How to Race the Indoor 600 meters

I was lucky to be in Sherbrooke, Quebec (Canada) in 1987 and witnessed Chip Jenkins setting an American record of 1:15.80 for 600 meters missing the World Record of 1:15.77. Chip is my friend on Facebook, so I’ll ask him to comment on this after I publish this article.

Today, the WR is lowered to 1:15.12 with Kevin Borlee just missing the WR two weeks ago in Gent with a 1:15.65 clocking.

At the time, Sherbrooke’s track  was a four lane 22 degree banked track that looked similar to a cycling track.  I timed his splits and he went through 400 meters in about 48 seconds.

That record is still the US record 24 years later!

How do you Run the Indoor 600 meters?

This is a tough one.  3 laps of hell.

First, it’s a standing start (no blocks) with only “On Your Marks” and then the gun.  Make sure you remind your athlete this!

I was told to run it like a 400 meters and “hang on”.  I ran earlier that day in 1:21.91 with splits of 25 and 51 (for 200 and 400m).  That meant my 200m splits were 25, 26, 31.  Yes, I died, and yes, it hurt like hell.

But I still think this is the best way to run the race.   Get out hard, get the lead, and just relax but fast and controlled. Use your arms more and more on the last lap.  If you lose the race, at least you can say you gave it 100%.

Hopefully for 400m specialists, you have done over-distance work, like 6-5-4-3-2-1 breakdowns, and the 600 meter is familiar territory.

2011 Boston Indoor 600m Mens

In this race, Duane Solomon wins with Tevan Everett finishing second despite leading for 500 meters.  At the break, Solomon is in second to last place.  Everett’s splits are 23.2 and 49.9 for 200 and 400m.

I give a lot of credit to Everett as this is the way I coach the race.  He even leans for the tape (bonus points for that) and as a result he falls and crashes.  It could have been the lactic acid’s fault, too.

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Here is the video for the 2011 Boston Indoor 600m Mens:

  • I think indoor racing’s are bit tricky even though you don’t have to battle against the weather. Still as a standard rule for best results in a competition like this: a case of practice makes you perfect!

  • I remember that race in 1987 as Donata Sabia had the world record. Two years before that, at the same meet in Sherbrooke, a guy I coached named Brian Thompson from University of Saskatchewan won the 600m there running 1:17.06. At the time, it was the Canadian record and lasted until Byron Goodwin broke it in 97. Before that race, he had lost a couple of 600m races to Tim Bethune – running 1:18 high while going out in 23.5 seconds. (Bethune and Thompson would race the first 200 both trying to get the rail) Brian talked about how much those hurt and decided to try to go out a little more under control at Sherbrooke in 25.0 and 51.0. This seemed to work. At that time in 1985, Thompson’s 1:17.06 run was the 3rd fastest in history in the world. i think it is still one of the fastest ever run in Canada.