Middle-distance running summons all your courage as an athlete. You go longer than the maximum sprint distance of 400 meters -- namely, from 800 meters to a mile, and all distances in between, such as the 1,500 meters. But you have to maintain a similar speed, which can verge on being painful by the end of your race. Your track workout must cover the bases of speed, endurance and mental toughness for the rigorous middle distances.
American standout Alice Schmidt, originally from Nebraska, now lives in Coronado, California. She won the NCAA 800-meter title twice during her time at the University of North Carolina and clocked below two minutes 14 times. Training under 800-meter Olympic gold medalist Joaqium Cruz, her workout incorporates 200s interspersed with burpees to keep her heart rate up, she told “Runner’s World.” Schmidt notes that no one body type, or even nation or continent, predominates in the 800: Small muscular women and tall lean ones run against each other.
To follow in Schmidt’s track shoes, put February and March preseason training on your calendar so you are ready for competition that kicks off in late March and continues through May or early June. Your track coach will fine-tune a plan, working indoors if necessary. “USA Track and Field Coaching Manual” recommends six days of training a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays start with a 10-minute warm-up run, followed on Monday by 4x100s and 4x1,200s -- the “4” refers to the number of repetitions, and the “100s” and “1,200” refers to the distance in meters. You can progress to 6x50s on Wednesday and 4x100s, 2x150s and 6x300s on Friday. Tuesdays can consist of a six-mile run, and Thursdays and Saturdays a 45-minute run.
Early and Late Season
Following your distance and endurance work in the preseason, you add more speed in the early and late season. On Mondays, for example, you can keep your 4x100s and replace the 4x1,200s with 4x1,000s -- at a faster pace. Similarly, you can add 8x100s on Thursday to your 45-minute run in the early season. In the late season, preserve your energy and hone your speed on Thursdays by dropping your long run and instead completing 4x100s, 2x150s and 6x50s with a flying start.
Upping Your Speed Focus
Speed work -- your 50s and 100s -- can make up 10 percent of your preseason work and 30 percent of your in-season work if you are a miler or 1,500-meter specialist. Increase the speed work to 40 percent of in-season training if you run the 800 instead. The remainder of your workout can add aerobic and anaerobic endurance components. Aerobic endurance can be developed with runs from 30 minutes to two hours at a pace where you can maintain 140 to 160 heartbeats a minute, notes “USA Track and Field Coaching Manual.” For anaerobic conditioning, you can complete either 3Ks or 5Ks, tempo runs for five to 25 minutes or interval runs.
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.