Background: Last year, I ran a 17:30 XC 5k, a 4:53 mile, a 2:08 800m and a 58s 400m. Using an age graded calculator, it appears my performance increases relatively up to the 800, and then drops off at the 4. In other words, 800 is my best event, and also happens to be the one I enjoy the most. I’ve been a distance runner since middle school, and used to train solely for the 16 and 8, with the occasional workout tailored to the 8, such as split 800s and 200’s. I’ve read that the 800 is beginning to be thought of more as a long sprint; after all, it uses about the same amount of anaerobic energy systems as aerobic.

I’ve taken it upon myself to train with the sprinters for the indoor season, weightlifting including weighted explosive half squats, arm swings, deadlifts, leg press among other things. We also run stairs a couple times a week: about 80 to 100 flights. Finally, this includes 30s hills with longer recoveries than I’m used to.

Question: Am I training optimally for the 800, taking into account I have a relatively strong cardiovascular base from XC and all my prior distance running? Is this better suited for say, the 500?

P.S. I’m thinking about doing an indoor pentathlon for fun, as I have experience in all the events except 60m hurdles. It seems this training would be beneficial?

  • That's a pretty remarkable drop off in pace from the 800 to the mile to the 5k. It would help if you outlined a typical mid season week from your training. I suspect that you simply don't do enough volume for the longer distances.
    – JohnP
    Jan 2, 2023 at 15:46

3 Answers 3


It seems like you've got a robust background in distance running and square measure currently wanting to include some totally different coaching parts to enhance your performance within the 800m event. coaching for the 800m may be a touch totally different than coaching for extended distance events, because it involves a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic energy systems and needs a mixture of endurance and speed.

The coaching parts you've got delineated , like bodybuilding and running stairs, may be helpful for building strength and power, which might be useful for the 800m event. it should even be useful to incorporate some specific 800m-specific workouts in your coaching, like intervals at or slightly quicker than your target race pace, furthermore as some speed work on shorter distances to develop your stride frequency and turnover.

It's also necessary to contemplate your overall coaching volume and intensity, furthermore as your recovery and nutrition. Adequate recovery and nutrition may be key to maximising your coaching variations and performance.

It may even be useful to sit down with a certified coach or medicine specialist to assist you style a coaching arrange that's tailored to your specific goals and wishes. they will assist you confirm the simplest mixture of coaching parts and supply steerage on a way to effectively incorporate differing kinds of coaching into your routine to optimize your performance within the 800m event.

  • Thanks so much for the reply! In regards to nutrition, I've cut out a large part of junk food and added sugars. I'll make sure to incorporate intervals as you describe.
    – Axolotl
    Jan 3, 2023 at 16:31

You didn't give us enough detail to evaluate training volume, which might be an issue.

One exercise you might consider adding (or replacing deadlifts with) would be power cleans -- very good for explosiveness and posterior chain. However, you have to consider this in the context of the rest of your workout.


I assume from your statement about training with the sprinters that you have a coach. I will answer what I think might help with the caveat that it may change depending on your answer to my comment. (Also, important - See my addendum at the end of the post)

There are a few things that can be affecting the drop off as follows:

  1. You are simply not a distance runner. You are fast up to a point, and then simply fall off a cliff. If so, then yes, concentrating on the 4 and 800m and the pentathlon/decathlon might be worth a try.

  2. You start out too fast and burn yourself out. For example, you drop off 10 seconds in pace between 800 and the mile, and almost 35 seconds per mile in the 5k. That's an indication of poor fitness or going too hard at the beginning.

  3. Volume. You need lots of volume, lots of miles to be sustainably fast at the longer distances. For example, I ran just under 17 mins for the 5k in high school, and between 25-27 minutes for the 8k (5 mile) in college. In his school I was running between 40-60 miles a week, in college it was closer to 90 a week mid season. This is what I suspect is the most likely reason, but may change depending on your workout outline.

There are other items to consider, such as interval and threshold work, how much you weigh vs how tall you are that can also affect times. There is a reason that cross country/distance competitors are all thin.

My final thing - have you talked these concerns over with your coach? They may have insights about why your times fall off, or where they think your best talents lie. I have other questions (Such as how much training you do on your own in the off season, or if you simply show up and run when the season starts), but those are better suited for chat.

  • I believe I am simply a solid mid distance runner. I train seriously for the mile, put it pales in comparison to my 800m. Additionally, I run very even splits regularly, and while I don't crash and burn, I do feel like I've given it my all. My coach rarely allows to run more than 40 miles a week ever, and discourages running faster than ~7:45 min/mile. For this reason, I am almost the fastest runner on my team. I am 6"3' with muscular legs. Because of my body type (and lack of additional training) I think I am best suited for the 800.
    – Axolotl
    Jan 3, 2023 at 16:45
  • @Axolotl - Do you do any speedwork? Hills? Fartlek? Most mileage should be done slow, but there are absolutely valid times that you should be running faster in a workout.
    – JohnP
    Jan 5, 2023 at 14:07

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