This article is guest blogged by Darrell Lewis from www.theinformedrunner.com.
He also wrote The Arthur Lydiard Method – Training from 800 meters to Marathon on this blog 3 years ago.
A Workout to Help you Break 2:00 in the 800m
When looking at race results for the 800 meter it always seems like there are a few athletes that can break the 2:00 barrier and a few that are a long way from that. Many races have a whole slew of athletes that are right around the 2:00 to 2:04 range. If you talk to the coaches of those athletes they will often tell you that the athlete is capable of running under 2:00. For some reason they just cannot seem to get them past that barrier. The coach knows that it is often simply a matter of being a mental barrier. We rack our brains trying to come up with the correct words to encourage them past the mental barrier or the right workout to give them the confidence to push through it.
When I was competing just like many of these athletes I was troubled with that 2:00 barrier. There were countless times I would run 2:00.xx and walk away disappointed with my race. I knew that I was strong enough and fit enough to do it, but for some reason I just didn’t have the confidence needed to hold the pace through to the finish. Then my coach prescribed one workout that I think was a game changer for me. After that workout I knew without a doubt that I could run under 2:00. It gave me the confidence and my next race I finally accomplished that elusive sub 2:00.
The workout consists of 12 repeats at goal race pace. The overall goal of the workout is to run 12×300 at 43-45 seconds if you are looking to run sub 2:00 in the 800 for the first time. The first time they do this workout most athletes do not usually complete 12 repeats at 300 meters because once they drop off the race pace the distance changes. I have my athletes start at the 300 meter starting line and finish at the finish line. The recovery is 1:00 so they know they have to get across the infield of the track and back to the starting line during that period which helps keep the rest as active as possible.
The athlete will run a minimum of 4 repeats of 300 meters. The 4 repeats does not change regardless of their pace. If their pace slows to a 47 or slower after the 4th repeat then they will drop to running 200s at 28-30 seconds with 1:00 recovery. If they slow to anything slower than 31 or 32 seconds then they will drop to running 100 repeats in 14-15 seconds with 30 seconds recovery. The idea of this workout is to maintain race pace or faster throughout the entire workout to help the athlete learn that they can hold the pace even when fatigued both physically and mentally. Shortening the distances run really helps them do that.
The first time my teammates and I did this workout was about 4 weeks before our championship race. Most of us made it through 8 repeats of 300s and then were forced to drop down to running 200 meters for the four remaining repeats. About 10 days before our championship race we did this workout again. This time I was able to complete all 12 repeats at the 300 meter distance. My confidence soared and 10 days later I had a great race in which I ran 1:58 and had my first sub 2:00 race result.
About the Author
Darrell has been a runner for more than 15 years and is a USATF certified coach. He writes about training and racing on his blog at www.theinformedrunner.com.