Are 800s the Ultimate Fitness Test?

Have you ever run 800s?

If you’ve competed in track and field there’s a good chance you may have some experience with this distance. And therefore you know how awful this event can be.

Why is it so awful? Well it’s too long of a distance to sprint and not long of a distance to really pace yourself. It’s basically 2 to 3 minutes of pure physical discomfort.

And if you’re into that sort of thing than you’ve found the perfect workout to inflict as much pain and discomfort as you can handle.

But there are a few other reasons I like the 800s as a training distance as it provides valuable feedback as to what you should workout on to improve performance. Below are 4 Benefits of Running 800s.

Benefit #1 – Measure of Overall Speed

The nice thing about 800s is that you do two laps of a track oval to achieve this distance. And based on your time you get a bit of an idea of your overall speed. If you want to know how you compare to the world record you can do two laps and see how close to 1 minute 40 seconds which is the current world record.

Are you within 30 seconds of the world record? 60 seconds? More? Test yourself and see how your overall speed ranks.

Benefit #2 – Measure of Your Pace

As I mentioned at the beginning you can’t sprint an 800 m nor can you pace yourself. And after running this distance a few times you’ll quickly learn a bit about your pace.

For example, let’s say your total time was three minutes which is not too shabby. And your splits were 1 min 40 for the first lap and 1 min 20 for the second. Since most people tire in the second lap these splits tell us you are not going out fast enough in the first lap since you are 20 seconds faster on the second lap.

Benefit #3 – Measure of Your Fitness

Imagine if you could run the 800 m in two minutes even. And let’s say that your splits were 50 seconds on the first lap and 1 min 10 on the second lap. While your overall speed is great, since you are running an awesome time of 2 minutes, you are slowing down by 20 seconds on the second lap.

To give you an idea of how big of a deal 20 seconds this is almost 150 m. In other words if 2 athletes could run 50 seconds on the first lap but one ran a 1 min 10 on the second lap he would finish 150 m, or more, behind the athlete that could maintain this pace.

If this is you and you notice your 2nd lap split to be significantly slower than perhaps a little work on improving your fitness will help you shave time on your second lap.

Benefit #4 – Measure of Mental Toughness

If you work with a team of athletes this is a great way to see who will dig deep and push and who eases up. And who will take the prescribed amount of rest and continue working through multiple reps.

It’s not uncommon for athletes to enjoy running sprints. And there will also be those that don’t mind putting in the mileage and doing 30-60 minute runs. But to really test mental toughness it may be necessary to have them run some 800s and separate the men from the boys.

Chris [fb-like]

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