Thursday, 7 November 2013

800m: sprinter versus distance runner

Posted by speedygeoff on Thursday, November 07, 2013 with 1 comment
My favourite race was always the 800 metres. It is the shortest track race run in the inside lane. It is the most tactical race of them all. Winning a contest of wills in the 800m is most rewarding.

Let's say I, a distance runner, want to resume racing the 800m after a long absence from the event. Over the years I have learnt to run at a steady pace. I need to re-learn one important aspect of 800m racing, the surge.

My training program, while having to include more of an emphasis on speed, strength, and anaerobic capability, will also need to include surging practice.

In an 800m race, a sprinter can sit and kick at the end, provided they have added some aerobic and anaerobic endurance. A distance runner with superior endurance can wait until the end and out-run a sprinter, provided the pace has been quick enough. Or a distance runner can try and make a break earlier, to get away and build up a lead, but a well conditioned sprinter should be able to cover any breaks.

Whether wanting the ability to make breaks, or to cover breaks, what is needed is the ability to surge at will. Surging - the ability to run at varying pace while very close to top pace. This can be practised at every training session.

Ron Clarke, although very much a pacer, was know for his ability to throw in very long surges during his 10,000m track races. Surging is not just for the 800m.

Success of the top Kenyans is not just about their amazing fitness, but their ability to surge hard at top speed during distance races.

In cross country races, a surge up and over the top of a hill will drop any opponent who wants to "rest" at the top.

So you see that learning to surge is a skill which can be used for a wide range of races.

How to practise surging? Interval training on undulating tracks i.e. Stromlo Forest Park. Aim for fast times and vary the pace considerably throughout each interval. Train with others where you can chop and change the lead and the pace. All good fun.

Why this topic? Let's say I, a distance runner type, hope to run some short middle distance (400, 800, 1500) track races again. Let's say I can motivate myself by setting up a challenge with a good sprinter type in my age group, meeting halfway in the 800m. Let's say one of yesterday's photos is a clue. Let's say this training starts first week in December.

1 comment:

  1. He'll probably pull a calf muscle if he tries to stick with your surge.