Training Ideas 800m to Cross Country For Developing Athlete

Author: Steve Bennett

* It is much more important to improve balance, posture and stability of the trunk than it is to improve leg or arm strength. To generate high levels of acceleration and speed requires a trunk that can transfer the force.  Almost everyone has a standing body alignment that is not ideal and also have an inadequate ability to maintain good body position ie Trunk stability.

* Distance athletes should aim to develop the ability to relax when running at race pace. The focus should be on running quietly over the ground and with minimal effort from the upper body.

* Fingers should be relaxed and elbows should be held close to the body and swing behind the plane of the body. (This may require improved shoulder flexibility in some athletes)

* The shoulder girdle should be loose and allowed to bounce not be held down in a fixed position.

* The athlete should not try to lean forward ( a very slight lean in fine.)

* Arms should be held with relaxed and the main focus of effort should be a downward & backward stroke. They should also not move very far forward from the body (as this causes athletes to overstride late in the race)

The 800m event needs special training at the 800m race speed. The ability to relax and use little energy is important at race pace.

Some sessions to improve performance in the 800m are:
 A/   10 x Flying 100m at 400m race pace rests 3min
 B/   2 sets of 4 runs over 200m at slightly quicker than 800m race pace with rests 90s and 4min between sets.
.C/ 3 x 400 at 800m race pace rest 10min

800m athletes should also complete much of the endurance training suggestions that follows later in this article. They do not need to do as much steady running as the longer distance athletes but more of the time they spend each week should be on sprinting and race pace practise.

It is important to have good foot function and for this reason it is useful for athletes to spend as much time as possible barefoot.  Walking on sand is very good. (Running on it is not recommended).   Training should be conducted in very light simple shoes. Simple lighter more flexible shoes called Racing flats from the Runners Shop are much better than joggers for training in.  Some coaches worldwide have reported an increase in the frequency of injuries in athletes with ultra supportive “high tech” shoes this has been suggested to be because these shoes gradually allow feet to become less functional.

In Cold weather athletes must warm-up carefully and keep warm. Tights are great for training in as they maintain warmth during the frequent recoveries. Keeping warm immediately after training is one of the secrets of avoiding being sick less often in the winter months.

Training for endurance needs to consist of 3 to 10 steady runs during each main training week. These should be of similar duration and involve starting off slow and gradually running faster ( the speed depends on how you feel on the day). Start at 20min and buildup slowly as the athlete matures to 30min and then later 40min. Aim to run on all kinds of surfaces with a high percentage on trails and grass. Make sure there is some running on harder surfaces as well as this will prevent problems caused by racing on hard tracks and roads when it happens. Complete some race pace strides over 60m during or near the end of most steady runs. eg An 800m athlete could do 5 x flying start 60m runs at about 800m race pace with a comfortable recovery. The focus on these is on relaxation at race pace.

Each week should include about 2-4 sessions  that are not steady runs. These sessions can include any of the following:
-Races (not too often)
-Long bushwalks
-Sprint Training
-Tempo Sessions
1/  Race pace practise not high stress eg  6 x 200 at 1500m race pace with comfortable rest in between.
2/ 4 sets of 5 flying 60m runs at 400-800m pace very relaxed. Rests 2min between and 5min between sets (activity with medicine ball)

-Aerobic Power Sessions
1/  2 sets of 6 runs over 200m at Cross Country Race pace rest 30s between each run and 4min between sets.
2/  2-3 sets of 3 runs over 300m at Cross Country Pace rests 45s walk/jog 100m and 4min between sets.
3/  3 x 1000m at about 3km to Cross Country race pace rests 8min
4/ (Advanced) 2 x 1500m at slightly slower than 1500m race pace rests 20min

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Thanks for the information mostly goes to:
Adrian Faccioni (University of Canberra), Vern Gambetta (Gambetta Training Systems), Mike Hurst (Coach of Darren Clark, Maree Holland, Debbie Wells), Ron Wyld (Dalton Grant), Michael Khmel (Matt Shirvington, Patrick Dwyer), Cliff Mallett (Paul Di Bella, Damien Marsh, Sharon Cripps), Esa Peltola (Patrick Johnson), Peter Fortune (Cathy Freeman, Tamsyn Lewis, Lauren Hewitt),Tudor Bidder (Renee Poetschka, Declan Stack, Susan Andrews), Roy Boyd (Kyle Van der Kuyp), Jackie Byrnes (Melinda Gainsford, Jana Pittman), Phil Geddes (David Geddes), Lindsay Watson (Zid Abou Hamed, Todd MacDonald), Colin Wright (Tim Jackson, Jenny Laurendet), Paul Laurendet (Holt Hardy, Marty Byron, Amber Menzies, Clinton Hill), Matt Barber (Dean Capobianco), Andrew Jackson (Rachel Massey-Jackson), Loren Seagrave (Speed Dynamics, Evelyn Ashford, Donovan Bailey), and Dan Pfaff (Bruny Surin, Obadele Thompson, Donovan Bailey).