Maybe some of you have watched David Rudisha's amazing 800m race at the London olympics yesterday, which he won convincingly - he even beat his own WR and ran the distance in 1:40,91. (he is the first human to break through the 1:41 barrier!)
As I'm also competing in middle distance races on amateur level, I'd like to give you some insights into this wonderful sport.
First of all, there are three things you need, when you want to run the middle distances (800m / 1500m / one mile), I will concentrate on the 800 metres, because it's "my" distance.
1. Basic speed (anaerobic conditioning) This is especially important in 800m races, because without having decent sprinting abilities you just don't stand a chance in tactical races. The pros usually are able to run the 400m in about 46 to 47 seconds (Rudisha's personal best is 45,50!), and they're easily able to run 100m under eleven seconds. You also need the basic speed to wear down your opponents in fast races.
2. Aerobic endurance You can't run 800 metres fast, when you're solely concentrating on your sprinting abilities. You also need to build up a fair amount of stamina, because otherwise the human body isn't able to stay under the lactate threshold long enough. (the LT isn't the only limiting factor here, and it's also not a "wall" you hit, it's more like a transition from "this hurts" into "fuck my life, I want to die")
3. The will to suffer Rudisha needs 101 seconds to run 800m, which means that he's running 100m in an average speed of 12,6 seconds. This is faster than most people are able to sprint this distance. Now imagine that you have to run eight times the distance. Running the 800m means pain. Exercising means pain. Even winning means pain sometimes. The 800 metres are a very special distance, because aerobic and anaerobic factors are EQUALLY important.
There are two basic types of 800m runners: 1. The 400 / 800 type - good sprint - able to run at a fast pace constantly - offers weaknesses in races, where the pace is changed a lot
2. The 800 / 1500 type - good stamina - able to run at a decent speed constantly - isn't the best sprinter, but can react better to little attacks
Rudisha is more like a type 1 runner, a good example for a fast type two guy is the british legend Sebastian Coe, who ran the 1500 m in 3:29.77, which is still an amazing time. Please note that these types are models to show you some basic differences in approaching the middle distances.
My personal experiences: I used to run a lot in my teenage years, and I've started to train again one year ago. I know that I'll never be able to compete on top level, but I have a dream: Beating the two minute mark. Compared to the best runners in my country, who can run faster than 1:50 with ease, two minutes are slow. But running the 800m in two minutes still means a 100m average of 15 seconds, which isn't slow at all. (at least for me ) I've gained some weight during my inactive years, so my first goal was to lose some pounds and get back into decent shape. Now I'm close to my initial goal (70 kg / 180 cm), and I'm concentrating on building up my sprint abilities again.
My training consists of long runs (up to 5km), "fartleks" (longer runs, where the pace is changed a lot), interval training, sprint training, some minor lifting and fun stuff like playing football (soccer for you americans...) and swimming. Now the sprinting part and the grueling intervals are taking up most of my time, I will compete in a test race in september (goal: 2:20). I'm also part of my university running squad, which makes training much easier.
My personal best times are: 100m 12,0 400m 57,5 800m 2:11 1500m 4:35 (I hate this distance...)
Currently, I'm nowhere near that times, especially my sprint is terribly bad. As I'm 27, I know that I won't become faster with my increasing age, but I think that beating my old PB is still possible. Going under two minutes is more like a dream, I know that it's likely that I won't reach that level, but without a dream, training becomes boring.
I hope I could give you some interesting insights. Keep running!
Interesting blog n insight. I used to run little athletics as a kid and i know how much competitive running hurts u seem to know what u r doing and have a realistic goal so all the best. I was half inspired but i think trsining again would hurt too much lol
OpticalShot Canada. August 10 2012 22:25. Posts 5946
I used to be a runner back in my high school days =)
I ran 400/800/1500 for my school, but was best at 400... ironically I also did cross-country where I did better, comparatively, than the 1500. So I guess I had the build for 400m but the determination for long-distance?
My best for 400m was 0:59 and 800m I think I did a 2:25-ish, don't remember for 1500 because I didn't even qualify to the city-level competition. I miss my running days =( now I'm considerably uhhh more average weight (as opposed to lean) and I can't run like I used to.
All the best for your 1:59 challenge!
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Diader United States. August 10 2012 23:03. Posts 211
On August 11 2012 00:38 RAGEMOAR The Pope wrote: You need to run way more. At least an average 6 miles / day if you plan on running the 800, 10 if you want to run the mile.
