19 Program Design Articles That Will Immediately Upgrade Your Entire High School Middle Distance (600m-1600m) Program

From fall 800m training and speed vs endurance considerations to preparing a complete annual plan, here's everything you need to know about designing and implementing a modern day training program for high school middle distance athletes.

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1. The Four Critical Workouts of the Middle Distance Competition Period

Critical Workouts for Middle Distance Runners

"Rest is an important theme of the competition period because strength is gained through rest following an adequate training period.  Rest can be found in several places including a toned down lifestyle for the athlete, and in training it can be found in extended recovery days between hard work sessions and a greater emphasis on rest between bouts of work in a number of the harder training units.Middle distance coaches frequently and excessively fret over the competition period work sessions.  Are they too easy or too hard?  Are there too many or too few repetitions in a workout session?  What is better: short or long rest?"

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2. The 800m Runner: Speed (Type 1)

The 800m Runner: Speed (Type1)

"The 800 meter run is considered the shortest endurance race in track and field.  While it is twice the length of the 400 meter dash it retains some of the physiological and psychological characteristics of that event.  Here we will consider the 800 meter runner. In profiling the 800 meters the importance of speed, speed endurance, strength, and stamina cannot be understated.  It is the only race in track and field where the first half of the race is typically faster than the second half if done properly."

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3. The 800m Runner: Endurance (Type 2)

The 800m Runner: Speed (Type1)

"On most high school teams the 800 meter runners are usually distance runners that have also competed in cross country and need a boost in their anaerobic energy system development to compete effectively. High school coaches need to be skilled at developing both Type 1 and Type 2 800 meter runners to make a complete distance crew. The Type 1 runner, is the 400 meter runner moving up to the 800 meters, while the Type 2 800 meter runner is a miler, two-miler, or cross country runner moving down into the event."

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4. Age Appropriate Distance Training

Age Appropriate Distance Training

"One of the most important reminders for those coaches involved in training young distance and middle distance runners is they are not simply miniature adults. Not only are the bodies smaller, the mind less experienced, the systems of the body not at full development, but also training has far different effects and considerations as compared to adults. Success in distance running at any age requires high levels of energy system and muscular fitness, technical skills and motivation. For runners young and old, training to develop these qualities can be very demanding. Distance running can place extraordinary requirements on the young athlete’s body and mind. Understanding growth and development issues as well as the demands of aerobic and anaerobic training is crucial to training youngsters."

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5. When Middle Distance Performance Plateaus

Middle Distance Performance Plateau

"What exactly is a performance plateau in middle distance running?  It is a temporary stagnation or slight decline in racing times or in key training markers.  When a plateau becomes evident to a runner it can be very discomforting and may lead to a questioning of the training, over-reaction to the situation, and even panic.  Rather than being a cause of concern it is important to realize that once a runner has been training for any period of time it is inevitable that they will hit a performance plateau.  In fact, if you have not witnessed this phenomenon, there may be something wrong with the training program."

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6. Calories as Energy Currency

Calories as Energy Currency

"Calories are scientific units of measurement that are used both in energy intake and energy expenditure by animals.  But, what really are the calories importance to a middle distance runner and their training and racing?  The everyday use of the term calories is a means to indicate potential energy in the foods that are available for consumption.  In actuality, foods are measured in kilo-calories (KCAL) or one thousand calories per Calorie.  This is a scientific unit of measurement.  Running the mile uses energy and this use can be measured in calories as well. This would be energy expenditure."

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7. Periodizing Special Endurance 1

Periodizing Special Endurance 1

"The training sessions now commonly referred to as Special Endurance 1 work are an important part of every 12 day middle distance microcycle.  Sprinters, middle distance and true distance runners all have it as part of their training on a scale of emphasis relative to the length of their race distance. The differences between Special Endurance1 work done by sprinters and distance runners are few, with the most evident being a little greater session volume with distance runners and a little faster workout pace by sprinters because of a longer rest interval."

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8. Fall Training for the 800m Runner

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Needs for Middle Distance Runners

"The fall preparation period for the 800 meter specialist should include an emphasis on the following fitness components: aerobic fitness, flexibility, strength development, injury prevention, hilly long runs, mileage buildup, development of good patterns of nutrition and sleep cycles, and the development of innately driven pace knowledge individualized for each athlete."  Read the Rest of This Article....


