800 metres Training
A training program has to be developed to meet the individual needs of the athlete and take into consideration many factors: gender, age, strengths, weaknesses, objectives, training facilities etc. As all athletes have different needs, a single program suitable for all athletes is not possible. The program supplied here is just an example and will require updates to meet your specific aims and objectives.
Before starting any training, it is recommended you have a medical examination to ensure it is safe for you to do so.
Overview of the Training Program
The seasons training plan is based on six phases where each phase comprises a repeated four-week program. The workload in the first three weeks of the four-week program increase each week (easy, medium, hard) and the fourth week comprises active recovery and tests to monitor training progress. The four-week cycles aim to:
Remember a training program is athlete specific, and the results of the tests in the fourth week can be used to adjust the training in the next four-week cycle to address any limitations.
The content and quantity of training in each week and phase will depend on many factors. The Planning page provides an insight into the process of data gathering and preparing training programs
Example Training Plan & Programs
The objective of each phase, with links to examples of a season's training plan and four-week training programs for phases 1, 2 and 3, are as follows:
The content of the four-week programs in phases four and five depends very much on the athlete's progress and competitive races. Your aim in these phases is to address any limitations the athlete may have to bring him/her to a peak of performance for the major competition in phase five.
In the specific training phases, you will see that you run at three different paces - race pace, 5% faster than race pace and 5% slower than race pace. To do this, you have to decide on a realistic target time for your 800 metres in phase five. The use of appropriate tests in week four of the training plan can be used to determine if your target time needs adjustment and accordingly, the session times on your training plan.
What are the objectives of running at these three different paces?
The following are links to the appropriate page for the activities identified in the training programs.
The pace indicated for the sessions is in terms of percentage of a distance pb. e.g. 3 x 500 metres in 800 metres tpb+5%. If the athlete has a target personal best (TPB) of 110 seconds for the 800 metres then running at tpb+5% pace would require the athlete to complete the 800 metres in 115.8 seconds, (110 x 100 ÷ 95) so the 500 metres should be completed in 72.38 seconds (115.8 ÷ 800 × 500).
Using scientific reasoning and historical evidence, Prendergast (2002) establishes that there is an optimum pace distribution for the 800m that will result in an athlete's fastest time. A model in terms of the average speed for the 800m goal time is:
An athlete aiming to run the 800m in 1 min 46 secs then the 200m splits would be:
Pace Distribution Calculator
The following evaluation tests can be used to monitor the middle-distance athlete's development:
Middle Distance Time Predictors
Based on test results, it is possible to predict potential times for a middle-distance event. The available middle-distance time predictors are:
Prediction based on 800 metres time
It is possible to predict your 400 metres, 1500 metres, 3 km, 5 km, 10 km, ½ Marathon and Marathon times from your current 800 metres time using Frank Horwill's four-second rule for male athletes and Frank Horwill's five-second rule for female athletes.
A model for 800-metre success
The following articles by Dr Matt Long and Geoff James present a model for 800m success and then apply their model to the all-time greats:
Rules of Competition
The competition rules for this event are available from:
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is: