Update on my 800m training – June-July 2021

I’m now six weeks into the second time round with my 800m training. My first go-round, following a Jack Daniel’s plan, lasted from December to May and didn’t provide great results as my 800 time only improved from 2min58 to 2min53. But I knew I was running faster, felt fitter and hoped a second go-around would show better results.

This training block is full of intervals ranging from 200-600m in length. As you’ll see in the stats the vast majority are short with just four 600s planned. Last time I was aiming to run at 48sec/200m but later realised I should have been using 48½ which I could only just scrape on the 400s and 600s.

I’ve been working to 47sec/200m which is the training for a 2:52 800m. Trouble is, I’ve been averaging 43s for 200m, 1:31 for 400m and 2:15 for 600m. It seems like this reflects the discrepancy between my time trials and how I actually felt my fitness had been progressing.

More speed

Last time I tried to be accurate with my interval efforts – not going fast than necessary but always hitting target. This time I’ve thrown caution to the wind and allowed myself to run without holding back. That’s not to say I’ve gone all-out, I haven’t; just not held back.

Target timeOn targetMissedEffortsFastest
200m47s66470(14.0km)37.9s(5:05/mile)
400m1min342424(9.6km)1:26.83(5:49/mile)
600m2min21-2233(1.8km)2:13.78(5:59/mile)
Total93497(25.4km)
Some interval stats for those who love them!

I’ve also introduced 8 strides of 10secs after my Friday morning recovery run. Ideally Jack would have me doing these on two of my recovery days but I didn’t want to undermine my aerobic base too much. Last time around, I didn’t do any; this time I’m doing one set. Next time around, if everything is going well, I’ll introduce the other day.

I suspect it’s (a lack of) this faster running that was holding my 800m time back in the past. I’m beginning to see my fastest pace come down from 5min/miling to 4:30/mile during strides and this may partly be down to the limitations of how quickly my GPS watch can produce an accurate pace.

Injury risk

The bigger danger is pushing too hard may lead to injury and it happened. I suffered a minor hamstring issue in week 5. It was the final 200 of a session that had already totalled 2,800m, and when I’m feeling good as I was, I tend to like to finish strongly; so  I pumped my legs as hard as I could but felt a tightening in the right hamstring and it began to knot. I eased off, finished out the effort and jogged home.

I was fortunate to have this happen on the Thursday as it gave me five days to recover before my next set of intervals. I still ran on the days in between and by the Tuesday my legs were feeling great during the warm-up. I eased into the efforts but by the 4th 200 I was getting a sense I might not last. The next 400m I felt some tightening and on the next it was even more notable so I backed out and jogged home. That was last week and I missed the final day of intervals opting to keep runs easy and never push them along. I did a couple of strides on my Sunday long run and that seem to confirm the hammy is ok so I’ll resume training to the plan.

Long runs and mileage

The switch from a block of pure endurance work to repicking up speed work left the legs struggling on the general runs but it didn’t last past the first couple of weeks. But the introduction of the strides also sapped the legs going into the Sunday and so I haven’t seen much progress on their pace, they’re still around the same pace as last time around.

The six weeks of training I’ve done so far have resulted in 41.3, 45.1, 44.7, 45.7, 42.0, 43.8 miles.

Running form

Since April, I’ve been looking at how sprinters run and trying to apply some of their techniques and drills to my own running. The strides have been useful for this and I’ve particularly been focused on minimising hip rotation through better knee lift. I seem to be getting higher cadences on many runs and that’s going to be an important part of getting faster. The higher cadence corresponds with a concomitant rise in my glutes doing the work.


Once again I’ve really enjoyed this block of training. Getting out and running fast is fun especially as I’ve been finding it so easy to hit target. The hamstring injury is frustrating but I’m hoping that with the next phase of training being longer intervals at a slower pace that it’ll survive. I can run on it as long as I don’t overdo the forces going through it.

In the next phase, I’m meant to up my paces for fast efforts by a 1-sec/200m but, given I’ve been finding it so easy, I’m going to compromise by adding 2-secs so that I’ll actually be aiming for 45s per 200 which is what I’ve usually been running them at. This isn’t recommended as you should train at paces that relate to proven times and I haven’t actually run a 2:48 800 that would justify it.

