800 metres Training
As all athletes have different needs, a single program suitable for all athletes is not possible. A training program has to be developed to meet the athlete's individual needs and consider many factors: gender, age, strengths, weaknesses, objectives, training facilities etc. The program supplied here is just an example and will require updates to meet your specific aims and objectives.
Before starting any training, you must have a medical examination to ensure it is safe for you to do so.
Overview of the Training Program
The season's training plan is based on six phases, each comprising a repeated four-week program. The workload in the first three weeks of the four-week program increases each week (easy, medium, hard), and the fourth week comprises active recovery and tests to monitor training progress. The four-week cycles aim to:
Remember, a training program is athlete specific, and the results of the tests in the fourth week can be used to adjust the training in the next four-week cycle to address any limitations.
The content and quantity of training each week and phase will depend on many factors. The Planning page provides an insight into tdata gathering and preparing training programs.
Example Training Plan & Programs
The objective of each phase, with links to examples of a season's training plan and four-week training programs for phases 1, 2 and 3, are as follows:
The content of the four-week programs in phases four and five depends very much on the athlete's progress and competitive races. Your aim in these phases is to address any limitations the athlete may have to bring them to peak performance for the major competition in phase five.
In the specific training phases, you will see that you run at three different paces - race pace, 5% faster than race pace and 5% slower than race pace. To do this, you must decide on a realistic target time for your 800 metres in phase five. Using appropriate tests in week four of the training plan can determine if your target time needs adjustment and the session times on your training plan.
What are the objectives of running at these three different paces?
The following are links to the appropriate page for the activities identified in the training programs.
The pace indicated for the sessions is in terms of the percentage of a distance pb. e.g. 3 x 500 metres in 800 metres tpb+5%. If the athlete has a target personal best (TPB) of 110 seconds for the 800 metres, then running at tpb+5% pace would require the athlete to complete the 800 metres in 115.8 seconds (110 x 100 ÷ 95), so the 500 metres should be completed in 72.38 seconds (115.8 ÷ 800 × 500).
Using scientific reasoning and historical evidence, Prendergast (2002) establishes an optimum pace distribution for the 800m that will result in an athlete's fastest time. A model in terms of the average speed for the 800m goal time is:
For an athlete aiming to run the 800m in 1 min 46 secs, then the 200m splits would be:
Pace Distribution Calculator
The following evaluation tests can be used to monitor the middle-distance athlete's development:
Middle Distance Time Predictors
Test results make it possible to predict potential times for a middle-distance event. The available middle-distance time predictors are:
Prediction based on 800 metres time
It is possible to predict your 400 metres, 1500 metres, 3 km, 5 km, 10 km, ½ Marathon and Marathon times from your current 800 metres time using Frank Horwill's four-second rule for males and Frank Horwill's five-second rule for female athletes.
A model for 800-metre success
The following articles by Dr Matt Long and Geoff James present a model for 800m success and then apply their model to the all-time greats:
Rules of Competition
The competition rules for this event are available from:
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is: