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Track Training-Differences in Lane Lengths


Track Training-Differences in Lane Lengths

Once you reach a certain point during training, your program will probably call for some type of speed work. A track offers athletes a safe, traffic-free place to train and do speed work with a known distance. Fortunately, most local high school and college tracks will allow the general public to use their facilities, with the provision that they do not use the inside 1, 2 or 3 lanes. This saves wear and tear on an expensive track that already gets plenty of use from the school’s athletes.

Once you have your workout and your track, you are ready to run. Or almost. If you are new to training on a track, the distance you are running on this oval-shaped venue might be a mystery. Outdoor tracks are usually measured in meters and the standard distance is 400 meters. This makes it easy for calculations; four laps around the track totals 1600m, or just short of a mile (9.344 meters short to be exact).

But what if you were to compare a runner doing a workout in the outside lane to a runner doing a workout in the inside lane? Basic reasoning tells us that the further you get from a central point, the larger the circle or oval is to completely surround the point. Have you ever noticed the staggered starting positions of runners in Track and Field events? The lanes differ in length depending on the distance from the central point, and if all runners started at the same place, the inside lane has an automatic advantage over the rest of the field.

Standard track lanes are 1.22m wide; therefore the following lengths apply for one lap of each lane:
1 400m (inside)
2 407.67m
3 415.33m
4 423m
5 430.66m
6 433.38m
7 446m
8 453.66m (outside)

If you find yourself training in the outer lanes at your local track, just be aware that you may not be doing the exact distance you think you are. If you are running in lanes 4-8 then you are probably running further than your workout calls for. But do not despair! The harder you work in training the easier you work on event day.

Written by Paul Jesse

Amateur Endurance