Parkrun is also due to restart at the end of July and I’d like to attend. I’m not going to run hard every week but I’d like to see where I’m after all this training. I feel like I’m close to sub-20 form. It’ll mean dropping a workout, which isn’t ideal when you’re following a plan, but a fast parkrun will still have benefits.

But the priority is keeping the hamstring healthy.

Update on my 800m training – May 2021

In April’s update I talked about the surprise of seeing no improvement in my 800m time despite seeing myself get fitter, faster and leaner over the course of training. After the time trials, I slipped into a six week block of endurance training taking me through to the end of May.

At the height of training back in January and February my weekly mileages were in the 40-45 range. As the April time trials approached I eased off to let the legs freshen up and recorded a couple of weeks in the high thirties. With the return of endurance training and the bigger runs midweek, the totals for the six week totals were 49, 49, 50, 52, 47, 48.  May alone comes in at 220 miles.

My schedule for this block of endurance was:

  • Monday – 40min recovery run
  • Tuesday – 8-mile Steady run (with warm-up / cooldown)
  • Wednesday – 40min recovery run
  • Thursday – 40min recovery run
  • Friday – 8-mile Steady run (with warm-up / cooldown)
  • Saturday – 40min recovery run
  • Sunday – 11.7-mile fasted Long run

I adapted it once or twice, threw in some strides occasionally but always two Steady runs in the week with a Long run at similar effort level on a Sunday. Recovery runs on all the other days.

Steady improvement

Across the six week I did twelve Steady runs. May was unseasonably poor weather so the conditions varied from complete calm to 20mph winds. All but one was done at the beach where the wind doesn’t always blow in the same direction. I have a 9-mile out and back route from Durley Chine to near the end of the prom at Hengistbury Head. I always just allow the runs to get faster but the first half mile is taken carefully and I discount the split for this, then run four miles out, four miles back and run the last half mile back as a warmdown. This eight-mile exertion takes a little over an hour which is perfect.

Here’s a table of those eight mile runs at the beach. For ease of reading I’ve ordered the miles from fastest to slowest for each run as it allows you to see how the quickest are getting faster.

20-Apr23-Apr27-Apr30-Apr04-May07-May11-May14-May18-May20-May25-May28-May
108:1007:5507:2907:4407:3707:1107:4507:2307:0607:0807:0907:31
208:1507:5907:3607:5107:4407:1807:4907:2407:1007:1807:1107:35
308:3108:0007:3707:5207:4607:2607:4907:2607:2207:2107:2807:45
408:4208:0907:4508:0108:0107:3307:5207:3507:3007:3907:3107:53
508:5508:3307:5008:0309:0907:4707:5507:3808:0407:4808:2807:58
608:5608:3907:5508:0309:1508:0708:1707:4808:2007:5508:3308:00
709:0208:5407:5908:0609:2908:1508:2007:4808:2007:5708:3808:01
809:0508:5708:0308:0709:3008:1608:2107:5308:3108:0008:4208:03
             
Avg08:4208:2307:4707:5808:3407:4408:0107:3707:4807:3807:5807:51

You can see in the first week I couldn’t even break 8-min mile pace on these runs whereas by the final week, every mile was faster. If you track across the fourth mile row, you can see it was beginning to consistently be around the 7:30 mark a solid improvement from the early weeks. The final run was a backslide but I suspect the legs were tired from the excellent 7:38/mile paced Sunday long run preceding them.

This table also highlights how improvement isn’t a linear thing. It can be two steps forward, one step back while you recover and consolidate but if you can stay injury-free there should be an improvement over time. Some of the ups and downs in the table are due to windy days!

Changing run form

In April, I began thinking about my form again. I’ve probably been looking at aspects of my form since 2013 when I bought a cadence monitor and started improving that. It’s a real work in progress and last year when I was doing hill sprints and bounding I began to feel some sense of how to get quicker. In the summer when I strengthened up my core I found it made a difference to my running but I still feel there’s been something missing from my sprint speed.

