Update on my 800m training – Sept 2021

The second cycle of 800m training is coming to a close. Next week I’ll go do an 800 time trial and see how successful it’s been. The last block of training through July-August was mixed in its success. I felt stronger by the end of it but quite often missed the target times due to overly tired legs. Missing target was a little demoralising yet seeing other things going well helped offset that.

This month’s training has been about sharpening up for the 800TT. Its focus has been miles at Threshold pace to help build Lactate Clearance, along with short intervals at 800m and mile pace for building Lactate Tolerance. The hardest efforts, which need some psyching up for, are the long 600m efforts at 800m pace. On their own it wouldn’t be awful but often they’re thrown in as one part of a bigger session. For example, the first week was simply three 600m efforts with a 1km jog recovery – each effort takes a full-on effort.

Threshold running (T-pace)

The early efforts for these came in around 6:50-55/mile pace. This was a good twenty seconds faster than the same workouts six months ago. But as my fitness sharpened up I began to run them faster and by the past week I was running at 6:40.

The dilemma has been whether to stick to pace or trying to go based on how the body is reacting. As I’m not one for staring at the GPS anymore I’ve opted for the latter hence why my fastest effort came in at 6:34! Considering during July-August I was struggling to run my kilometre intervals at this pace, it all suggests training has been going in the right direction.

Mile-pace running (R-pace)

The plan has been packed with 200s at mile pace but, they’re often at the end of a Threshold session when the legs are tired and heavy with lactate. Sometimes they’ve been hard to get on-target, needing lots of effort to scrape in; other times it’s seemed easy to hit target with lots to spare.

Given the aim was to hit 44sec there’s only been one over 44½sec which was into a headwind; I judge them as having been a success.

800m-pace running (FR-pace)

These have been the rewarding part of training. Last time I was aiming to complete 600s in 2:06 and I only managed it once. This time, I was aiming for 2:00 and managed to get under it three times along with two more at sub-2:02 – not too far off.

There have also been some slower 600s and last Thursday finished on a low note with them coming in at 2:07 and 2:09. I can throw out excuses about high winds but, in the end, I still like to hit target. Yet when I think back to the start of the year I was running my initial 600s in around 2:23 there is something good happening overall.

There were a couple of 400s mid-month which came in on target at 1:18-19 compared to 1:27-29 in the equivalent session six months ago. And again at the beginning of training I remember one misjudged effort came in at 1:41!

The shorter intervals of 200, 300 have been interesting. Generally I’ve struggled to run them much faster than last time around. Fastest 200 in March was 37.45s, this time it’s 36.73sec; so there is a little more quickness but it’s not been a massive leap.  I got a couple of sub-37s on a wind-assisted day and sub-59 300s on another.

So it really seems like I’ve improved my speed endurance this go-around but haven’t done much for my actual top end speed. The 200s are averaging sub-5 pace now which is pleasing given I couldn’t even hit that pace at the start of the year. Doing strides has been a factor on the speed side and I managed to get the pace down to 4:07/mile momentarily on one so hopefully there is more to come.

Stats

I’m not going to go overboard on the stats as they’ve been so variable. But to give an indication of my fastest efforts in time and pace; plus what that multiplies up to over 800m. It’s noticeable that the longer efforts of 400-600 are about the same pace.

FastestPace800m pro-rata
200m36.73s(4:55/mile)2:26.9
300m58.23s(5:12/mile)2:35.3
400m1:18.9(5:17/mile)2:37.7
600m1:58.22(5:17/mile)2:37.6

Running form

Since starting the second time around with the plan, I’ve been working on my running form. I’ve specifically been trying to figure out how to sprint faster and somewhere over the past month or so it all began to come together. I found my legs were beginning to spring off the pavement and each stride would cover more distance. This has caused muscles in my right hip and glutes to get more active to fire produce thee springing action but also involved protecting muscles around the calves and quads that absorb the landing forces. These actions are beginning to become second nature now and with the initial stimulus over, I expect them to build in coming weeks.

Summary

The most pleasing part of training is that my fitness has remained throughout. There have been one or two sessions where I couldn’t get it done but that’s to be expected. There are always ups and downs.

When I did this same training block six months ago, I struggled to get any of the 600s on target and they even slipped backwards by the last couple of weeks. I think this is part of why my time trial barely improved last time around (2:58-55). This time I’ve been hanging in there and am now hoping my 800TT will see a significant improvement – at least scraping down into the 2:30s.

My easy runs have begun to get quicker over the last week or so and I’m beginning to feel like I’m getting back to the form I had back in 2012. Not quite there yet but I am intending to do a fast parkrun in October as well. So that’s all to look forward to in the next update!

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