T Nation

Improving Mile Time?

I know this is the “strength sports” section, but recently I’ve put my sprint training on a pause when my coach asked for me to become a mid-distance runner for this indoor season. I am expected to run from the 400, 800, and 1600ms this season.

Because of my previous focus on 55-200m sprints and vertical leap training, I really have no idea how to train in the gym and on the field for mid distances. I am naturally a pretty good long distance runner, with a 15 minute 2.2 mile. How can I improve my mile time? What is tempo running and how does it affect my training? Thanks

Is this HS or college? You do know that at the HS level a decent 2 mile time will be well under 11 minutes? That’s almost 5 minutes less than your time right now.

All I can say is, and this comes from personal experience, expect to get skinny and lose strength. You can’t be a competitive distance runner and remain muscular and strong at the same time.

I’m going to agree with the guy above.

Assuming you are a guy, you should be able to roll 7 min miles for 5-8 mile runs, no problem.

I ran sub 4:40 in high school and my two mile was under 11, and my 5k mid 17’s.

You need to up the mileage big time. Think 20-40 miles a week going into the season.

My bad I meant my 2.5 mile is 15 at the HS level.

As far as running workouts are concerned, if your coach isn’t giving you anything, the best thing to do is intervals. Try 8 to 12 x 400m with an interval of 60 sec, 5 x 800 m with a 2 or 3 min interval, or 12 x 200 with a 1 minute interval. obviously, good warmups and cool downs, do 4 x 100m before and after the body of the workout. I always liked to throw a balls out 300m sprint in at the end of the workout beofre the 100s because that gets you ready for your kick at the end of the race.

In the gym, do compound, full body stuff. Curls aren’t going to make you a better miler. Squats, cleans, pull ups, bench, etc. Still, you’re talking about being a middle distance runner, so you’re talking about maybe 3 or 4 exercises 3 days a week after your run if you’re ru8nning with the team.

[quote]thesixteenth wrote:
As far as running workouts are concerned, if your coach isn’t giving you anything, the best thing to do is intervals. [/quote]

I wouldn’t go with intervals just yet, especially since you haven’t done any distance before.

You are going to need to bring your endurance way up, and that means lots of LSD (long slow distance) runs. Get some 45 or 60+ minute runs in, but make sure you are ready for them first. Don’t worry too much about the miles covered, the time spent running is more important right now.

Of course, listen to what your coach is (hopefully) saying. He knows you, and we don’t.

Now is the time build up your base.

[quote]sciencewolverine wrote:
I know this is the “strength sports” section, but recently I’ve put my sprint training on a pause when my coach asked for me to become a mid-distance runner for this indoor season. I am expected to run from the 400, 800, and 1600ms this season.

Because of my previous focus on 55-200m sprints and vertical leap training, I really have no idea how to train in the gym and on the field for mid distances. I am naturally a pretty good long distance runner, with a 15 minute 2.2 mile. How can I improve my mile time? What is tempo running and how does it affect my training? Thanks[/quote]

T-Mag is a GREAT site… BUT… Why aren’t you asking this question at Runner’s World or something?

I wouldn’t go to Runner’s World asking how to get jacked. Why would you come to a BODYBUILDING website asking how to be a skinny runner?

[quote]sciencewolverine wrote:
I know this is the “strength sports” section, but recently I’ve put my sprint training on a pause when my coach asked for me to become a mid-distance runner for this indoor season. I am expected to run from the 400, 800, and 1600ms this season. [/quote]

The 800 is pretty much where distance and sprints blend. You will find a mix milers with decent 400 speed (myself) and strong 400 guys. The mile is pretty much a completely different animal and you should have your coach work with you on this. Different mindset, training methods and racing strategies not to mention I wore different spikes for the 1600 than I did for the 400. In High School you may be able to be competitive in all 3 events but if you plan on competing in college you will need to pick which way you want to go.

Your coaches should really be helping you with this. Basically if you want to be more of a 400/800 specialist then you can train with the sprinters and just add is some base endurance work. If you are looking more for 800/1600 then get out and start working LSD and I hate to say this but use hills for strength training rather than worrying about weights in the gym. Like I said thats just a basic idea. Go talk to your coaches and ask for help.

I was a middle distance guy with good speed in HS and was able to quadruple up with the 4x400, 800, 1600, and 3200. But as I moved up in levels of competition I had to start specializing. By the time I got to college I was just training for 800 to 1500m.

Good luck with the training.

Let me preface this by saying I am not nor have I ever been a competitive runner. That being said…

I am in the Navy, abd one thing the Navy does twice a year is our Physical Readiness Test(pushups, situps, and 1.5 mile run). I also keep myself in much better shape than the average squid, due to the added demands of my job. I have always ran the 1.5 in the mid 10’s(not stellar, I know), and last fall I ran a 10:15 while deployed to the Middle East. After returning, I stopped distance running and my only running was sprints, specifically, something I found on this site called Litvinov’s. Basically, go do 8 front squats, then immediately sprint a quarter mile. Brief rest period, and repeat. I would do 4 sets of these, totalling a mile. For convenience, I did the sprints on a Woodway treadmill in our gym, so it was right next to the squat rack.

Long story short, when I ran the spring PRT, I ran a 9:09, and felt better than I did running the 10:15 last fall. I’d say a time reduction of 1 minute is significant, though I don’t remember how many weeks prior to the PRT I did these for(2x per week) and I can’t find my PT log for that tiem period.

Tempo training - This is when you run shorter interval workouts at the same pace that your race would be.

For example, I was a decathlete in college and our 1500m training workouts would be running 600, 500, 400, 600, 500, 400, with all runs at a 400m pace of 70sec (4:40 mile pace), and 2-3 min rest. Each week we’d lower that 400m pace and lower the rest interval a bit. After about two month-long training cycles, we were hitting at least 60sec 400m pace on all our intervals (A little faster on the two 400m runs). My 1500 time was usually somewhere in the 4:30’s, so those were about 70 sec 400’s. Keep in mind that was the last event at the end of day two of a decathlon, so if I ran one fresh, my pace probably could have been closer to our training runs of 400’s down in the 60’s.

Of course we had a lot of other things to focus on training-wise, so our other running days were 200m-based sprint training, and a few days of short stuff (30-60m). We also had two morning runs a week of about 2-2.5 miles. We usually ran those as fartleks (1min hard, 2min jog).

I would say if you’re not going to be running under 400, you probably have decent foot speed from your 55-200m training. You should definitely focus on the longer runs and 400m pace tempo training. If you’re running more than the mile, you’ll need more longer endurance runs, possible some 800m interval training. Your foot speed will be fine; it will be a while probably before your endurance isn’t the limiting factor on your times.

I didn’t notice if you said what level you were competing at, but your coach should definitely have an idea of what kinds of training program you should be running.

As far as weighttraining, you will lose muscle mass if your training a lot of long distance. Your weightraining should still focus on full body stuff though, like Olympic lifts, squats, and could still include plyos. You should definitely still work on core strengthening and hip musculature strengthening drills (like hurdle mobility drills, steps-over and unders, etc.) Core and hip stability and endurance are even more important in distance running because every step will be more efficient with a stronger core.