I reread some of my books which talk about technique and watched some Youtube videos of sprinters and how it is something of a difference action to how most distance runners run. I found some drills and exercises that began to improve my knee lift and instantly I could feel more drive when my feet hit the ground. At my coaching sessions, I do these drills as part of the warm-up to try and help the runners to improve.

Over the course of this training block, I’ve slowly been integrating this new knee drive action into my running and when it’s going well I feel like I’m running on air. My upper body seems to become almost still (other than armswing) and my lower body begins to feel like it’s doing all the work. It feels like I’m running from the hips and every step is driving me forward. My cadence is slightly up and I’ve even begun to notice quieter footfalls at times.

I still haven’t seen this translates to increased speed in my sprints as I haven’t done many strides but I think it may be responsible for the increased pace on my steady and long runs. I’m looking forward to when I get back to the speedier portions of 800 training as I’ll be hopefully be able to further ingrain this new action.

One small downside is that the outsides of my shoulders have ached towards the end of runs. I think this is because as my armswing is becoming freer and driven by running it’s causing muscles that haven’t previously been used to get involved.

Another time trial

Coming off the six week block of endurance I knew I’d speeded up on my easy runs and hoped it would transfer to my 800 time. It didn’t. At the start of June I did another time trial this time clocking 2:53 – so overall five seconds quicker than in December.

It’s possible that my legs weren’t ready for this recent time trial. The final week of the endurance training saw the paces pick up noticeably and this can sometimes lead to what I call a VO2max lull; a 10-14 day period where the body is adapting and takes a step back.

Truth be told I’m somewhat frustrated by the lack of significant progress in the 800 time, especially as I feel fitter and faster but also because I’ve been quicker following my own methods in the past.

I’m going to stick with JackD’s plan for a second go around and throw in the strides he suggests doing to see if this improves my top-end speed. I suspect there’s a missing link waiting to be filled in that will connect my general endurance to my speed and ability. Let’s see what happens.

Update on my 800m training – April 2021

April arrived and I was excited, after four months of following a Jack Daniels 800m training plan, to see how it had paid off. I know I’ve been feeling fitter, faster and stronger but how would it affect my 800m time?

Back in December I ran 2:58 with estimated splits of 39sec followed by 45, 45, 49s.

My fastest 200 in training has been 37.45s, which multiplies to 2:30, so that gave me a cap to what my top end could be. There’s no way I was going to run all four at 37½ so any thoughts of hitting 2:30 were out.

At the other end, I’ve been feeling fairly comfortable running 200s at 44-45s in recent weeks so figured this would be the pace I’d slow to before the final sprint to the line.

This was my realistic range for what I might achieve – 2:35-45. I was hoping I might break 2:40, as that seems like a nice round number. Here’s what happened …

Time Trial #1 – Friday 9th April 2021

I had two recovery days after my last workout and, on the morning, I went for a 1½ mile run to loosen up. It didn’t feel that good aerobically but my legs felt ok.

I had a light lunch, earlier than usual, to ensure it would be digested by the time I ran at six in the evening. I’d selected this day and time predominantly based on weather. My original plan had been to run on Saturday morning thereby giving me three recovery days but the forecast was for it to be 15mph windy by 8-9am. Friday evening’s weather was only 5-6mph and gave the added bonus of having the day to eat and hydrate going into the run. I usually find my body is happier in the evenings.

While I know the 800 is all about effort, and I’d advise anyone to go out at about 90-95% top speed; I was no longer sure what 90-95% would feel like after all the training. I’m now going faster in sessions, even when legs are tired, than I was in December. Unfortunately I didn’t do any prediction workouts and even if I had I probably wouldn’t be able to pace accurately. I decided to just go out reasonably hard and hang on.

On arriving at the park, I ran warm-up and my legs/breathing felt ok. I did three sets of strides and while I felt I put a decent effort into them, my watch was suggesting they weren’t that quick but I put this down to my Garmin being unable to adjust quickly enough so I remained confident.

I gave myself an eight minute break between warm-up and the time trial to let any waste products get out of my legs. But it was a cold, grey evening and I felt a few spots of rain; so I didn’t hang around as long as I might have liked.

