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Hey, in the 800m training thread I like the messages by Joe Fabio or whatever his name was. He wrote:
I've had decent success with 400/800 as well as 800/1500 people, I'll try taking a stab at this, besides I had this written up for an athlete in the past, I just recycled it here. This isn't necessarily what you should do cause that's up to your coach, just what I've found works for my athletes.
All training for any distance event from 800-marathon falls into 1 of 4 categories or zones. To build an athlete best prepared to race their event (regardless of choosen event), I've found that you should develop all 4 areas of fitness to have the greatest odds of improving race times. They are:
1. Aerobic conditioning.
Performed primarily through moderately paced sustained runs of 30-120 minutes at 55-75% VO2max. Long runs, double days, weekly mileage, etc.
2. Anaerobic conditioning.
Performed primarily through 15-25 minute efforts completed at 75-90% VO2max. Tempo runs at slightly slower than MP down to 10k pace.
3. Aerobic capacity.
Performed primarily through 2-8 minute reps at 90-100% of VO2max. 10k pace to slightly faster than 5k pace.
4. Anaerobic capacity.
Performed primarily through 30-120 second reps at better than 100% VO2max. 1500 pace or faster
Now this isn't something I'm making up, I stole it from Dr Martin and Peter Coe's book. Their premise and that of most other top coaches I know states that for the best results in terms of racing fitness you have to spend consistent training time in each "zone." Boil down the training of the top distance runners since the 70's and for the most part you'll see all of the above addresssed consistently. Sure some don't, but by and large the vast majority do and that's the key here, what has the greatest odds of making you faster? A program that 1 or 2 guys have success using or one that most guys have success using? Even that "speed" demon Coe addressed all the above. Same for Ovett. 200m-half marathon, he could do. XC? No problemo there either. Same for Scott and Aouita and brother James - well maybe Robinson had some problems with XC, but the guy ran some serious tempo runs around Lake Merrit of 4-8 miles at better than 5 minute pace and he did that regularly. To adequately address the above zones, you should do longer runs/double days/weekly miles to develop the aerobic conditioning aspect, you should spend time developing the anaerobic conditioning aspect through consistent tempo work, you should spend considerable time developing VO2max through things like 800-1600's at roughly 5k pace and you should spend some time doing 100's, 200's, 300's, 400's at speeds of 1500 race pace or faster. This doesn't mean you do it once a year and it's addressed. This means you focus training time on each element the vast majority of the training year and you should do it regularly. Sure the emphasis of each changes depending on the time of the year and the timing of the key competitions, but each element should be addressed regularly throughout the training year. Spending too much time during the training year worrrying about and focusing on any single zone at the expense of the others is a mistake in most instances because a key piece of racing fitness get's neglected which is why 800 guys who throw all their eggs into the easy weekly mileage basket without a corresponding percentage increases in things such as VO2max development, tempo work and speed work fail to improve. The unfortunate result is they think that mileage doesn't product results for the 800 runner, which is generally false if you develop the other aspects of fitness along with the volume of weekly mileage equally. Same for runners who focus on speed (anaerobic capacity) and disregard the other elements of fitness, they do not generally improve. Same for any single element of fitness. Neglecting any is usually a mistake.
Now from personal experience it's little wonder in my mind that when an athlete can get fit enough to do workouts that they couldn't even consider doing the year before in all training zones, they run a pretty darn good middle distance race. The speedwork such as hyper fast 200's is easy, it's fun. The athlete usually doesn't need much convincing of this. The things that pay off biggest in terms of faster race times are also the things that take the most mental and physical energy. The frankly scare the heck out of most middle distance guys not used to performing them. Workouts like 4 x 800 at mile race pace requires the kind of aerobic strength needed (in my mind) to race an effective 800 and if you've ever tried this workout, it is not even a little easy or fun. How about the old Oregon 400, 600, 400, 300 at 1500 race pace? Same thing here. How about 4 x 1600 at faster than 5k race pace, this is another workout that's often neglected, but helps tremendously. 6 x 1k at 3k pace, 4 mile tempos at 10k pace, none of these workouts are the least bit fun, yet they need to be done consistently to race a fast 800. I've found that if an athlete cannot develop the ability to do workouts such as those listed above but can still maintain the ability to run the hyper fast 200's, these athletes tend to be the ones with a sub-50 400 and a 1:57 800 time because they lack the aerobic strength necessary to race the 2 lap event effectively. This is how a Kenyan with 49 second 400 leg speed kills an American with 46 speed. It's the strength.
