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  • 800 race strategies

    i just started coaching high school distance runners this spring. i haven't run an 800 since i was in high school about eight years ago, and i don't know how i should have my kids racing it (because i didn't really know). what are some good strategies? i know the first lap should be faster than the second, but what are some other things they (and i) should know about this event?

    thanks for your help.

  • #2
    Re: 800 race strategies

    Correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm sure y'all will), but one should try to run an even pace, but because of the onset of lactic acid build-up, a 'perfectly' paced 800 is 2 seconds slower on the second lap. Dave Wottle's huge 'kick' in Montreal was actually just the result of a rarely run negative split (53.3 - 52.6). Kipketer's WR was a 49.3 - 51.8.

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    • #3
      Re: 800 race strategies

      A few years ago, someone on the t & f list at Oregon suggested that high school races should have a designated turtle. Many HS runners go out way too fast and end up dying.

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      • #4
        Re: 800 race strategies

        Earleir thread on this topic

        http://65.110.36.121/tfn/discussion/vie ... sage=20042

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        • #5
          Re: 800 race strategies

          go pre, Take this for what it's worth. I've coached all levels and I've found viewing world class strategies do little for the novice HSer. I've had success with the following strategy for first timers: Get out hard the first 100 (nervous energy), and settle back into a fast, but relaxed pace on your midfoot. Do not lead. Get on the rail and let the pack pull you along. Feel like you are gliding smoothly but holding back ever so slightly. By the frontstretch, the beginner will start to weaken. Tell them to relax this stretch and feed off the others around them. Be sure to see the whole race or you will fade with someone falling out of the pack. Mid way through the penultimate turn, there has to be a 'build' feeling or you will fade. In reality, you will stay the same pace, but it must feel like building or you will drop. Down the backstretch, relax but feel yourself getting in position to kick. Anywhere you feel capable within the final 200, get on your toes and accelerate. Sprint without straining and shorten your stride thinking rapid turnover if tightening. This gets them through an initial effort. Assess splits, strengths, & weaknesses to develop a true individual plan for additional races, but this has seemed a successful strategy for gathering the necessary assessment data. Good luck!

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          • #6
            Re: 800 race strategies

            thanks, buckeye ii. i think that will help quite a bit. but while two of my three 'good' 800 runners are young (2 soph. girls and a senior boy), they hardly are beginner or novice runners. all of them, especially the two girls, should be battling for medals at state (wisconsin small school division). both girls ran 2:23 splits in the 3200 relay last year as freshmen (should be around 2:20 or faster come championship time) and the boy is shooting for 1:56. is there anything different i should be telling these 'elite' runners, or should i just tell them to go out with the leaders and be ready to move with 300 to go?

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            • #7
              Re: 800 race strategies

              Buckeye's advice sounds like a terrific introduction to the race, but if you have experienced, high level runners it has to be up to YOU and the kids to determine their individual strengths physically and emotionally and to determine a unique race strategy for each one. Every runner will vary. Some have base strength and the mentality to be frontrunners, others have quick accerlation and can wait for a late opening, some need to push over a longer period, some will need to stay away from flying elbows in the pack, others need to mix it up with the crowd, some know their own pace needs, others need to feed from the competition, etc. etc. You know the race, the kids, and the variables well enough to make these judgments... you may not be certain (no one ever is), and you may make errors (everyone does from time to time), but in the end, you are the coach, Coach, so coach!

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              • #8
                Re: 800 race strategies

                I'll try and help if I can. I ran the 800m as a high school sophomore and junior befor moving up to the mile and 2 mile as a senior. I was a consistent 1:57-2:02 800m runner back then and so was competitive for the win in most local/regional high school meets.

                I tried and won using all different tactics, lead the whole way, waited in the back and kicked, negative splits, going out way tooo fast, etc.

                The method that works best depends on the athlete's talents. If they have superior speed their tactic may be different from those that are more stregnth runners.