I went with the standing split start I’ve been learning, which makes it harder to start the watch, but I was away.

Oh my word, my legs felt unbelievable.

The first time I’ve run hard in months without any lactate in them. They felt so quick and unhindered that it surprised me. I was almost stumbling. I got to 300m and began to start breathing harder but it didn’t feel as tough as it did last December.

Further on my shoulders began to ache. A lot. This only happened to me once in training but apparently also on the last time trial. My legs began to tie up and stumble but I kept going and overall I was feeling confident that I was cutting through the air at pace.

I reached the final stretch, jumping into the empty road and then back onto the path because of walkers and then gave it my final sprint.

My time was astounding …

I could barely believe it …

Two minutes fifty-five seconds.

Only a three second improvement over last time.

It’s so far below expectations that I couldn’t even feel disappointed about it. Four months of good hard training where I’ve felt fitter, faster, stronger and leaner yet no notable improvement.

Perplexing is the word I’d use about it.


Before the next time trial I did recovery runs. On the Sunday I went for a 10-mile long run and began to wonder whether I was really getting the hip or knee extension required to get full force. I started looking at videos on sprint mechanics. Youtube videos and internet articles, the bane of all self-coached sportspeople, but for once I did glean some information that changed how I’ve been thinking about sprinting.

By the time I ran on the Monday, my legs felt like they’d recovered from the time trial and my mechanics were feeling powerful in a way they haven’t in years.

Time Trial #2 – Wednesday 14th April – five days after the first time trial

I decided to start off slower. The first time trial had estimated 400m splits of 1:23 / 1:32 – which are too far apart – ideally there should only be two or three seconds difference. I decided to go out slower, aiming for around 43s on the first 200 (it was 39s on TT1), and if I could replicate that for the second 200m it would take me through halfway in 1:26. In truth, I expected the first section still to be too quick but hopefully by not putting in as much effort, I would be closer to a decent pairing.

It didn’t work out anything like that. I started with less effort but once again my splits for the first 100-200-300 metres each came in at 20 / 40 / 60 seconds but by the 400m mark I was at 1:24 (compared to 1:22-23 on TT1). Once again I started to struggle with the lactate build-up in my legs and arms, and I began to feel my stride ebb away and become uncoordinated. I went through 600 in 2:12-13 (4=5 secs slower than TT1) and finished off with a somewhat lacking sprint to clock 3:00.  Eke!  Worse than my original time trial.

What to make of all this?

While the three second improvement between December and TT1 is technically quicker, to me it’s a negligible improvement, TT2 shows this. I feel there’s something I haven’t unlocked because as I said before I’ve felt fitter, faster and stronger as the months have gone by.

Thinking back on the training, I’ve struggled throughout on the longer intervals of 400 and 600 metres, which points to an endurance issue. I’ve definitely improved it but perhaps not as much as I needed. My Sunday long run has improved from around 8:35/mile to 8:10/mile but that’s still a long way from my 800m pace of 5:50/mile. I’m hoping the upcoming phase of endurance training will bring them closer together.

With regards to following Jack’s plan, I’ve been 95% faithful. I’ve done every effort of every session as he defined them. I’ve not dropped any workouts, swapped days around or changed any of the parameters of workouts. Admittedly my long runs have been longer than his suggested 1-hour but I don’t think that diminished anything.

The one omission that may have been crucial is not doing strides on two of my weekday Easy runs. That might have dug out more speed for the Time Trials but I deliberately didn’t do them as my running history has shown my endurance goes backwards when I do. Even without them, I have found my top end pace is registering as faster. Back in December I couldn’t break 5min/mile but when the time trials rolled around I hit 4:38/mile.

The next six weeks

I decided there wasn’t any point in doing a third time trial, after the second one came in slower, but to begin the endurance phase immediately. It was noticeable that in the following long run, my easy run pace had dropped.

My new schedule through to June involves running eight mile Steady runs on Tuesdays and Friday with a twelve mile long run on Sunday. The rest of the week will be recovery runs and I’ll slip in strides occasionally to keep all the faster muscles involved.