On the opposite side of the coin, you gotta develop the ability to run some fast work concurrently and you gotta develop the ability to do it with great form and ease. Things such as repeat 400's at close to max 400 speed, fast 300's that sort of thing. You gotta get these in as well if you're gonna race a good 800. The key then is having the ability to do any type of workout effectively. This is real fitness and it transfers over to faster 800's.
Here's a few example workouts from a guy who I coached that went from 1:52/3:46 down to 1:47/3:39 in a single season. He also went from 14:46 down to 14:12 and eventually down to 13:49 in 2 seasons. These are random workouts from spring 1999:
*4 x 800 w/ 4 min rec: 2:03, 2:02, 2:00, 1:57
*2 x 400 w/ 10 min rec: 51, 50
*2 x 800 (2:16 av), 4 miles at 19:00, 2 x 800 (2:14av) all with 400 jog.
*4 x 400 w/ 4 min recovery: 54/55 av.
*4 x 1600 w/ 400 jog. Average laps at 65/70/65/70.
*Long runs of 15-16 miles at 6 flat pace.
*85-90 miles a week.
*No weights, no plyos, no secret diets.
I think you can see he was fit based on his race results, but these results were based on his ability to run at any pace we wanted to work at and do it effectively. When he focused his training on the fast 200's, 300's and 400's at the expense of his tempo runs and double days amd long runs and 800-1600 reps, he ran slower and he was very inconsistent. 1:52 one week, 1:56 the next. When he did the program based on the above principles he just continued to improve. 1:54, 1:52, 1:50, 1:49, 1:48, 1:47. Same for his 1500. So that's the key in my mind, being fit enough to do just about anything thrown at you by a crazy coach in a workout. When Hesch did the same basic progression in 2001, he went from 3:47 down to 3:40 and made the finals of the USATF 1500 final in Eugene. When Aeron used a similar program last year, she went from 2:14/4:34 down to 2:10/4:18. All 3 athletes had much greater success when each of the 4 zones were addressed throughout the year than they ever had focusing exclusively on any single element such as speed or tempo work.
The other thing people forget to do and an aspect I have been guilty of neglecting in the past is not doing consistent work at specific race speeds to develop relaxed efficiency at race pace. It's the principle of Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID) which is a fancy way of saying developing specific race pace efficiency, another way of saying increasing economy. I now do a weekly to bi weekly session at 1500 pace if it's a 1500 runner. A marathoner get's a session a week at marathon pace. An 800 runner should get a weekly session at 800 pace, particulary after the start of the New Year. Not a lot, but it's in there consistently. No way a runner automatically becomes efficient as any race speed in my mind and a main reason why my past athletes ran horrible indoor races only to run great outdoors. Without consistently practicing their race pace they couldn't effectively race that event. They just weren't efficient at race pace. Does this mean you should do 600's at 800 goal pace all year? No. It does mean though you should be doing 80-150's at your 800 goal pace pretty regularly throughout the year. Strides 2-3 days per week throughout the fall at 800 race pace before doing your XC workout is a way to get it done. A Saturday not spent running an XC race should be used to run some 80-100 at 800 pace. When you get close to outdoors, you do longer and longer reps. So maybe in December you're doing 16 x 100 at 800 pace with 300 jog. Then in January, you're doing 10 x 150 at 800 pace, then in Feb it's 8 x 200, March is 5 x 300, April is 4 x 400, May is 3 x 500. June is 2-3 x 600. But it's been a mistake for me to start with 800 or 1500 pace workouts cold turkey in April and expect significant results come May.
So what's all the above mean? Simple, do the 4 main types of training and address them each consistently. Do longer reps, do tempo runs and long runs and double days and also have fun doing the real fast stuff - just make it fast and relaxed. Finally, don't forget you're an 800 runner, so practice that pace alot. Running 800 pace to you should be like taking a dump, natural and often. Be affraid of no workout. Get a "bring it on" attitude. Become a true competitive distance runner because this is what all top distance runners do regardless of choosen event, they hammer with any athlete in any event - sprinter, 5k guy, marathoner, doesn't matter. They like the challenge of beating a marathoner on the weekend long run or a sprinter on their last 300 repeat of the day or the 5k guy in his last mile rep.
