The 800m race strategy is evolving and new questions are emerging about how to run the 800m fast. some coaches want their athletes to run the first lap slower and then speed up the second lap (negative fractions), while other coaches recommend running the first lap faster than the second lap (positive fractions).
I will be honest and say that the negative split method could be beneficial for young, inexperienced, poorly trained 800m athletes because they will most likely try to run most of the race comfortably and then run the last part. this is not to say that negative split 800m races are not for elite athletes, because some elite 800m athletes use this race strategy, but statistically most of the fastest 800m times in the world have been run using the positive split race strategy.
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Whether you’re an experienced and well-trained middle distance athlete or not, I’m sure you want to know how to run the 800m, and you want to know how to run fast! As you continue reading, you’ll see that this description for running the 800 fast is with the positive split running strategy.
the start of the 800 meters
The start of the 800m can make or break your race strategy, and this could be the difference between a successful or unsuccessful result in your 800m. this is especially true for the more challenging indoor 800m that is commonly run on a 200m track. If you plan on breaking a track record, your own personal record, or if you like to race up front and stay away from the pack, then you want to get off to a good start and put yourself in the best position for racing success.
When the gun goes off, you want to accelerate up to your target 800m race pace aggressively within the first 20-30m. the goal here is not to mess around getting into the right race pace and you’ll certainly want to make sure you get into a comfortable position amongst the rest of the 800m field.
Depending on the size of the track and how the official wants to run the competition, the 800m break line (where the track athletes cut off) is usually located after the first corner or the second curve. it depends on whether the match official wants to run a stagger of one or two turns. however, even though these are typical rest lines, be prepared for 800m races that use a cascade start.
800m cascading starts can be used for both indoor and outdoor courts and with this type of start you may find yourself interrupting immediately after the sound of the gun. why? because the start line of the waterfall is also the rest line and you can enter once the race starts.
Important: When entering, be aware of your surroundings and use good judgment when positioned after the free throw line.
don’t be afraid to come early
It’s all too easy to find yourself boxed in, locked in, or stuck against the rail somewhere early in the race. If you run into this problem early in the race, don’t be afraid to make a move to put yourself in a smarter racing position. if you get in a terrible position and wait too long or aren’t paying attention, the pack could split up and you’ll waste your efforts trying to maneuver around the runners to close the gap.
the 200 meter timestamp
When you hit the 200m mark, you should be 1-2 seconds faster than the next 200m you’re about to run. so if your goal is to run the first 400m split in 55 seconds, you would run your first 200m in 27 seconds and then hit the 400m mark 28 seconds later (55 second 400m split).
first lap: 400 meter mark time control
When you really compete in a solid 800, you should be running your 400 pace around 90-93% of your best 400 meter time. so if you’re able to run 400m in 49 seconds, then you’ll want to get to the first 400m of your 800m race in around 52-54 seconds.
the end result
Assuming you have a well-executed training plan, you should end up with your second lap being 2-3 seconds slower than your first lap. if you came in slower than this number, you’ll need to determine if weather, race tactics, training, or any other unforeseen factors had anything to do with the result, and then make changes accordingly.
save energy and run the last 100 m
Probably one of the most common problems I see with young, inexperienced track runners is that they will comfortably run most of the race. then, with the finish line in sight and 100m to go, they take off and literally run and look like they didn’t even try to run the first 700m.
don’t let it be you. distribute your running energy throughout the entire run and not just in the last 100m. you’ll be happier with your race results and probably even avoid being teased by saving all your energy for the last 100m.
slow down before the finish line
Most track athletes and spectators have watched races that have been lost or won at the finish line. a good example is a race where you overtake an athlete right at the finish line due to an unforeseen swell from a competitor in the closing moments of the race. so keep in mind that whether you’re in a close race with a competitor or not, you should always race to the finish line.
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