This article is for a reader who wanted advice on breaking 2:05 for 800m. You can simply modify the numbers and pace below to match your times.
Arthur Lydiard once said to Peter Snell (loosely translated), if you can run a 400m in 50 seconds, just build endurance to keep that pace up to 800m. We would be talking about a 1:40 800m time, of course, which we saw at the London 2012 Olympics!
In a way, that’s like saying to a sprinter, accelerate to 60m, and maintain that for 400m.
It’s not exactly how it works, but you get the idea. Build endurance on top of speed.
Predicting 800m time from 400m
The 400/800 combo is a rare combo. We have seen sooooo many calculators on calculating 800m potential from 400m times:
- 4 seconds per lap rule (i.e. double plus 8)
- 5 seconds per lap rule, which is the same as…
- double plus 10 second conversion (Canada’s Gary Reed is a good example of this)
- double plus 12 second conversion
- double plus 15 second conversion for Open Men, but 17 seconds for Women, using IAAF “A” standards
So to conclude, I declare the Death of 100m 200m 400m 800m Ratios!
If your PB for 400m is 60 seconds, you’d be a freak of nature if you could keep that same pace for 800m and break 2 minutes. So we are looking of a PB of 53-55 seconds for the 400m in order to break 2 minutes.
And of course, you’ll need endurance! (but not Lydiard 160 mile weeks either!). And you’ll need speed.
QOTD: Why Speed and Speed Reserve is always the number one goal in our training. pic.twitter.com/ALBm7VQ7yp
— SpeedEndurance (@speedendurance) February 1, 2016
So, for speed, there are 3 special Track workouts you need. It’s called “multi-pace training”.
Breaking 2 minutes – What you need to know
It’s called Multi-Pace training because you never run a 800m at the same pace.
Sprint from the gun, start fast, break for pole, then jostle fast and slow, picking up the pace at 500m (300 to go), and finally that last sprint for the tape – if you can!
1) you need to run at speeds FASTER than 60 sec/400m to break 2 minutes for 800m.
So try 6 x 200m at 25-28 sec with a 200m walk. You should also incorporate even shorter runs of 60-100m and with a keen eye of a good coach! Even acceleration development is important here, and make sure you have good biomechanics.
2) you need to run at speeds the SAME RACE PACE as 60 sec/400m.
So try 6 x 300m at pace or 45 seconds. Or even 8 x 200m in 30 seconds with jogging as recovery.
3) you need to run at speeds SLOWER than 60 sec/400m
So try 5 x 600m at 65 sec pace per 400m, or a pace that you would run a Mile as his helps endurance. Or you can even try 1000m repeats on a dirt trail or grass loop (i.e. classic over distance work)
The 4th workout is simply a long 20-40 min run, nice and easy, usually on a weekend.
The 5th workouts are some easy morning recovery runs. If you have some weight to shed (most of us do), this will help trim down, assuming you don’t watch your diet.
You can also add some weight training, circuit training, and Yoga to this schedule.
… and you need to rest!
>> See also guest article by Darrell Lewis on how to break 2 minutes for 800m
Don’t forget, every body is different. Some respond better to speed and lactic work. Some respond better with higher mileage and aerobic work.
The Classic 800m training book I recommend is Peter Coe’s Winning Running: Successful 800m & 1500m Racing and Training who is the late-father of Sebastian Coe. Conversely, you can read Steve Ovett 800 meter Training: by Coach Harry Wilson.
High School, College & Open 800m Training
Here is a Sample Weekly Cycle:
AM – easy 20 min jog
PM – Track workout #1 (100/200m faster than race pace speed)
30 min run easy, plus ab and weight work
AM – easy 20 min jog
PM – Track workout #2 (400m race pace speed)
30 min run easy, plus ab work
AM – easy 20 min jog
PM – Track workout #3 (1600m race pace speed)
40 min run – easy
MASTERS 800m Training
The above schedule is quite demanding. From my experience, a Masters body needs more rest. Compete rest, or active recovery, but no running. Swimming, walking, anything low intensity.
I propose a 10 day cycle, not 7 day for younger athletes, and it looks like this:
- Day 1 – as Mon, above
- Day 2 – as Tues
- Day 3 – rest
- Day 4 – as Wed
- Day 5 – as Thur
- Day 6 – rest
- Day 7 – as Fri
- Day 8 – as Sat
- Day 9 – rest
- Day 10 – rest
I know we are all dogmatic about the 7 day cycle (or work 5, with 2 days off) and we all hate Mondays. But if you can be flexible, this 9 or 10 day cycle makes a lot of sense. And you should all prepare for those “life happens” moments when you have to miss a workout for sickness, work, weather disruptions, you name it.