I’m a high school junior (5’9 122lb) on my second year of track. I ran the 400 last year with a PR of 58.66 and since I ran cross country in the fall because my coach recommended me to so I can keep my legs active. Now my coach wants me to do the 400 and the 800. How many days should I go with distance and sprinters to stay decent at both? Other advice would also be appreciated!
It all depends on what the sprinters/distance guys are doing that day.
If your coach doesn’t have a specific 4/8 program, I’d do one workout a week with distance, the rest and lifting with sprints, and 6ish mile distance runs on Saturday and Sunday. Also super easy 2-3 mile jogs either in the morning or after practice if your body can handle it.
make sure to work on your top speed and acceleration now and through the season. that should look like strides now and after each run, and workouts like 2x3x60m top speed runs, and 2x3x40 of acceleration runs
That might tick the 800 boxes, but certainly doesn’t the 400.
The sessions labelled as speed and speed endurance do not fall into that category. Even if someone was physically capable of that Monday session without falling apart, it would take between 2-3 hours to complete - how many high-school kids have time for that. The full Friday session would take 3 hours plus a warm up.
Best bet is to find a sprint coach to liaise with.
It comes down a little to whether your goal is to actually develop real speed needed for your maximum potential in the 400, or are just trying to get a bit faster for the benefit of your 800. The guys I coach (High School) will often start high school running 2:10 and 57 as freshmen and end up at 1:56 and 51-52 as seniors, without really ever focusing on pure sprinting work outside of some hill sprints, 80m flat strides and some fast 150s on the track. In the end, if they're running 51-52, we can get their 800 down to 1:54, which is good enough to qualify for state, make the 4x8, etc.
They naturally get a lot stronger on their own, and throw in lifting and that does the trick. Now, if a 2:00/54 guy came to me and said, I can't make the 4x8 team and I want to try to break 50 in the 400 and be on that relay, that would be a different story. Then you need to start looking at how to develop real speed outside of their natural ability. Then you're talking about likely doing a Short to Long approach (NOT the Clyde Hart approach, much as I very much respect the man) and that athlete wouldn't even be with our group assuming they truly didn't want to race anything over 400m.
Is this a decent base phase for a HS 800 runner:- Starting at 26 miles working up to about 50 per week- About 13 weeks long- Weekly hill repeats (~40 sec)- Weekly 30m flys- Fartlek about every 3 weeks- Weekly long run- Everyt...
Wow....that's a lot more talent than my normal crew....I can tell you that. Consider yourself lucky. 51-52 without any REAL speed development has never happened on my track team. Maybe I just suck as a coach ;)
FWIW, all of my distance kids do some sort of speed development at least once a week about 46 weeks a year (We don't meet during Christmas break or during the first few weeks of summer). We run wickets at least once a week. Prior to any quality workout, we do a series of short sprints, culminating with a max effort 50. During our pre seasons and early seasons, we will do one true max speed workout per week. This could take a lot of forms. It might be something like 3 x flying 30 with full recovery, a series of 3-5 50m sprint races from a standing start for bragging rights, Sprints up our stadium ramp (about 35-40m). During cross, we'll do 10x60 up a steep hill (not true max speed, but it sure helps make them faster). Late in the off season or early in the pre season before meets happen, we might do 2-3 x 150 full go with full recovery. Most of my varsity guys can go low 19, high 18 for those. My top guy is more like high 17 low 18.
The rest of the days for my mid distance guys are pretty standard mileage and aerobic development stuff. Right now, our main aerobic efforts are fartlek runs with intervals of 1-3 min on with equal time periods of easy run / float in between.
Since we still do league dual meets, we don't run a lot of true MD type speed endurance workouts. My guys will run lots of 400/800/4x400 (or mix in a 1600 or a 200) type combos in dual meets to address the speed endurance component
You’re trying to tell me a 400/800m runner can’t run 10 50m reps or 10 100m reps? Those are both fairly standard 400/800m speed development sessions.
The speed endurance ladder also would not take 3 hours. 5-6 minutes after the 100/200s and up to 10 after the 300 would have 1 set taking half an hour or so, even with a good 30 minutes between the sets if the athlete does 2 of them, this workout will be slightly over 2 hours with the jog and warmups tacked on.
Any varsity highschool athlete should be ready to dedicate 2-3 hours a day to their sport. That’s completely normal. 2-3 hours was the normal practice time for track/XC and 3-5 hours was normal for football for me.
I shouldn't say it's extremely often those guys develop that way, but I have been lucky to get a lot of talented guys who also want to work hard and consistently, which is really the big thing.
We also do what I consider speed development, but I think we also have differing views on what that entails. We run fast, year round, very consistently, but don't do any pure sprinting unless its on a hill between 80-100m. Between those, 150s in 19 seconds, and workouts like 3x300 in 39-40, you can drop 400m times while still working within a range that is specific and relevant to 800m performance. We also have them run as many 4x4 relays as possible during the season and this makes a big difference. I wouldn't say we run anything fast that lasts under 10 seconds (on the hill) and under 15 seconds (on the track). Mostly because these guys don't actually know what true sprinting feels like, and they get bored if I ask them to rest for more than 2 minutes.
This is similar to what we used to do with our MD guys and I agree you can get some pretty good 400m times with that regime. Lately, I've had better luck getting my distance guys faster and I'm pretty sure it's the top end sprinting. We did 10x400 in cross the year before last and I had 10 guys go under 60 on the last one and our 4x4 in track has more distance/mid distance guys on it than actual sprinters
We do such low volume of top end stuff that it's never too long or too boring. A top end speed day for us during the summer might look something like:
4 miles easy + extensive drills + 3 x 50m acceleration (first at 70% effort, 2nd at 80% effort, 3rd at 90% effort), change to spikes or racing flats, 4 x 50m races from a standing start. Each time a kid "wins his heat" he or she has to step back 1m from the starting line. With my top guy, I already know to start him 3-4m back on the first race.
We'll usually do weights after that and then a shake out run in the afternoon.
During the season this year, we did our easy runs and weights in the morning then did the speed development stuff in the afternoon.
A week for my 4/8/16 guys when we start practice in a couple of weeks will probably look like
M: Aerobic Fartlek stuff. 5-8 x 2-3 min on 2-3 min off embedded in a 6-7 mile run
They can run it sure, it just won’t develop their speed.
It may be considered a staple in some circles, but then there are also a tonne of folks telling kids to sprint on their toes or toe-drag through the start. Lots of people doing dumb stuff doesn’t make it any less dumb.
As a general rule for speed endurance you should aim for a minimum of 1 minute of rest for every second worked, although higher performers will be able to create greater stress on their CNS and as a result need more. Plug those numbers into your ladder session and see how long it takes. None of this is to say someone couldn’t complete the distances off the sort of times you envisage, it will just mean that they don’t get the adaptation you are intending.
Lots of people like the idea that all training should be hard and that it’s all about putting in more effort. That’s not the case with speed - if it’s not quick enough, it ceases to be a speed session, it’s a fatigue inducing one. Effort and intensity are not the same thing - a fatigued athlete giving 100% effort will not achieve anywhere near the 95%+ intensity needed for positive adaptation.
And what’s the thinking with jogs after the explosive work?! Why deliberately shut down the mTOR response and undermine the earlier work?!
Is it better than only ever doing steady mileage? Sure, but only in the way that the second little piggy did a better by using wood rather than straw to build their house, when both should have been using bricks.
There’s just a fundamental lack of understanding about speed development on display here. Go find a sprint coach to mentor you.