Monday, July 6, 2009

Breaking 2-Minutes

Here's an excerpt from this article that talks about training for the 800m.  

Best 800m = (400m + 6seconds) x 2
This seems to apply to the distance type runner quite well. The high school sprinter-type appears to lack the necessary strength to fufill this predictability equation.

This essentially breaks down the race into two components:  the all out 400m time (speed component) and the 'added factor' or (strength component).  Obviously, the more of an endurance trained runner you are, (800m/1500m type) the better you'll do w/ the strength component compared to the guy who is more speed oriented (400m/800m type)

While it's probably better to view this 'added factor' more in terms of percentage of 400m time (as opposed to an absolute number), 6-seconds is a good target for a time around 2-minutes (54 + 6) x 2 as this would correspond to about an 11% slow down vs 400m time.

Looking at many of the Masters 800m runners - this 'factor' varies from +9%, which would be excellent to +25%, which is obviously very poor and indicates that those guys are really 400m runners who just decided to do an 800m for the hell of it.  

Being that I don't have an exact 400m race time at this point, I can't say for sure where I'm at, but all indications are that I've got some work to do to get down to 6-seconds.  On the bright side, I believe my 400m speed is pretty close to the 54 target.  

While I'll never be an 'endurance' or 'strength' type of runner, I believe if I continue to work aggressively on this side that I can eventually get this 'factor' down into the +10-12% range.  And of course, if I can get my 400m time under 54, it will make things that much easier on the strength side of the equation.  

Consequently, to give myself the best chance to get to 2-minutes, I'm going to need to work hard on both speed and strength - so this training plan will have several components that work on each.  Although there is obviously some crossover benefit to certain components, this roughly divides the training into the separate compartments:

Speed:  plyometrics, box jumps, hill repeats, Rep/short interval training (mile race pace work down to 600m race pace work), power-lifting, sprint work (400m race pace work on down), lactate tolerance training 

Strength:  weekly mileage, long runs, steady runs, tempo runs, cruise intervals (5k pace work), long intervals (3k pace work), lactate tolerance training  (this training helps everything)

Each of these components will have their time and place where they'll be a point of focus, and the overall mix will follow a progression throughout the year.  The bottom line is that if I'm going to hit the target, I'm going to need to have the speed to run an all out 400m in the 53.5 - 53.8 range, and the endurance/strength to be able to hold close to 90% of that speed for the full half mile.  

This sure as hell isn't going to be easy - I'm going to need to make improvements in all areas, and I'm also going to have to work more on things like core strength, flexibility, etc in order to be able to train at the required intensities when that time comes to bring it all together.  At the very least, the journey should be interesting, and if (knock on wood) I can avoid any major set backs I should be able to make a pretty good run at this thing.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Enjoying my time off - birthday #41 came yesterday.  I've been re-reading Peter Coe's 'Winning Running' which goes through Seb Coe's typical training year - really good stuff for middle distance runners.  Coe's first phase of training every year was to take a month completely off.  (some guys took off more time than that)  I won't be taking off that much time (2-3 weeks for me) but the legs are feeling very refreshed w/ the 10-days I've taken thus far.

I've got a good idea as to how my training is going to be structured.  Some new things will be added that I haven't done before.  First off, I'll be adding swiss ball and BOSU exercises (stability half sphere that you stand on) into my core routine as well as assorted plank exercises.  Hopefully this will strengthen my core even more to reduce the chances of injury.  I've also added a stretching routine for the hip flexors to keep the hips loose.  

Additionally, I've gathered up several box jump and plyometric exercises that I'll be starting soon.  These routines along w/ the power-lifting exercises (squats, dead lifts, and power cleans) will add strength and power which should increase my speed.   

As I mentioned previously, there will be more of an emphasis on increasing my speed through plyos, box jumps, power-lifting, and sprint work (much later in the training).  Being that most of this additional work doesn't actually involve running (until the sprint work later), I'll be able to do much of this work while in the base phase where the focus will be increasing my weekly mileage from the 35-40 mpw up into the 50s or 60s.  (using De Castella's weekly training as a model w/ some influences from Coe and El Guerrouj)  So while the mileage won't consist of the very intense peak training - not all of those 50+ miles will be easy.  A lot of steady runs, hills, tempo, etc.  

My experience thus far has been that the paces from 5k pace and slower don't really wear on my body so much (I've run at a 'steady' pace of 6:40 or so every day - even on the longer 12-13 mile runs w/o it bothering me)  So the idea here will be to seriously work on both my speed (at the gym) and my endurance (on the trails) at the same time while strengthening my core w/ the swiss ball, BOSU, plank exercises, etc.  

Using Coe's yearly training as a model, I'll be able to break down the training into stages which will dictate mileage, intensities, etc for each time period.  I won't be putting together a detailed long term plan as this thing will be very flexible depending on how I'm feeling.  The important thing for me is that I have a good idea of how I want the overall training to go and I'll just operate w/ that framework in mind.

In the next post I'll break down what I believe it will take for me to hit a 2-flat 800m, and how each part of the training will hopefully do its part to get me there.  

Have a safe and happy 4th!