Getting Faster At The 800 Meter Run

Want to Improve my 800 Meter Run Time

by Emily
(Indiana, US)

Hello I am a 15yr old sophomore high school runner. I run XC and the 800 meter run and 4 x 800 relay for track. My best time in XC is 19:50. I currently run a 2:26 in the 800. I really want to improve my 800 time. Track is my favorite sport. I am not sure how to do it. Should I be lifting weights? Everyone says NO! since I run XC in the Fall, I also play basketball in the Winter. Track is my favorite sport. I feel like I am pretty puny and need to gain muscle. I am 5’7 107lbs. Can you help me with what I need to do to train to become faster??


Hello Emily,

What a great question. Thank you for giving me all the background information on your athletic history. So, your main goal is to improve at the 800, is what I take. Cross country and basketball will both help you with this goal. Staying in shape during the off-season will help you a ton. The endurance you can build from CC and the quickness you get from basketball will both contribute to running fast in the 800.

Now, as for lifting weights, I don’t see anything wrong with that. One misconception is that when you start lifting weights, you immediately bulk up into this mythical muscle woman. That just doesn’t happen.

Mo Farah, the guy who won the Olympic 5k and 10k, added a lot of strength training and lifting into his workouts before the Olympics. That worked well for him, and he still is super skinny.

My suggestion would be to focus on push ups, sit ups, lunges, planks, and other core work. These exercises will build your overall strength, and you don’t have to get into the weight room to do them.

Keep doing what you are doing as fas as cross country and basketball too. Oh, and one more thing, maybe some strategy during the 800 meter race would help you to improve your time.

Watch the video below for tips on running the 800 meter race.

Happy Trails – Coach Tief

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Middle School Training for the 800

by Chris N. Johnson

My daughter has just started track and is in the 7th grade. She ran the 800 and 1600 in her 1st meet last week.

We were surprised that she won the 800 and finished 3rd in the 1600. There was 20 girls in the 1600 and 17 in the 800. She ran the 800 in 2:53. Is this a good time for 7th girls?

Not sure what she ran the 1600 in. What is your advice on how to train for the 800. She has practice at school 2 times per week and she misses one practice because of prior commitment.

What can we do on our own to help her continue to get better?

Thanks, Chris N. Johnson

First of all, don’t get too serious because your daughter is only in 7th grade (12-13 years old I’m assuming). That is pretty young. One thing you want to do for sure is to make running fun, and to make sure to avoid creating too much pressure for her.

That being said, there are some tips I can help you with. First of all, 2:53 is very good for her age. That is under six minute mile pace, which is very fast for middle school.

If you are missing one practice a week, I suggest making up that practice by doing a distance run on that day. If she is only going to be in practice once a week, I actually suggest that she does two distance runs per week on her own. That would make for three days where she runs.

When she goes on the distance run, just set a time for her to run. I suggest doing an out and back run. Have her run out for five minutes, and then turn around and come back home. You can always run/bike with her to keep her motivated. Just plan on these runs that the goal is to go out for the first five minutes and run nice and easy. When you turn around, just try to get back home in faster than five minutes (for a total time of running probably between nine to ten minutes).

This is a very basic idea for a workout, but the most important thing at this age is getting into a healthy routine that is still fun to do.

As for the race, you can check out these 800 meter run tips to help your daughter run a smart race as well.

Happy Trails – Coach Tief

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Faster 800 Time

by Middle School Runner

How did you get an 1:54 on the 800? I’m in middle school and im running an 2:20.

– Middle School Runner

Well, considering I ran this in college when I was 21 years old and had been running for competitively for 10 years, I had a lot more training than you have experienced in middle school.

Running a 2:20 in middle school is blazing fast anyways. You could end up being a very successful runner with that kind of talent.

So you better understand my progression, I’ll list my best times through the ages. You can see that although I ran a relatively fast 800 time in college, you could do this too if you stick with the sport of running.

In middle school, the only races I ran in were the physical education tests. I think I ran just over 6 minutes in the mile, but we weren’t tested at the 800 meter dash.

In high school, I wasn’t very fast in the 800 until my senior year of high school. I don’t remember any of my times from my freshman to junior year, but my senior year I ran 2:00. I didn’t run the 800 often in high school. I focused more on the 1600 and the 3200.

In college, I still focused more on races a little longer than the 800, but my senior year of track, I ran a couple of 800 meter races with my best being a 1:54.

During all of these years, I ran cross country in the fall. That fact should be very important to anyone who is serious about being a good 800 meter runner. Even though the 1/2 mile is much shorter than what you run in cross country, running xc will give you an excellent endurance base.

I hope I didn’t give you too much information. The short answer for you would be keep on running! You’ll get this time if you really work at it. It just might take you until you’re in college.

Happy Trails – Coach Tief.

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800 training

by Miranda

I am a high school middle distance runner. I was wondering what I should be doing during practice to train. Our coach has us run with the distance runners, and I feel like this just gets us used to running at a slower speed. We could train with the sprinters, but then we aren’t getting the endurance we need.

What do we do?

Hello Miranda

The short answer is to do both! I don’t know if this is possible with scheduling and such, but the 800 is 50% endurance and 50% speed. You definitely need both of these to do well in this race.

Is it possible to go out on the distance run and then cut it short. Come back to the track and then do some sprinting?

I would ask your coach. He or she would probably love your enthusiasm and be open to letting you do both workouts.

The ideal situation would be to do two regular distance runs a week. On two or three of the other days, run a shorter distance run and then do the sprinters workout.

I hope these ideas help. Just make sure to talk to your coach and you can both work it out.

Happy Trails – Coach Tief

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This article was written by David Tiefenthaler, the founder and main contributor for In addition to running, he’s also an author, and a full time teacher.

You can follow David on Twitter @Tiefsa or visit his blog.

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