Sets” or also called descending ladder workout.  It was a really hot and humid day, Gina & I were kind of dreading going to run hard in such a hot night but it was 100% worth it!

A ladder workout is an effective way to build speed and endurance for running,  maximizing your gains for maximal running performance.  A ladder workout is running different distances in a progression.  For example,  you’d run 200 meters, then 400 meters, then 600 meters, then 800 meters or  800m-1200m-1600m.  What we did last night was an “inverted ladder” where we run the longest distance first and then worked down to a shorter distance.   In this workout, the focus is on running hard on tired legs.  As far as pace goes, you start out at your 5K pace and you want to increase your pace as you descend the ladder. With each step down, you basically run the lap faster than the preceding interval.

First we Warmed up jogging 4 laps around the track, total of a mile.  Then our group did 2 sets of the following:

  • 1 x 1600 at THRESHOLD pace (1:00 Rest)
  • 1 x 800 at INTERVAL pace (2:00 Rest)
  • 1 x 400 at REPEAT pace (lap jog Recovery)

At the end of the second set we cooled down with 2 laps around the track.

Before I tell you more about the workout let me explain a couple of terminology used  here:

  • LACTATE THRESHOLD (LT) pace – This is the pace you could race at for about one hour.  Workouts using THRESHOLD pace are to promote strength and also to increase your tolerance to lactic acid buildup in your muscles.  They are also called Anaerobic Threshold workouts.
  • INTERVAL pace – The pace you race at for about 3K or 2 miles. Workouts using Interval pace are to promote aerobic capacity (also called VO2MAX), the ability for your body to take in oxygen to the bloodstream.  Basically, by the end of each interval you should be breathing very hard, and as the workout continues you will start to breathe heavy earlier in the interval.
  • REPEAT pace – The pace at which you could race 1 mile all-out. These kind of workouts are to promote good running form along with running efficiency and economy. These are not all out sprints! Don’t do them too fast and lose proper running form or you will defeat the purpose of the workout.

Here is what our workout looked like:

  • 1600 meters  which is 4 times around the track at THRESHOLD pace.  Our group treshold pace  is 7:02 us but we ended up doing it in 6:50.  You might feel like you could do it faster, but that will come back to hurt later on in the workout.
  • Rest for only 1 minute.   We kept moving our legs walking around during this period.
  • 800 meters which is 2 laps around the track at INTERVAL pace. Our group interval pace for 800 meters was 3.12 but we did that too faster.  In general this should be faster paced than the last interval.
  •  Rest for 2 minutes. You probably notice that these rest periods are starting to get painfully short now – if they don’t, you need to run the intervals harder!
  • 400 meters which is 1 lap around the track at REPEAT pace. Our  repeat pace for 400 meter was 1:30 but we did that too few minutes faster.  You should be getting close to a sprint on this one.
  • Jog for 400 meters.
  • Repeat the set another time.

The workout felt really great!!  After I got home, I showered, rewarded myself with an ice cream=)) took care of Dustin that poor baby had a temperature of almost 100, a very bad cold and a nasty cough=(( then I slept like a baby.

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