Week 1 – the Tuesday steady peak with an 8:10 mile and the last four miles were all run closer to 9min/mile. Three days later I was hampered by strong winds on the outward leg and pushed home with a peak 7:55 mile for a two-minute improvement.

Week 2 – the first Steady run of week 2 brought calm conditions and a decent improvement. The fastest mile came in at 7:29 and all the miles except the last were under eight minutes. Seven minutes taken off the previous Tuesday’s run. The Friday Steady was relatively calm but my legs must still have been recovering as the last five miles all came in at about 8:05/mile. The Sunday long run, straight out of bed and fasted at 5:55am, was a season’s best on a hillier route via Gravel Hill and Broadstone averaging 7:58/mile

Rounding up my thoughts and feelings

Overall I’m not too unhappy with how this went. As I’ve already said, I know I’m fitter, faster, stronger and lighter. I’ve lost about half a stone in weight since the beginning of January as I began to fire up some of the muscles fibres I’ve stopped using over the past few years. Simply from that perspective, the training has been worthwhile.

I am slightly frustrated though. I’ve done everything by the book and got no result from it. I’m questioning whether Jack’s plan is right for me as I know I’ve self-trained to run whole kilometres at quicker paces than my all-out 800m. I have one or two thoughts on how I could adjust things but I’m going to stick with it for another round of training. I have a suspicion that the endurance training I’ll be doing through May will actually lead to a faster 800 in June.

It became clear to me in February that, entering this training plan, I had a big gap between my easy pace and my 800m pace that needed to be closed up. I hadn’t run faster than 7:30/mile in the build-up and there was nothing to bridge the gap to my 800m pace. While the training did that to a good extent, I believe I now need to cement over the gap and then I’ll start making progress in my 800 time.

I’ll follow the plan again, which will take me through to September and then see where my 800 is at. But parkrun is due back in June so I may find myself attending one or two of those. If I do so, then I’m going to have to go off Jack’s plan somewhat but so be it.

Update on my 800m training – March 2021

Things are coming together at last. I’m in the final two weeks of the plan and tapering towards a couple of 800m time trials in April to see whether the training has paid off. I already know it has and it’ll be good to see it quantified in my time trial, but that’s for next month’s update!!

Although I began following Jack Daniels’ 800m training plan at the start of December, I actually consider training started back on 21st September when I went back to a steady diet of gentle runs at ten minute mile pace, subsequently introducing strides and a faster session midweek.

So really this has been six months of consistent training. I wanted to write “hard work” but apart from putting in big efforts during the twice weekly workouts, and a difficult spell around the start of February when my body was struggling to adapt, compounded by atrocious weather, I don’t believe it’s been hard work. I’ve looked forward to the training, enjoyed it and it’s not felt like a burden at all.

I realised over this past month my body has begun to feel fit and strong again. I hadn’t appreciated a lack of regular fast running over the past 3-4 years has allowed muscles to weaken. That translated in my day-to-day living as minor aches or pains walking up the stairs, or pushing with my hands to get up off the sofa. Nothing drastic, just minor little things that most people put down to the effects of ageing. In some ways they are the effects of ageing but not irreversibly as those people would have you believe. The takeaway is if you stop using it, you lose it. I actually now feel as strong and fit as I did ten years ago, and would like to believe I’m as fit as I was in my twenties although I know that’s not quantifiably true. My running still isn’t as fast it was when I started parkrunning at forty but I can see it’s getting back there and I believe it’s going to surpass that because of what I’ve learned since then.


March’s training has been focusing on what Jack calls T- and FR- pace running which stand for Tempo and Fast Rep. After adjusting for the expected improvement in fitness, these have been mile repeats at 7:12/mile and short intervals (200-600m) at 5:38/mile respectively. To put this into perspective when I began in December the Fast Reps were 44½ secs per 200m, now they’re at 42secs. Training has been going well enough that I’ve been overcooking these with some coming in at sub-40! I even managed a 37.45s effort (5:01/mile).