This is way too general. It highly depends on the shape you're in, the time of the season and other personal aspects. Usually, I have 10 to 12 training sessions per week, and I'm running about 5 to 7 km per training day atm - but my program is very mixed. There are brutal sessions on track, intervals, fartleks, slower runs, long jogs, strength exercises, coordinative exercises, etc.
You can't improve by just running a certain distance over some time, you need to build up things. If you're an untrained runner, you should put the most emphasis on creating basic endurance abilities before you start to push the speed limits. After my break, I invested at least four months to get good stamina. Now I'm building up to a first peak, which will be in about six weeks. After that, I'll carefully analyze the results, and will plan further steps from there.
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MoreFaSho United States. August 11 2012 02:10. Posts 1409
I ran track and cross country in high school. Never really got that fast. Ran about 18:30 5k senior year before some injuries. Started running more again recently (now about 10 years later) and have found it pretty easy even with 45 extra pound on my body. Running with a stronger body is just easier now even though I don't train as hard. I'm not training for nearly as fast of times anymore, but I think you'll find your goal a lot easier to achieve than you imagine.
mahi29 United States. August 11 2012 03:41. Posts 235
800 is the worst race in the history of existence. I ran cross country/track in high school (focused a lot more on cross country, as that was in the fall and I would run over summer. I got lazy during the winter/it's hard to run in icey snow stuff; no indoor track at our high school). Anytime I had to run the 800 or 1600 (races were 1 mile instead of 1500m) I always threw up after.
800 just way too fast for me; you really do have to run at basically full sprint. It's just insane to me.
Best for me was a 4:54 1600 from high school. Never really ran 800 in competitions as teammates were better than me/I wanted longer distances.
So yeah just like the last few posts stated, the 800 is a painful race. I am 17 and I took my senior year track season pretty seriously, at least after some injuries. I ran a 2:13 in the last race of the year, and was actually really content about my performance. The 800 meter race is one of the most satisfying race just because when you are a finisher like me, blowing past 5 or so people just on the last 200 meters is such a great feeling.
I feel like the most painful but the most neccesary part of your traing routine should be 400's and 600's maybe some sort of ladders (2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2 hundred) at a usual interval practice like that we would run more than 2 miles at our full sprint basically.
For me personally it was all a matter of motivation, if i didnt push myslef in the middle 400 (200, 400, 200 split up because 200's should be the fastest part of the race) then it didnt matter anymore how fast i could finish. I really hope you have the mental toughness to keep going and never stop. I wish you good luck on your goal, it might seem silly for some people but your goal is like a golfers dream to hit below their age, but the only problem is it gets a hell of a lot harder the older you get.
ArcticRaven France. August 11 2012 07:18. Posts 1180
I'm sorry, but when pple say the 800m is too long I'm going to give you a funny look. Its not long at all, just damn hard to run a good time or keep to a sprinting pace.
I agree with others, 800m is the hardest, most grueling race ever created. I have ran 4:35 mile, 17:09 5k, and 49:00 8 miler yet somehow 800m is still "feels" the worst. Its all worth it when you have a good race though. There is no better feeling in the world than handing off a baton in the 1st leg of a 4x800m relay while PR'ing with 2:00 time. This is after being stuck at a "wall" of 2:03 forever and never handing off baton in 1st.
For that reason I would say to keep at it, be patient and results will come. It took me 4 yrs to go from 2:15 to 2:00, but a large portion of that is probly due to age during high school. GL!!!!!!
Last edit: 2012-08-11 10:17:22
galtdunn United States. August 11 2012 10:41. Posts 799
Good luck! I used to run in high school too! PRs were
13 mile (training long run): 91:00 (7 min flat per mile) 8.5 mile (training run leading up to state meet in xc): 74:48 (6:48 pace) 3 mile: 16:35 5K: 16:55 mile/1600: 4:46 800: 2:06 400: 61? Only ever ran this in time trials when I was out of shape, never a race.
I'm currently getting back into some sort of shape too, definitely am not gonna get to be as fast as I was, but one day hope to run a sub 20 minute 5k again! Along with a sub 6 mile.
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Payson United States. August 11 2012 11:45. Posts 321
800 meter was definitely my favorite race to run, simply because I always felt satisfied with my performance afterwards since it's such an enduring race, you literally are in a full sprint throughout it but have to pace it nicely.
My fastest time my senior year was only 2:07 (my best 400meter was 54.35), but it was also the only year I've ran track, so I'm looking to bring that down with actual training come this year as a freshman in college.