Training for the 800/1600m

Posted In: The Classics

  • Avatar
    400stud on #8581

    I have a friend who does the 800m and the 1600m and he needs some help in setting up his training schedule. Right now he plays soccer and for indoors he doesn’t know which one he wants to concentrate on more…the 8 or 16.

    He’s a senior and his 1600m is 5:30 and hasn’t run the 800m yet. He’s going up from the 400m (62 PR).

    Can you guys give him some ideas on how to setup micros for each phase and maybe some training ideas for him. It’s his Sr. year and he wants to do well.


    midpackmag on #22236

    before offering suggestions: 2 questions– when does soccer season end? what meets are on his schedule for indoor (dates please)?

    Mike Young
    Mike Young on #22237

    Soccer is a great lead in for the 800m. As for setting up micros, I think one possible setup would be to perform a similar setup to a long sprinter but increase the volumes and decrease the intensities. Here's an example (running workouts only):

    Mon: 6 x 300m @ goal race pace
    Tues: 20' Continuous Tempo
    Wed: 12 x 150m
    Thurs: 20' Fartlek or Extensive tempo
    Fri: 2 x 250m, 2 x 200m
    Sat: Extensive tempo

    ELITETRACK Founder

    delldell on #22238

    pardon my ignorance but what is 20' fartlek and continous tempo?

    Mike Young
    Mike Young on #22239

    Fartlek means speed play. It is continuous running with varied paces. Traditionally the pace is varied based on how the athlete feels but time and speed controlled fartlek are also a possibility. An example of the former would be going out for a 20 minute run and whenever you feel like jogging you jog, when you feel like sprinting you sprint, when you feel like running at 70% you do so, and so on. An example of the latter would be going out for a 20 minute run consisting of a 4 minute warmup, and alternating 1 minute hard and 3 minutes easy. Continuous tempo is basically what a sprinter would call a distance run. See the FAQ section for a more detailed description.

    ELITETRACK Founder

    midpackmag on #22240

    i like what mike offers— but for the 1600 i tend to incorporate 600's, 750's and 900's. either an up-the-ladder;down-the-ladder or repeats @tempo pace. still think there should be a min. 25miles/week base. also, like 20 min. of fartleks on the track (sprint the curve-jog/run the straightaway or vice versa); i work repeats much more— min. 6-8 300's in one session; also can do 200-250-300-250-400— then back down; or another FAVORITE is run a 200; jog the backstretch- do another 200 then jog 400 for recovery— do 4 sets of (2-200's) get it? also, 150's off the final curve for pure form is a good thing.

    Mike Young
    Mike Young on #22241

    Good points Mag-
    Perhaps I should have clarified that that the recommended micro setup I gave was only if the person was going to do the 800m. I'd up the interval lengths and increase the continous tempo quite dramatically for the mile because general endurance and fitness are undoubtedly the biggest factors for success and speed is really only of primary importance when you get to championship level racing (i.e. being able to finish a mile in 48 seconds).

    ELITETRACK Founder

    midpackmag on #22242

    keith: fairly intense— when do incoporate rest days— no running

    Mike Young
    Mike Young on #22243

    [i]Originally posted by DIII Coach[/i]
    After I wrote my last post a thought came to me that I would share now. I don't mean to imply that the program Mike suggested wouldn't work. It very well might work better than what I wrote given the fact that the kid might be coming into the program a bit short on mileage and a bit broken down after a hard season of wrestling. So, in this case, there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat.

    I was actually thinking the same thing about your post. Sometimes my training advice for middle distance athletes is biased by the fact that I only train speed and power athletes now, hence the low volume and higher intensity runs. In my younger days, I ran the open 800m quite a bit and often trained how you suggested (which hurt my decathlon performances…..I was a big dummy back then). Also, my first coaching position was actually as a XC coach and we did what would be considered by many HS programs to be high milage (55+ mpw) with quite a bit of fast running thrown in and we were very successful. But as I've said a couple times before on this board, the 800m is unlike any other event because you could be equally successful at it coming from both directions (speed or endurance) depending on the particular talents of the athlete. As such, any advice for this event is probably only as good as the familiarity of the coach with the athlete.

    ELITETRACK Founder

    dark-knight on #22244

    Not trying to rain on anyone's parade…Actually, I wasn't going to say anything, but here I go….

    An aerobic base is MANDATORY in events from 800m and above. This aerobic base must be achieved through both continuos runs and intervals (i.e. ext. tempo). Continuos runs increase maximum oxygen uptake (VO2), while interval runs improve the efficiency of the system!

    Just like weight training is key in developing maximum strength, so is continuos runs in developing maximum oxygen uptake!

    While Observing elite 800m runnersâ?? train, Iâ??ve noticed that they do continuos runs in the morning and intervals in the afternoon.

    Neglecting continuous runs is a BIG mistake!

    Mike Young
    Mike Young on #22245

    Dark Knight-
    I totally agree with you about the continuous runs. The debate however is not "yes or no" but "how much?" What would be the minimal milage requirement for an 800m runner considering the point that 800m runners may be coming from either speed or endurance backgrounds? As for the elite athletes you mentioned, I think it's important to note how they work out but it's equally important to note that to be elite at the 800m you are neither a fast guy or an endurance guy… are probably an unbelievable genetic freak with the capacity for both; and as such can train that way with no problem.