Now regarding the 400 speed aspect of the question. I would read up on stuff from Clyde Hart. I mean his 400 guys are fairly decent. To paraphrase, his program looks a lot like this:
Fall: Workouts primarily at 3k pace/1500 pace work 5 days per week.
Jan/Feb: Work at 800/1500 pace
March/April: Work at 800, some 400 pace
May/June: Work at 400/800 pace
Early Summer: Work at 400 pace or better.
Now does this mean they don't do full on speed stuff? No, it just means they do things like relaxed 30's at 90% effort, same as what most mid-distance runners do in the fall to address overall speed. I get the impression most distance guys think it's super fast work all year to develop top end speed and that's not really true. It's fast yes, but it's fast and controlled and relaxed with super form and not very long reps for the most part. Oh yeah, they take plenty of recovery too which distance runners have a hard time doing. Now if you look at the Baylor program in depth, even these 200/400 meter runners work on VO2max development in the fall, they work on anaerobic conditioning and they do aerobic conditioning in addition to their fast stuff BUT their real fast stuff is stuff taking 10 seconds or less.
You gotta do it all and do it consistently and do more of it each year and you gotta want to do it, really really want to do it for one reason alone - to race fast and beat the living crap out of people who have no business loosing to you. It starts and ends with desire. No short cuts and little paralysis of analysis. There's a well worn path to success, that's based on the following:
2. Right physio make-up (good parents)
3. A body that responds to training favorably
4. A well designed program
Time to get to serious work if you're looking to race well come May.
Best of luck, hope the above helps.
I don't want to hijack this thread, but this kinda applies so here you go. This is what I have outlined for Aeron this spring in terms of 1500 specific workouts starting 12/15. I always go by current 1500 fitness in determining workout paces, so I'll have her do a Kosmin test 1/3/04 to determine what her 1500 pace should be and go from there. Based on XC results and a 10k back in Sept it's approx 71 pace right now. So that's what the initial workouts will be set at, roughly 36 second 200's on grass. As her fitness improves and her race time drop throughout the spring the paces get adjusted accordingly. This allows me to be fairly certain that the paces are appropriate for her fitness level and not what I think or hope her fitness level is. This keeps me from getting all worked up and having her race the workouts instead of keeping them at an appropriate level. The only thing I'm really manipulating is the length or each rep (or decreasing the recovery, whichever way you want to look at it). I generally go in 4 week blocks of time at each level of work because most people take 3-4 weeks to adapt to a new/greater stress level in terms of workloads. We stay at a particular level for 3 weeks, we race as a test of fitness at the end of week 4, then we move up the workout progression ladder. Paces get adjusted accordingly if race performace improves. If not, we maintain the previous paces. Last year she stayed at 72 pace for 6 months before we adjusted, so I'm not too stressed if the paces don't drop each month because they tend to stay static for a while, then bam - they drop when everything in the body in terms of fitness get's dialed in. This workout outline is not set in stone, it's mearly a guideline I have set up to keep me on track and so she has goals. If she isn't ready to jump up, she won't do it. We have her volume of work at 1500 pace set at approx 3200m per workout this year, so all workouts all add up to approx 2 miles worth of reps. Last year she was at 2400m.
*4 x 4 x 200 at 1500 pace. 200 jog btw each, 400 jog btw sets. On grass if dry.
*2 x 8 x 200 at 1500 pace, 200 jog btw each, 400 jog btw sets. On grass if dry.
*3 x 5 x 200 at 1500 pace w/ 200 float (approx 45/50) on grass if dry. 5 min btw sets.
*2 x 8 x 200 at 1500 pace w/ 200 float (approx 45/50) on grass if dry. 5 min btw sets
*2 x [4 x 400 at 1500 pace] 200 jog btw each, 400 jog btw sets. On grass
*4 x [2 x 400 at 1500 pace]. 100 jog btw each, 400 jog btw sets. Grass
*8 x 400 at 1500 pace w/ equal time standing rest, maybe 200 jog.
*5 x 600 at 1500 pace w/ 2x time recovery, maybe equal distance jog
*4 x 800 at 1500 pace w/ 2x time recovery, maybe equal distance jog.
6/15 and beyond: Competitive season.
Hope that explains it. If not, let me know and I'll address it.
I like the idea of starting the season with 16x100m then 10x150m then 8x200m then 5x300m then 4x400m. If everything works out for me, maybe I will try this. It sounds like a cool plan.