800 Meter Tips – Develop a great plan for running the 800.
Looking for 800 meter tips? Find a great race strategy here. I loved the 800 meter run. It’s the perfect blend of stamina and speed. You can’t go out too fast or you’ll burn up, but going out too slow will leave you in the dust.
Don’t forget to get into good shape or maintain your running in the off-season. If you are in high school, play a sport in the winter to build quickness and endurance.
Basketball, wrestling, swimming, or if you live up north, cross country skiing can all be great for your track season. Otherwise, get out there and run. Here is some strategy 200 meters at a time.
Start to 200 – Get out fast and relaxed. Don’t cut in right away.
200 to 400 – Work your way into good position for the last lap.
400 to 600 – Push it! Don’t relax.
600 to 800 – Make a move early. Don’t wait to kick
The video below breaks down each part as well. Also, read the rest of the article for in depth tips on dominating your next 800 meter run.
Before you jump into any race, you need to be good at two important but overlooked aspects of running. First, understand how to run relaxed and fast. The second part is you need to develop a race plan.
Before you plan your race, understand what works for you the best. I wasn’t great at going out fast. I liked to run a quick first lap, but I tried to pass people after the first 400. Maybe you are the opposite, and run better with a faster start.
One thing that definitely won’t work in an 800 meter run is trying to run even splits or a faster second half of the race. Only a very select few have wicked kicks at the end of an 800, so don’t count on a fast kick to give you a great time.
I like to break any race into four sections. Here’s how to develop a great 800 meter race plan.
1. The first 200 meters. Get out at a good pace. You won’t have to deal with much traffic because the 800 usually has a staggered start. When you come off the first curve and you can cut in, don’t immediately go to the first lane. You have the entire backstretch to find a good place to settle in. I would just aim for the start of the next curve and run in a straight line. This is called taking the tangent so you don’t run any further than you have to.
2. From 200 to 400 meters. Stay relaxed and fast. Don’t make any sudden bursts during this part of the race. If you feel slow, then gradually push forward. A sudden change of pace burns up too much energy at this point. If you are running smooth and fast, your first split should be a bit under an even pace. My best 800 was 1:54 in college. The split at the 400 meters was between 55 and 56 seconds.
3. From 400 to 600 meters. This is where you have to consciously pick up the pace. If you feel like your holding your pace, you are in reality slowing down! Make a move here to pick it up. Stay smooth and fast. Don’t strain your face or upper body because tight muscles will slow you down. If you are a strong endurance runner, here is where you need to use that strength and pass people if they are in front of you.
4. From 600 to 800 meters. The final 200 meters of the 800 are so unbelieveably tough. Your legs are burning up. You are probably gasping for air, and you want to clench your fists and grit your teeth. Don’t tighten up though. Stay as smooth as you can. Focus on keeping your running form together and push forward. Off the last turn I always imagine its a catapult or a slingshot. I put my head down and charge. Most people will slow down here because they tighten up. If you can stay smooth and keep your form together, you’ll do great down the homestretch.
Remember that you have to get out on the first lap a bit faster than your race pace. Going out at an even pace doesn’t usually work. It is very difficult to set a personal record this way. Here’s why. Let’s say your best time in the 800 is 2:20. You decide to go out at even pace, but at the first lap the pace is slow at 1:11. You then make a big effort to push the pace, but only cross the finish line at 2:22. What happened you say. Well, to hold onto your pace, you have to feel like you picked up the pace. Your body will naturally slow down, as well as the other runners in the field. If you set out on a good pace from the start, you might have smashed your best time.
Those are my 800 meter tips. Now get out to the track and start flying around those lanes!
– Written by David Tiefenthaler