Back in 1981, 1:41.73 was the Holy Grail for the 800 meters. That was the WR record set by Sebastian Coe. Yes, the same dude running our sport for World Athletics (formerly the IAAF).
It wasn’t until 16 years later in 1997 when Wilson Kipketer first tied the record (imagine the frustration!), then broke it with a 1:41.11 later that summer.
Of course, we all know today the Holy Grail is that magical sub 1:41 set by David Rudisha at the 2012 London Olympics. He ran a 49.28 + 51.63 splits, a differential of 2.35 seconds, en route to that 1:40.91 !!! This performance was voted the best race of the 2010 decade.
Some Common Questions for 800m Training & Racing
If you run or coach the 800 meters, you know the common questions we get asked daily:
Q: How much Mileage do you need to do, outside of track workouts?
Q: What kind of track workouts should you do? (HINT: Multi-pace interval training)
Q: What is the best Strategy? What is the differential between 1st and 2nd lap splits?
Q: How do you calculate 800m potential from a 400m? Double plus 10 seconds?
Q: How often do you need to race?
How Often Should You Race?
For sprinters, to prep for a major competition, I always adhere to the 5-7 races for a 100m sprinter, and 3-5 races for a 400m sprinter. You can use the early rounds as a race, if you have that luxury!
But what about the 800m?
Of course, if you’re a fan of the 800m, you know the name Joaquim Cruz of Brazil. He won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics (and a Silver in Seoul 1988)
Also, in 1984, he also came ever-so-close in breaking the WR with a 1:43.77, missing the WR by 0.04 seconds.
Thanks to @fast8trackclub for posting this on Twitter:
He ran 10 races in August 1984. Granted, back then, there were 4 rounds of races, instead of today’s 3 rounds at a major championships (Worlds or Olympics).
Obviously, his body withstood the pounding and abuse with proper training & preparation. (You know that 5Ps cliché: Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance!)
I am sure his Annual Plan was well thought out before the Fall of 1983! His coach probably started planning back in 1980!
The short answer to how often you should race is start with your major race you want to peak for, then work backwards. Back in the 80s & 90s, there were a lot more European meets to choose from, with A, B, C and even D league meets.
And of course, with this Covid-19 pandemic, then entire 2020 season is wiped out (at the time of this writing, we might see some August, September and October meets)
It’s hard to plan a series of 5 meets if they don’t exist!
800m Training Articles
Here are some selected articles on this Blog for more research on 800m training & racing:
- 800 meter Training Weekly Cycle (and Video slideshow) This gives an example on how to setup 13 training sessions in a week.
- Peter Snell Training with Arthur Lydiard famous training methods. Definitely a long to short program!
- Steve Ovett Training: Again, definitely a long to short program and quite a contrast to Seb Coe.
- 800 meter training by William Wuyke. This is a classic article with over 30 comments with full workouts and annual plans.
- How Much mileage should a 800 meter run? The classic question to prevent overtraining and burnout.
- Sample 800m workout: The Breakdown Here is my performance indicator chart that breaks down one of tracks classic workout. Looks easier on paper.