One of the problems I faced for T-paced sessions is ideally needing somewhere flat where I could keep pace and effort consistent. In other years, I would have gone to the beach or Poole Park, but with lockdown ongoing, as well as the possibility of sand on the prom or people out for a walk; I decided to look closer to home. The roads right outside my front door are fairly flat and quiet, but I’ve always resisted doing intervals on them for no explicable reason other than I always think of warm-up as taking me away from home. Circumstances led me to conclude this would be the best place for the training. Maximising the area available to me, I created a loop measuring 900m which had no sharp turns and only minor ups and downs. On some sessions, it meant I ended up doing a good 10+ laps of the same roads which, I suspect many people would find boring, but I hardly noticed as I was focused on my breathing, pace and sometimes trying to reach the end without completely falling apart! This ‘track’ worked well apart from, where I run in the road my early morning sessions brought me into conflict with people driving off to work.

Around mid-month, my legs began to feel strong and, the walking up the stairs with ease I talked about, came into my awareness. I could tell a step change in my fitness was about to come through and when it arrived my easy running pace improved by 20 secs/mile. It felt wonderful and that improvement then fed into the next session of T-pace running coming in at sub-7 min/mile rather than 7:10. In turn it made the fastest intervals feel a lot easier although not necessarily faster!

I’m not going to do my usual breakdown of successful / failed repeats until next month’s post but my attention was drawn to a bizarre set of times on last week’s 200s. I run these back and forth along a road which I’ve come to realise, has slight undulations to it, and these result in one direction being marginally faster than the other. The four efforts in the slower direction were 41.66 / 41.66 / 42.20 / 41.66 secs. I’m sure you can see the bizarreness of the fastest three being exactly the same time to one-hundredth of a second, it simply cannot be a coincidence. And if I then tell you the first effort on the previous session was … yes, you’ve guessed it … 41.66secs; there’s some kind of limitation going on somewhere in all of this! I’m not sure what it is, my legs were fatigued that day but in the other direction I ran 41.77 / 40.05 / 39.33 / 37.45 secs so it was possible to go faster under the right conditions. Bizarre numbers aside, it’s been a good month’s training.


I’ve got two more workouts to do in April, then the time trials begin. I’m only intending to do two mid-month but this will be weather dependent. If I feel I’ve underperformed I may slot in a third. Analysing my training times, I’m hopeful I can break 2min40 but I’ll report back whatever the fruits of my harvest are!

Update on my 800m training – Feb 2021

What a block of training this has been! You’ll recall from my previous update that I’ve been following an 800m plan written by Jack Daniels and in his notes he said this phase would be the most demanding. He didn’t lie. In the previous update, most of my workouts were short intervals at paces between 5:30 – 6:30/mile to get the legs used to running faster. The rest of my week was easy running to recover. It never felt too bad as my legs have always liked faster running and coped very well with it.

What I hadn’t appreciated about my fitness was … the huge gap in it. Before starting this training I did three months of easy running where the majority of it was 8-10 min/mile. My long runs for example were averaging 8:30/mile in November. Along the way I clocked a few miles close to 7:30 (but only a few) and this is where the gap opened up. I had nothing to connect me between those autumn runs, at 7:30 or slower, to the 800m speedwork at 6:30 or quicker. Bridging the gap is what this phase aimed to do as you’ll see when I explain JackD’s T-pace and I-paced running.


To begin the recap let’s rewind to mid-January and the start of this phase. The first thing was to up the paces to account for (hopefully) improved fitness coming off of the previous block of training. This meant where I’d been running 200s at 48secs they were now expected to be run in 47 secs. Faster 200m repetitions quickened up from 44 to 43s and the other short interval distances were all increased using equivalent paces to these.

The sessions focused on what JackD terms I-pace training which are longer intervals at your predicted 5K pace. These began at three mins (where I managed 700 metres) and incrementally stretched out to five minutes (1,200m). I like what he says on p.108 of his 3rd edition book about how this “adds an aerobic stress but not any faster running speeds, which would be an additional new stress for the body to deal with.” i.e. you only add one stress, not two.  My I-pace has been 6:50/mile (4:15/km).

The T-pace (Threshold) running should have been around 7:20/mile but I’ve found myself running them at 7:10-15 fairly comfortably. I think my recent years of endurance training probably made this easier to achieve than expected. There was also one 40-minute run at M-pace (Marathon) which I ran at 7:45/mile but could feel myself flagging in the last 5-10 minutes. Another gap filler.