9. Components of the Middle Distance Training Plan

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

"Training a middle-distance runner is an intricate activity that balances aerobic work with anaerobic work. Ten important principles have been identified to help coaches achieve an understanding of the concept of training.  A thorough study of these ten points is crucial in understanding humans as living organisms in regard to what work they can do, and when they can do it. For your training plan, the ten general physiological training principles are..." Read the Rest of This Article...


10. 4 Goals of 800m Training

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“The 800-meters is an endurance event. However, the 800-meter is raced more like a sprint event, in that the first half of the race is faster than the last half of the race in top performances.  It is the only endurance event that relies on “positive splits” for the fastest performances. The 800-meter event is a challenging event to coach because there are a variety of ‘athlete types.’  While there is no singular correct training protocol, all should share in these four goals…” Read the Rest of This Article…


11. The Macrocycle (Middle Distance Annual Plan)

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“When a middle-distance coach reaches for a template and begins setting up a sequential training and competition plan it is called plotting the macrocycle. The next objective in plotting the macrocycle will be to enter the start dates of each of the microcycles.  But before that can be done a middle-distance coach needs to determine the number of days in each microcycle. A good macrocycle should have two effort rating scales that the athletes understand…” Read the Rest of This Article.


12. The Twelve Day Training Microcyle

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“One of the most important terms in training theory is the microcycle. The length of a training microcycle is not determined first in setting up a training plan. To begin the process a list of workout themes that are appropriate for that time of year is needed. These workouts need to reflect the characteristics of the middle distance races. The training theory goal is to complete a twelve-day microcycle, and then adjust and realign the workouts within and begin the next twelve-day cycle…” Read the Rest of This Article…


13. Structuring a Workout Session

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“Scientists working in sophisticated, modern laboratories have provided coaches with contemporary research findings such as rest issues, recovery protocol, economy efficiency and muscular actions such as stretching guidelines to help with structuring a workout, and which they can apply to their athletes. Much of this new information is directly applicable to setting up a modern practice session for the athlete in such a way as to not only attain more work, but also to aid in regeneration issues as the athlete recovers…” Read the Rest of This Article…


14. Why 10K Pace is Critical for 400/ 600/ 800m Athletes (Video)

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“Planning training for our primary event 400/600/800m athletes comes down to finding the optimal mix of ‘speed’ and ‘endurance’ related training activities. In doing so, we must be aware of the impact our own personal coaching bias plays in selecting various workout parameters. This video explains the necessity of using 10k pace *throughout* the training year, as well as how to progress it…” Watch this Video…


15. Recovery, Regeneration, and Rest

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“A good marker used in determining recovery time for an interval style of anaerobic work (8 x 400 meters as an example) would be the clearing rate of lactate. Active recovery would be characterized by a combination of walking and jogging. It is now up to the coach to decide what percentage of recovery the middle-distance runner should achieve before the next bout of work begins. This time period varies slightly from athlete to athlete but can be generally categorized as…” Read the Rest of This Article…


16. Speed or Endurance in the 400m, 600m & 800m Races?

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“The determining factor for consistent success in the 400m, 600m and 800m events ultimately boils down to one overarching biomotor ability/physical capacity: speed. The point of training is to develop faster top speeds and a greater speed reserve, not handle the ability to run a large number of submaximal intervals. Speed development is a year round process, not something sprinkled in over the last six weeks of the season or whatever extra old school distance coaches still prescribe…” Read the Rest of This Article…


17. Goal Setting for Middle Distance Runners

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“When goal setting for middle distance runners, it is recommended that all athletes write their goals down on paper. This helps them set a contract with themselves while also serving as a constant reminder as to why they are training so hard. There should be three categories of goals by each runner: 1). attainable goals, 2). pinnacle goals, and 3). process goals…” Read the Rest of This Article…


18. Winter Training and Athlete Wellness

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“The winter months are the time of year when people, including endurance athletes, tend to have more illness such as upper respiratory tract infections. The emphasis for the coach in preventing the incidences of this type of illness in their athletes should be on practical, habitual rituals that the runners should adopt into their lifestyle…” Read the Rest of This Article…


19. Middle Distance Winter Training

Workouts For Middle Distance Runners

“Middle distance winter training is the time of the year that many physiological development gains can be made in middle distance athlete fitness, and not just in the endurance component of training.  Speed, strength, coordination, and flexibility gains can be realized as well during this calendar period despite the weather…” Read the Rest of This Article…


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