Racing on the track is such a unique experience. To me, the track is where all things are equal. No hills, no bumpy roadways or potholes. The races are smaller, maybe 15 to 20 runners, instead of 5,000 to 20,000.
The track is where excuses take a back seat to PRs.
It's been proven that the best way to PR is to run even splits from start to finish. Easier said than done. The track affords you the opportunity for constant information. Splits every lap, even every 100 meters if you want. You always know where you're at. You can see everyone in the race all at the same time. It's tactical. The decision to pass someone or fight off someone from passing you is ever-present.
My best 5000M race ever was on the track. The goal was simple (and challenging): run under 15 minutes. My PR going into it was 15:18, and my training had been going well, so I was confident I was ready for a breakthrough. Now 12 1/2 laps around an oval may sound boring, but with the goal of consistent, even splits, boring isn't a bad thing. 15:00 for 5k = 4:48 per mile = 72 seconds per lap. There were about 25 runners in the race, and after 1 lap, I was dead-last. 72 seconds flat. 2 laps in, 2:24; at Mile 1, I hit 4:48 - finally moved out of last place all the way up to second-to-last!!!
Patience, consistency; trust the plan; trust the training.
By Mile 2, I was mid-pack, within a second or so of my goal pace. Now the fun started. Mile 3 was all about passing anyone who wasn't able to stick to the 15-minute pace I had locked in on. Into the top 10, into the top 5, and with 12 laps down...1/2 a lap to go, into the top 3. A final kick landed me at the finish line in 14:55.2 in 3rd place out of the 25 in my heat. That's 71.6 seconds per lap. I didn't think I had a single lap faster than 71 or slower than 73. I caught and passed 22 out of the 24 guys in front of me. And that's why it was my best 5k ever.
The track will always be my favorite race course. No excuses, no bullshit, just racing. Even as the options to race on a track are fewer and far between as an adult, there remains no better place, in my mind, to set a goal and just go for it. So with that, I'll see ya on April 5th at the track!