800-Meter Training Plan: Tips, Workouts and More
Running friends: you need to hear us here. Although you may be tempted to stick to your distance races and leave your track years behind you, there are plenty of opportunities to get back to racing on the track.
If you find yourself at a track meet, consider digging deep and signing up for the 800. To get yourself to the starting line ready to roll, you need a good 800-meter training plan.
And we have some ideas for you!
Is 800 Meters a Sprint?
In the world of collegiate sports, the 800-meter event is called a dash. It was usually called a run if you think back to your high school days. Why the difference?
Because when you are racing the 800, you are moving. Not that any of the races that grace the track are done slowly… but the 800 is a whole different pain level.
How Do You Train for 800 Meters?
We turned to Evan Wood of Just Another Running Coach and RunnerClick PRO to get some tips on 800-meter training. According to coach Wood, there are a few things to consider right off the bat.
Here is what Coach has to say about mileage:
1. If you are relatively new to running, have not yet put many years and miles on the legs, and are already somewhat close to running sub-2 (2:14 or below), it is possible to achieve the sub-2 800 on only 20-30 miles per week, with 2 or 3 of those runs being quality sessions (the rest should be slow, easy runs).
If you can run closer to 2:26, you may need to increase your mileage.
2. If you have been running for at least a few years, have been averaging 20-30 miles per week, and are somewhat close to running sub-2 (2:14 or below), you may need to increase your weekly mileage to around 40 miles per week to close the gap.
If you are already running 40mpw and are currently able to run closer to 2:26, it will either take longer to gradually chip away time, or you will need to increase your mileage further.
3. Generally speaking, 50-60 miles per week is the most I would ever recommend an 800m specialist to maintain. If you are running higher mileage than this, I would drop it down to this amount to make the most of your quality workouts.
What is an Average Time to Run 800 Meters?
Gender, age, and experience all come into play when contemplating an average 800-meter time.
A typical time to run an 800 is around 2:30. If you are breaking 2:00 minutes, you are wicked fast.
The world record for the 800-meter dash for men is 1:40.91, and 1:53.28 for women. Now that is quick!
How Fast do 800-Meter Runners Run in MPH?
For anyone out there who wants to get an idea of how fast it is to break 2:00 minutes in the 800, you would need to be running a 4:01 pace to hit that speed. That is like going 15 miles per hour.
Imagine yourself on a treadmill keeping up that pace for two minutes.
I won’t lie… I cannot imagine.
How Can I Get Better At Running 800 Meters?
First things first. You need an 800-meter training program to get better. Remember: you have to walk before you can run.
Coach Wood also had some great 800-meter training workouts for us to share with you:
“Here are some of my favorite workouts, although the length of the workout will vary depending on your total weekly mileage. The examples below are best suited for a 40 miles per week runner.”
800-Meter Training Plan
|Nice entry-level workout||20 min easy warmup + (8x200m @ 1 mile race pace w/200m jog) + 20 min easy cooldown|
|Same idea but up a notch||20 min easy warmup + (6x400m @ 1 mile race pace w/400m jog) + 20 min easy cooldown|
|Brutal workout with full distance repeats||15 min easy warmup + (6x800m @ 12 seconds slower than 1 mile race pace w/3min jog) + 6 reps of strides + 15 min easy cooldown|
|"Fire and Ice", a challenging favorite that is best used in the later stages of training||20 min easy warmup + (4x1mile @ 48 seconds slower than your 1 mile race pace w/ 2min rests *not jog!*) + (6x200m @ 16 seconds faster than your 1 mile race pace w/ 200m jog) + optional 5 min easy cooldown|
|Fun descending staircase workout||15 min easy warmup + 600m @ 3 seconds faster than 1 mile race pace w/600m jog + 500m @ 3 seconds faster than 1 mile race pace w/500m jog + 400m @ 2 seconds faster than 1 mile race pace w/400m jog + (2x300m @ 2 seconds faster than 1 mile race pace w/300m jog) + (2x200m @ 1 second faster than 1 mile race pace w/200m jog) + 10 min easy cooldown|
Coach Wood adds, “Before you begin to introduce 2 of the above workouts in a single week, get comfortable with doing just one per week and incorporating Strides into one or two easy run days to help smooth the transition to the tougher workload.”
Should 800-Meter Runners Do Long Runs?
800m training is complicated. Some people will think that there are no long runs for someone in an 800m program.
They would be wrong.
Coach Wood reminds us, “Of your 2-3 quality workout sessions, one should be your “Long Run”. I put it in quotes because it will be shorter than most conventional Long Runs.
The length of this run will depend on the total mileage of your week, but generally, it should be no more than 30% of your total weekly mileage, and it should be done at a relatively easy pace.
40-60 minutes is usually enough to get the job done.”
How Should a Beginner Run the 800?
As a former track coach, I can tell you that you are likely to have some growing pains in your first few attempts at the 800-meter run. It is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and go out too fast.
It is equally possible to be too conservative and end up with regret when you pour on the juice too close to the finish.
When running the 800, it helps to keep your 400-meter dash PR in mind. Your 800m run should be slightly slower per lap but not a ton slower.
You are best served to run a bit conservatively in lap 1, then slowly increase speed on lap 2. For a newbie 800 runner, this could help keep you in the game.
3 Key Tips from Running Coach Wood
When you get into your 800m training workouts, you may find yourself looking for other tips. Here are a few Coach Wood wants to leave you with:
1. It’s important to remember that even though the 800m may feel like a sprint, it is still long enough of a distance that your aerobic system and slow-twitch muscle fibers will still be doing a majority of the work for the majority of the race (about 66% of the demand is aerobic as opposed to anaerobic).
Therefore, it’s still crucial to get some Easy Runs in and keep them truly easy so that you can put 100% of your effort into your speed workouts.
2. If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with Strides! They’re a fun way to practice speedy leg turnover and good form without coming at much of a physical cost. A lot of speed workouts incorporate them as well. I hope these points are helpful in your quest for sub-2 glory!
3. Regardless of the result, with the above workouts and a well-balanced plan, you can make great improvements in your time and perhaps go even beyond sub-2.
Now that you have an 800m training program in hand and some excellent tips from one of our best running coaches, you are ready to roll.
Enjoy the 800m training workouts, and we truly hope they help you reach your goals.
Good luck and happy running.
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