There were still lots of 200s, 300s, 400s and 600s being run at fast paces but not the 100+ efforts of last time. Once again I’ve summarised it all in a table below and you can see, while the shorter efforts were generally successful, I struggled on the longer 400s and 600s. I think this is because my legs were often still recovering from the I- and T-paced sessions which totalled well over 45km.

Target timeOn targetMissedEffortsFastest
200m47s1010(2km)38.44s(5:10/mile)
43s12214(2.8km)
300m1min0599(2.7km)59.77s(5:21/mile)
400m1min346410(4km)1:24.9(5:42/mile)
1min26145(2km)
500m1min5711(0.5km)1:53.54(6:06/mile)
600m2min234610(6km)2:17.2(6:08/mile)
I-Pace6min5033134(27.7km)
T-Pace7min2077(11.2km)
M-Pace7min45415(8km)
Total8718105(66.9km)
Stats for those who love them!

What’s been most interesting is Sundays have alternated between doing a Long Run one week, and a workout the next. By the time I’d run warm-up, efforts, jogged recoveries and warmed down home; the Sunday workouts were close to ten miles – not far off my standard 11-12 mile Long Run.  Some of the midweek workouts have also been in the 8-10 mile range.


The first couple of weeks had their usual slump as the legs got used to the new regime. There were some aches and pains occurring especially in my left knee and right calf but these disappeared about three weeks in. My body began to feel comfortable with the training but I fatigued after a heavy fourth week. I found myself sleeping more and the fifth week of training was the toughest I’ve encountered so far. Thursday of week 5 was the workout where I physically couldn’t run fast enough on a set of fast 400m efforts missing target by 2-3 seconds. Fortunately in week 6, my legs perked up and I reaped the benefits of all the training so far. In the final workout I recorded my three fastest 200m times since I started – hurrah! Arriving home my Garmin promptly corrupted the workout so it wouldn’t upload. Fortunately I’d done a cursory review of the numbers in the kitchen. Frustrating but not the end of the world.

My overall mileage stayed about the same as previously and the six weeks resulted in 45 / 45 / 42 / 45 / 41 / 46 miles. These have been achieved with 6hr10 – 40 mins running each week depending on how my other commitments allow.


Weatherwise the training was a nightmare. As a golfer I’ve always found the end of January / start of February to be the worst conditions and I usually took a month off to stay warm at home. But, as a runner, you need to be getting out as often as possible so it’s a case of wrapping up warm, wearing the right gear. This year’s weather was rather diabolical – a combination of high winds, minus-figures temperatures, almost some snow, and two weeks of heavy rain. It seemed to dominate the forecast for every scheduled workout but there were one or two nice sunny days jumping out from nowhere to give surprise relief. Even so, when you’re struggling with fatigue, it’s not encouraging to go into a session knowing high winds will be suppressing your pace. But it’s already beginning to feel like “Spring is here” with mornings getting brighter and even birds tweeting!

The next six weeks focus on T-paced work which so far I’ve found fairly easy, but it includes fast repeats out to 600m which are going to need to be run in 2:06 – the fastest I’ve run so far is 2:13. I’m not looking forward to those but let’s see what happens ..

Update on my 800m training – Jan 2021

I noticed during the 2020 lockdown my speed and strength have been declining and, as I’m not getting any younger, I thought it would be good to try something different while I’ve still got the opportunity to maximise whatever talent is left.

I’ve been toying over the years with trying my hand at middle distance running – 800m or mile. Having always struggled at 10K and half marathons more than my training suggested I should, it’s been a slow realisation that maybe I’m built more towards middle-distance or even shorter. I met Iwan Thomas, the British 400m record holder at Eastleigh parkrun once, and noticed we’re of similar size and build at 6’2” and 13+ stone. (Obviously this isn’t to begin to suggest I could ever have challenged him). But I have all the hallmarks of being packed with speed-generating fast-twitch muscle – I build muscle easily, I sweat profusely, have high heart-rates when running at easy paces, start off too fast and love doing interval work. The only trouble is I was never fast at sprinting!

