Area Tracks

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Track Marking

A simple rule of thumb for staggered starts on a track is that each solid-line-stagger after the start represents the stagger for one turn. So, for example, if you are on a 400 meter outdoor track and want to run 200 meters, whichever lane you are in, start at the first solid-line stagger in that lane. If you want to run 400 meters, start at the second solid-line stagger, etc.

Penn State's outdoor track is a 400m track with 48 inch lanes, but has some mile markings as well. On the inside curb before the common finish line, there are 4 equally spaced white arrows that indicate the additional distance needed to run quarter miles up to a mile in lane 1 . To run a quarter-mile, back up to the first arrow and run to the common finish plus one lap. For a half-mile, back up to the second arrow and run to the common finish plus two laps, etc.

There are also some mile markings on the outside unnumbered "warmup" lane. Quarter miles are marked in white on the outside curb from 1/4 to 3 miles. You'll need to count laps to get this right. The 1/4-mile mark is about 60 yards before the common finish line. To run a 1/4-mile in the marked warmup lane, start at the common finish and run counterclockwise to the 1/4-mile mark, 6/7 of a lap. To run a mile in the marked warmup lane, start at the common finish line, run three full laps, then run to the 1-mile mark, for a total of about 3.4 laps.

For an excellent and more complete explanation of track markings, see this site.

This site has a fine online distance calculator to help you figure out how much you've run in any lane for any size track.

PSU IM Building Track

The IM Track is upstairs in the IM building on Curtin Road. This one is 8 laps to the mile. The running area  is really best suited to jogging. The IM building is open 7:30 am to 11 pm.

High School Track and Cross Country Course

The State College High School Outdoor Track is a fine track, renovated with a new polyurethane surface in the summer of 2001, and is a little less exposed to the wind. It's on the hill behind the High School and Welch Pool. It's almost the same distance from Rec Hall as the Penn State track (about 1-1/2 miles). Local adults use the high school track, especially when the Penn State track is closed for events like the Special Olympics.

The State College High School 5K Cross Country Couse consists of several loops around the fields and on the hills behind the High School and Welch Pool.  Here is a map of the course:

PSU Rec Hall Track

Penn State's University Park campus has a banked indoor track at Rec Hall that is open to anyone. It was resurfaced in 1998, but unlike the track at the Multi-Sport Facility, it is a hard surface. The track is most popular with joggers, especially those unaccustomed to "the elements". Occasionally, a speed-demon will be seen doing pace work. Another popular Rec Hall exercise is stair climbing on the steps for the stands that surround the gym below the track. Rec Hall is open 7 am to 11 pm (although there is some competition with gym classes and team sports events).

The track is 257 yards around, as measured 18 inches in from the rail (about where you'd run). This translates to 6.85 laps/mile. So, for example, a 5K = 21.25 laps; 4 miles = 27.4 laps.

Note: By a convention that is posted on the walls around the track, runners are to circle the track clockwise on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and counter-clockwise on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. By another Rec Hall convention, walkers and slower runners are asked to stay close to the "inside" of the track, closest to the rail. Walkers wishing to walk two abreast to socialize should walk the hallway that is on the floor directly below the track. It is about the same distance per lap.

There are are metal signs marking distances posted on the walls surrounding the track. These signs are quite old and harken back to the days when track distances were generally given in yards and fractions of a mile. If you are doing pace work, you might want to use these signs to measure, for example, your quarter mile times. To use the signs, you need to know where the starting line is. The starting line is the only thing that isn't obviously marked! To find it, head up the steps to the track at the center of the scoreboard that is on the end of the track closest to the main (Burrowes Street) entrance to Rec Hall. At the top of the steps, go right a couple of yards. (Be careful to look for oncoming runners!) On the concrete lip that surrounds the inner part of the track, there is a well-worn white mark with the word "Start", still legible in black. It is directly behind Seat 12 on the top row. This is the start line for the marked distances if you run the track counter-clockwise. If you start at this line, just before completing one lap you will see a sign for 220 yards. You will have run 330 yards after about a lap and a quarter. The signs then continue in quarter-mile (440 yard) increments up to 2 miles. There are a few signs missing. Most notably, the "1 Mile" sign seems to have dropped off. You can still see its "ghost" just before the "220" sign, about 85% of the way around the track. Run 6 laps and then this extra 85% and you will have run a mile. If you are really into precision, you will see a mark similar to the start mark on the lip near each sign, marking the distance down to the Angstrom. Because of the convention noted above, you can really only use the signs on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

If you are just out to run some laps, but still want to keep track of your pace, you can use the following pace chart to convert your lap time to a per-mile pace.

Lap Time (sec)
Mile Pace (min/mile)