- At Track Minnesota we have been very successful at developing young middle distance runners with a training program based on intervals. Of course we make sure our athletes have a good aerobic base and spend time working on flexibility and core strength at every practice. But the heart of our training is a combination of interval workouts developed (or stolen from other coaches) over many years.
We teach our beginning runners to break their races into 200 meter segments and attempt to run even splits. For example most of our 10 year old 800 meter runners are capable of running in the 2:40 range or 40 seconds per 200. Once every week we will do 200’s at 40 seconds. We start the season holding the rest interval to 3 minutes and doing 6 X 200. We progress to 2 sets of 6 X 200 and finally to 3 sets of 6 X 200. We also cut the rest interval to 2.5 minutes and then to 2 minutes making sure there is a full recovery between sets. We use this basic format for all of our 800 and 1500 meter runners, adjusting the pace to fit their abilities.
We use a variety of other interval-styled workouts and ladders, believing that they give us the most effective way to build both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. We also make sure that every week includes at least one day of long easy distance running, preferably on grass, one day of speed work such as 3 X 300 or 3 X 600 faster than race pace with full recovery between runs and one day of rest. A sample mid-season week might look like this:
Sunday: 3-4 miles easy running
Monday: 2 sets of 6 X 200 at goal race pace (3 Min. rest interval; full recovery between sets)
Tuesday: 3 X 1200 (90 sec 400 pace) full recover between runs
Wednesday: 3 X 300 faster than goal race pace – Full recovery between runs
Thursday: Distance ladder: 1 X 1000 meters at 3000 or 2 mile race pace; 2 X 500 at 1 mile race pace; 4 X 300 at goal 800 race pace (rest interval 3-4 minutes; heart rate return to under 100 bpm)
Friday: 3-4 miles easy running
Saturday: Rest day
We work very hard to give every runner a time for every training run. We have them take turns leading the intervals and making them responsible to hit the split time so that by midseason even the younger runners have developed a sense of pace.