While I understand the principles behind training for 800m, I’ve never actually done it so I decided to use one of the plans from Jack Daniels’ Running Formula book. I wanted to get a sense of how he structures workouts and what volumes he uses. I’d been running forty miles per week through the autumn so went with the plan based on that mileage. I ran an 800m time trial on Dec 2nd to baseline where I was at and ran a lung-busting 2min58. Not great but a starting place.

The plan has been to run two workouts each week, on Tuesday and Thursday, and a long run on Sunday. While I’ve trained to the workouts scheduled, I’ve continued with a long run of 1hr30+ that I was doing through the autumn rather than Jack’s recommended one hour. He also recommends doing six to eight strides on two of the recovery days but again I haven’t done these. This is because I’ve found in the past it’s easy to develop my speed but, in doing so, I wipe out my endurance. I wanted to try and keep the aerobic side propped up with the long run. The six weeks of training I’ve done so far have resulted in 45 / 41 / 48 / 47 / 43 / 44 miles.

The first workout began with a total of 1,600m training (8x200m) progressing to 2,400 – 3,000m in most sessions with a peak of 3,200m. It’s been exclusively a mixture of 200m – 600m efforts with equal jog recoveries. I’m surprised at how low volume this is compared to what many runners do when training themselves.

Target timeOn targetMissedEffortsFastest
200m48s67976(15.2km)40.6s(5:27/mile)
300m1min1366(1.8km)1:05.79(5:53/mile)
400m1min3726127(10.8km)1:29.01(5:58/mile)
600m2min2644(2.4km)2:13.87(5:59/mile)
Total10310113(30.2km)
Some interval stats for those who love them!

The first few weeks created an overload and the pace of my Sunday and other runs went backwards. This was to be expected as it takes 10-14 days to recover from a new stimulus. I found myself sleeping 8-10 hours the night after big workouts and experiencing more muscular tightness than in the past. As my running form has (hopefully) improved, I’ve found myself landing more on the fore and midfoot and my calves have been taking more load. I’ve had a few aches and pains in random muscles – the inside of the right thigh, below the knee, my left glute but none of them lasted long and the slower, paced recovery days allowed them to heal. I’ve been stretching more to keep everything loose.

Once or twice, I looked at the upcoming session with dread – not because of whether it’ll hurt, but whether I can be on-target for some of the bigger efforts. That’s a real ego thing and something that isn’t good to get too judgemental about. Ultimately there was only one interval I missed by a big margin and that was in the first session of the 400s. It started on an uphill section and I took it too casual – so I learned from it. When I was younger, I’d have beaten myself up about it but now I see a missed target as feedback to whether I’m on track for training. If you start missing targets regularly then there you’re trying to do something you’re not ready for. But once I got into the training I rarely missed target and was more likely to run them too fast. The silly thing is while you can feel you’ve failed for running 48.2s and only marginally missing, you think nothing of it when you run 45 or 46s. Certainly that’s how I would have looked at it when I was younger. But with a wiser head on my shoulders, I tried to ensure efforts weren’t too fast either, there’s no use in adding extra stress when the plan is calculated to give you an optimum loading to recover from.

One of the side-effects of training with all these short intervals – especially the 200s – has been that it’s given me a chance to practice my running form, or rather to play around with it. I noticed I run faster with lower knee lift, that my left leg wasn’t straightening ‘out the back’ and my right hip was coming forward and therefore dragging the trail leg. I noticed over the past week that my left knee was tracking from side-to-side but the lower knee lift gave it more power to push down and straight through. All little things I could only figure out and experiment with by training at faster speeds than a jog. Jack Daniels says in his book that Repetition training is good for improving efficiency but I’d never experienced it to be true until this block of training.


Overall I’ve really enjoyed this training. I’ve been lucky with the weather. It was icy around New Year but I ran at lunchtime when it was warmer and lighter. Some of the sessions have been 15-20mph wind but nothing gale force. Getting out and running fast is fun even when it leads to heavy legs and gasping for breath. It leaves you feeling stronger and better able to cope with running on other days. The next phase of the plan is geared towards supporting this with longer intervals but run at a slightly, slower pace.