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Training for 1200/1600

Answered By Jeff Arbogast


Hi, I did XC this year and am doing track this spring. My school races the 1200m and I am wondering if you could give me some training advice specifically for it, or the 1600m. I'm hoping to do better than I did in XC, I did well but I still need to improve tremendously to have a chance at taking districts. Hear are my times and places in my 2 best races: 13th of 103 with 9:49.8 for 1.5 miles and 11th of 104 with 12:01 for I think 1.8 or 1.9 miles. Please help me to get a training program that you think will help my speed if you can. Please respond ASAP, I need to start training.


A great question, and one probably many other athletes could ask. Your XC and track seasons can be approached with a different emphasis. By completing XC you have established a strength and distance base that (provided you have continued it with some running from November-now) will certainly help you maintain form and efficiency during the higher velocity track training. You are well on your way to "training like the Africans train" by doing a macrocycle of XC, so now all you have to do is reestablish your training priorities around speed and speed-endurance. Your weekly microcycles in track will have an opportunity to put three tough workouts together, usually on a M-W-F or T-Th-S. Racing is another complexity, but let's deal with the training aspect in this question. In that microcycle you need to have one short speed (faster than race pace but with complete recovery) workout, and one speed-endurance (roughly race pace longer reps with short recovery) workout. The third hard workout each week can be a race, overdistance, a hard fartlek, power run, hills, etc. that would be longer. Your short workout is for turnover and legspeed . . . workout bouts of less than 300m with a full recovery, but run with super form and high speed. A good example would be repeat 150s or 200s for the 1200m race. 10-12 of those with a full recovery (heartrate back down) at 5-6 seconds faster than race pace per 200 after a good warmup, followed by a 10-15 minute slow cooldown is a good example. Your speed-endurance workout would be longer intervals, run at race pace but with incomplete recovery. For the 1200m race, 5-6 x 400m run at race pace with a 1:1 recovery (if it takes you 85 seconds to run the workout bout, rest for 85 seconds) is perfect. Keep the workout bouts evenly paced . . . run the last as fast as the first. Space these workouts with easy runs on your off days, Hydrate, eat, and rest (8 hours of sleep minimum) well. Set your priorities around your training, and keep your goals high. Nothing in track training is difficult to understand . . it's just difficult to maintain the training consistency you need to improve. Once you get yourself started though, the workouts build inertia and you are off to the races!

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