4 ways to get in the spirit and increase your speed

As a former high school track runner, I'm always excited to watch the track and field events in the Summer Olympics. I'll also be catching some of the heart-pounding action at the US Olympic Trials that are being held throughout the week in Eugene, OR. Excited for the Olympics as much as I am? Here are four ways to get into the spirit at your own local track.

1. Sprint intervals: Make those laps a little more interesting (and more fat-blasting!) by incorporating sprint intervals in your normal routine. Try this sprint interval workout on the track to start feeling your Olympic best.

2. Take the stairs: Channel those high school P.E. class drills by using the bleachers as your workout. Running up stairs burns about 100 calories in 11 minutes and will also tone and strengthen your lower half.

3. On your mark: Wanna spice up your everyday run? It's time to get competitive. Take advantage of your track's lane setup to have a little friendly competition. Race your workout buddy or, if you're by yourself, compete with your fellow track runners without them even knowing by seeing if you can outpace or outrun them - no one will be the wiser. If besting strangers isn't your thing, record your track times to race against your personal bests. We've got more ways to compete - even if you're alone - here.

4. Negative splits: The track is the perfect setting to get serious with your runs. Incorporating negative splits, or the practice of running faster during the second half of your run, into your workout helps improve your endurance and speed and is an important strategy, especially if you're training for a Fall race. Running in a track loop makes negative splits easy; if you're running for three miles for example, just increase your speed after your sixth lap. Check out more ideas for incorporating negative splits into your runs here.