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800 running

Answered By Jeff Arbogast

Question

I am a high school junior and my primary event is the 800. In my sophmore year, I was being told that I had the ability to run about 2:03 - 2:04. However, my best time was 2:07. In the 400, I ran about 54, so I don't think leg speed is the problem, but I also ran a decent 4:53 mile, so I know I have endurance. Any ideas about what is keeping me from low/sub 2:00?

Answer

First . . .I believe there is an article (The Championship HS 800m Run) on this website that is one of the most definitive resources on high-powered 800m running out there. If not, let us know and we'll have it put on here. It goes into depth on the various components that make up a top-notch 800m. Check the archives at YouthRunner to see if it is still available. But . .your 54 is enough to run 2:03 . . I agree. The speed-endurance base you demostrate with the 4:53 is also satisfactory. So . . . formulate your workouts to run at 2:03 pace. Break down your 100m splits and have a coach check you every 100m until you hit the "critical point" of 600m. You will want to be at 1:32 or so at 600m . . . so work that back to pacing at 500m, 400m (easy), 300m, 200m, and the first 100m. You need to chart how you attack the race . . .and make sure your 1st and 2nd half splits are within 3 seconds of each other . . .preferably within 2 seconds. that is going to mean you need to run 60.5 and 62.5 for your two halves . . allowing for a normal lactic acid buildup in the second lap. Faster than that in a first lap and you die a thousand deaths with 100m to go in the race. Slower than that and you can never catch up as you are filling up with lactic acid in lap 2. Make this a scientific race . . don't trust chance. Find out exactly where you fall off 2:03 pace . . . The 800m is a superbly tactical event . . .and you really only have time for one move, so make sure you are "on pace" so you can make the one move effectively. Learn the 'feel' of a 1:32 to the "critical point" (the point at which you have to "kick" and shift rhythm to a faster cadence). You can run this several times on a hard day without dying . . .it only hurts the last 200m !!! Lots more . . but try that and have confidence. Visualize . . plan your race . . stay on pace . . and if you have problems, attack that part of the race with practice!!! Good question . . Arb

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