                Assuming a nuetral talent pool I found the easiest strategy both mentally and physically was to good out hard around the first turn to get clear of the heavy traffic and elbows, settle into a quick pace in second or third, just off of the leaders RIGHT shoulder. Then in the middle of the final turn moving up on the leaders right and sprinting by in the final straightaway.

                This is ideal if one has good closing speed, but of course not all races go as planned so the runners must be adaptable mentally and physically.

                I would have your runners concentrate more on racing and strategy than running certain paces. Most runners, especially young ones, will perform better if they are mentally engaged in a race (runner against runner) than if trying to hit a certain split.

                Hope this was of some small help.

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                • #9
                  Re: 800 race strategies

                  It IS important to remember that a brilliant strategy for one runner may not work for another. There is no one way. Adapt the training AND the race strategy to each individual's abilities. The foregoing advice is so obvious that I apologize here and now, except for the fact that I have seen coach after coach try to fit everyone into the same mold.

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                  • #10
                    Re: 800 race strategies

                    I advise running both quarters in under 50 seconds. That should be a pretty good strategy.

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                    • #11
                      Re: 800 race strategies

                      Of course, it could also work well to run both quarters in under 45. That could also be a good strategy, maybe even better.

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                      • #12
                        Re: 800 race strategies

                        thanks for the input. i think i'll have them test different racing strategies over the next few weeks (races in which there won't be much competition for them). of the two girls, both have pretty good speed (:61-:63 quarters early in the season), but one is clearly better in distances over 800 (top ten at state cross meet last fall), so she'd probably be the stronger runner of the two and be better able to handle a longer kick.

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                        • #13
                          Re: 800 race strategies

                          those splits that king posted from the link are superb research

                          "Wilson Kipketer(DEN)
                          1m:41.73s(=WR)

                          49.6s/52.13s

                          1m:41.24s(WR)

                          48.2s/53.04s

                          1m:41.11s(WR)

                          49.3s/51.81s

                          1m:42.67s(WIR)

                          50.22s/52.45s


                          Sebastian Coe(GBR)
                          1m:41.73s(WR)

                          49.7s/52.03s

                          Jarmila Kratochvilova(TCH)
                          1m:53.28s(WR)

                          56.28s/57.00s"

                          ideally you would want to run the race at basically even pace thruout (equal laps) but reality tells us that for men this seems impossible - the best that you can hope for is a 2nd lap slower than the 1st by 2s (in record races)

                          if anyone is interested, you can get an estimate for what the above races coulda/shoulda/wouda have been if they had run them with laps differing by only 2s

                          fortunately though, i've got the afternoon off & that means i go drinking. if there is any interest, i could post them later

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                          • #14
                            Re: 800 race strategies

                            Let’s keep this in the context of inexperienced runners. For your less experienced runners seed them according to your best estimate based on their training and skill. Get them in a race where they will be competitive. Tell them to remain in the lead pack because they are running with kids of equal ability, and to put their best effort forward. That doesn’t mean that they will win, but teach them to stay in touch with the race to give them a chance to win. If you get them thinking of all these different strategies that go down the toilet once the gun goes off they will lose confidence when things don’t go according to plan. I always say, “just try and be competitive, and the times will take care of themselves.” Once they develop and are competing at a higher level they will have the confidence needed to implement and change strategies based on certain runners and changing race conditions.

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                            • #15
                              Re: 800 race strategies

                              In coaching my 800 runners, I usually felt that well trained guys should be able to go out about 4 seconds slower than their best open 400, and then slow down 3 to 5 seconds for the second lap.
                              Hence a 52 400 runner goes out in around 56, comes back in 59 to 61, running 1:55 to 1:57. This "formula" worked best for endurance type guys. In any case, in HS runners, and some college guys, rather than just saying "compete" I would try to get them to run the best race their abilities allowed, and the place took care of itself.
                              It makes no sense for HS 52 400 kids to go out in 54 or college 49 400 kids to go out in 51, then end up disappointed as they crawl down the homestretch, feeling as if they are carrying heavy inantimate objects, and being passed by everyone in the race.

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