Friday, 6 June 2008


Posted by speedygeoff on Friday, June 06, 2008 with 2 comments
This weekend is one of those big occasions - Tony Booth turns 70. Back when Tony was an M50 he approached me for some training advice, wanting to set a record or two in the age group. Now Tony was a runner who appeared to hold back the tiniest bit in races, but over the finishing stages he was unbeatable. But first I asked him what event he wanted to train for. 800m. and 1500m. and half marathons. and the monthly handicaps. and ... Well, I suggested he focus on one event and he decided the 800 was the right one. And knowing that if he focused solely on the 800m, the longer ones would suffer, I didn't restrict his longer training, which wasn't excessive, but got him onto the track to do some specific 800m training which I thought would help him most. For a few weeks prior to his go at the 800m record, which I think was held by Jack Pennington, our sessions were "only" 4 x 200m with quite a short standing recovery, at the desired race pace. This Tony did well at, and it was just a matter of him putting the four together, which he subsequently did and managed to break the record. You see, Tony needed to train himself to learn that he could push hard in the middle stages of the 800m, particularly in that third 200m when the whole field tends to slow; and I knew that if he were thereabouts toward the end he would still have his devastating finish. He just had to gain the confidence that he could do that, and be prepared to endure that final lack-of-oxygen pain a little earlier in the race. A by-product of this approach was that a 1500m race not long after was the only time I have seen Tony power through the whole of the race at that distance at his best pace, pushing hard through the middles stages too.

It's a trick I struggle with. Even in a 10km track race I find it really hard to pick up the pace with two laps to go, let alone from 3-5 laps out, where I probably should be starting to accelerate; it happens in the last lap but I struggle to go any earlier. I am not sure that a session of 4 x 2.5k would fix it. OR WOULD IT?


  1. I know this phenomenon oh so well because it is exactly what I do when racing shorter distances. I know that if I managed a faster pace over each lap that I would have a faster overall time but do you think I can do it! No.
    It is something to do with adrenalin and psychology I think.

    I'll be coming along to dickson next Thursday night for sure - I have cleared my schedule on Thursday nights from now on in.

  2. I'm not sure what sort of training would fix it - let me know if you find out!

    I think knowing that 'even pacing' means having the third lap of a 1500 feel like it's getting faster is one trick. Also, trying to imagine the third lap (or 9th km of a 10k) is the finish helps "spread out" the kick energy.

    There's a great video of a high school kid running 4-flat for 1600m - each lap is 60 secs, yet he appears to be accelerating, pulling away from the field. He also nearly gets clobbered by the pole from the pole vault!