    Also, I should probably clarify on the workout suggestion I posted above that it is running workouts only…..just as it says :D. It doesn't include the many other training variables that would be incorporated to develop general fitness and endurance like extended dynamic warmups, hurdle mobility, general strength, med ball work, etc. Just doing those posted workouts alone with a standard half mile jog and static stretch would probably appear to be extremely minimal but anyone whose done my workouts know that the warmup portion and post running addons may be just as intensive as the actual workout in some cases. Those workouts with my extended dynamic warmups (1600m-2400m) would total to about 20 miles in an in-season week. Do you think this is too little for a HS 800m runner?

    Here are some other questions to keep this discussion going:
    -Should non-elite 800m runners train to focus on their weakness or their strength (i.e- speed or endurance)?
    -What is the minimal amount of milage needed for a half miler at various points of the year?
    -Does the benefits of the milage done during XC season carry over to track season, if so, to what extent?

    ELITETRACK Founder

    dark-knight on #22246


    You make some very interesting points and present good questions.

    Let me say that I am a sprinter and by know mean want to come off like I'm an 800m expert. I was able to train and ask questions of elite mid-distance runners. Also, I am aware that everyone cannot train or manage the same workouts as elite athletes.

    Nevertheless, I learned some important information that can be helpful to ALL 800m runners:

    1) Elite runners maintain their aerobic base by doing 3-5 runs in the a.m. (30+ miles weekly)

    2) Some of the intervals done in the afternoon are intense ex. 12-20x200m@22-24s w90s rest per rep.

    On the benefits of XC. It helps keep your volume up and VO2. Having a short XC (no more than 2 months) might cause you to lose some speed temporarily because of reduced muscular co-ordination and PNS. -as opposed to more permanent fiber changes.

    This makes any changes loss through distance work recoverable, while giving you a higher capacity to handle more volume.

    scroft on #22247

    I think that their strengths are more important to focus on than weakness. I currently have three athletes, two men and one woman that are potential 800m athletes. They will all be sophomores but both guys are returned missionaries. One just off his mission, the other went on a mission out of high school. Their freshmen seasons were all useed to develop speed and see what abilities they had. This year will end up as an experimental year, because of need. They may be forced to help on the 4 x 400 or they may need to run the 800m.
    To facillitate both they have begun doing very short continuous runs that will hopefully begin to act as a base. The continuous runs will get longer and faster throughout the year. My plan right now is to eliminate slower intervals and replace them with the continuous runs. Track days will then focus on speed development and specific speed in relation to 400m/800m needs of each individual.
    As of now it is a very broad plan with a lot of experimentation to follow, for example I am not sure there is a minimum mileage requirement without first determining how the road runs will effect each individual. I am looking forward to the experiment.

    Another point is racing strategy, the 800m has a definite strategic component that is a new dynamic for a 400m runner and can effect progress or confuse the training progress.

    CoachKW on #22248

    I think I see where you are going with this Dark Knight. I have had success with 800 runners using an endurance based program and a speed based program. Yes, there is always a base phase or period to be sure. But, one of the keys to success is determining which kind of 800 runner you are dealing with. Bob Parks has said that he doesn't want the type of 800 runner who is too slow for the 400 and not strong enought for the 1500. Ideally, you'd want to have someone who is good at both in order to conquer the 800. Seb Coe and Joaquim Cruz come to mind as the closest to brilliant in both, but we are not talking about an elite athlete in this case.

    Some people favor the Lydiard approach in which your base period is nearly exclusively devoted to endurance workouts. An approach favored by Seb Coe is a multi tiered program which gives you most all elements of training within a 10 day–> 2 week time frame and quality speed efforts are done year round. I tend to be in the balanced program camp as I think it is the training that is best suited to the demands of the race. The complexion of the quality days will change as time goes on, but the scheme is the same with work done at 5 different race paces during each microcycle. I find this method really helps people get through meets with rounds, but I digress.

    As to Mike's questions:
    1) I've always found that the off seasons were the best time to work on weaknesses. As an athlete, I actually worked on my speed and special endurance in the summer. I could do that because we didn't have cross country at Kent then, but I would recommend it even if you do run cc as an 800 runner.

    2) Minimal mileage could vary. For a 1500/800 runner it's probably going to be higher than for a 400/800 runner. With endurance training, I have found that it takes a bit more mileage each year to elicit the same results, but there is a point of diminishing returns. One thing sticks in my mind is something I once read-do enough mileage for the task. That is to say, don't do mileage just to show big impressive numbers in a training log, but do enough to handle the work you need to do in order to be as fast as you can be over your prime distance(s). It's tough to put hard numbers on it.

    3) The benefits should carry over, but I would make sure that you don't overdo the attempts to have the strength carry over. As a sprinter sometimes uses the 4 x 4 to gain special endurance during the indoor season, I would use the cross races as tempo efforts and not be too concerned about training too specifically for cc. I don't think it's cc that diminishes speed so much as it's neglecting speed in your training.

    In general, I've always felt that one of the training keys is to be able to handle relatively high intensity with rather minimal recovery.

    dark-knight on #22249


    Very good info. Two of the points you made are:

    1) "I don't think it's cc that diminishes speed so much as it's neglecting speed in your training."

    2)"In general, I've always felt that one of the training keys is to be able to handle relatively high intensity with rather minimal recovery."

    Point (1) puts into perspective that its mainly the lack of speed work that diminishes speed as oppose to JUST too much low intensity work volume.

    Point (2) really applies to track as a whole. Being able to handle high intensity in the environment of endurance is important for all events from 100 to marathon -with relative degrees of intensity/endurance dependant on event type.

    And of course, you've pointed out some important elements involved in achieving the aforementioned point(s) for the 800/1500m runner.

    Good stuff!

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 34 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.