This Track Practice Workout Will Bring Back Your High School Sports Glory Days

Unleash your inner athlete at Kasey Manwaring's GoalsFit track practice.

Photograph by Caroline Cunningham.

There’s something very nostalgic about hitting up a high school track for your workout. Maybe it was the warm spring weather that reminded me of pre-season soccer practices, or perhaps it was the camaraderie and sense of team among the attendees at Kasey Manwaring’s GoalsFit track practice. But stepping onto the field, I was suddenly flooded with memories from high school sports, in the best possible way.

Manwaring — a personal trainer who leads both boot camps and race training programs — hosts Tuesday night running workouts on the track at Roxborough High School. Showing up for my first session on the track with Manwaring I was, quite honestly, terrified. Manwaring has a reputation for tough workouts focusing on speedwork — tough enough that a fitness professional (and Manwaring devotee) told me she gets the “Tuesday night terrors” and looks out the window praying for lighting every Tuesday afternoon.

That said, there was a detectable happy buzz around the group when I arrived at the track. The attendees were chatty, greeting one another with hugs like old friends. They had a reason to be a little lighthearted that night: As it was the last training session before the Broad Street Run, Manwaring would be going a little easier on us.

The workout began with a warm up jog — seven minutes down the road away from the track, seven minutes back. People chatted as they ran, natural forming clusters around those whose strides matched their own. When we arrived back at the track, that’s when the real work began.

Manwaring lined us up, and told us we were in for four 400 meter dashes — or four full loops around the track. Glancing at her stop watch, she sent us on our way.

As we started down the track, my natural sense of competition kicked in. Here’s the thing no one tells you about graduating out of high school or college sports: It’s pretty hard to find a place to push yourself with some friendly competition once you’re no longer on a sports team. But on the Roxborough track, I suddenly found myself right back on the soccer field, doing sprints. And I decided then and there: That girl in the pink shorts was not going to beat me.

We were also competing against ourselves. At the completion of each lap, Manwaring would call out our individual times — motivating me to get just a little faster with each go-around.

By the time we moved onto the second set of sprints — four 200-meter dashes — I was in full-on competitive monster mode. While most of my runs are at a comfortable nine-minute-ish per mile, Manwaring had me flat-out sprinting. The combination of wanting to beat my time — and wanting to beat that guy in the yellow shirt — had me pushing myself harder than I ever would have on my own.

By the end of the workout, my legs were toasted, and I now understood the love-hate relationship so many feel towards Manwaring’s track practices. Was it challenging? Yes. Was it fun? Yes. Would I go back? Oh heck yes.

Just because it’s an environment where people push themselves doesn’t mean you need to be a natural-born runner to attend Manwaring’s sessions. In fact, she’s worked with many who had never run before and trained them for marathons. While her Broad Street Run training program has just wrapped up, her six-month marathon training program — ideal for first-timers — is about to begin. You can find more info on it here — or print out a free class pass to try Tuesday night track out for yourself.

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