How to Train for a 1600 Meter Race

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If you are training for a track and field event and want to improve your time for the 1,600-meter run, remember that every runner has good days and bad days. You should look at your overall improvement rather than being fixated on the stopwatch on any given day. Working with your coach to put together a training plan tailored for you will help you to improve the most. However, there are a few tips and steps to take when putting together your plan.

  • Build a strong base for eight to 12 weeks before beginning any training program. The base should consist of developing stamina and turnover by focusing on continuous running at a pace that is comfortable to talk to your training partner. If you are starting fresh without previous running experience or you are coming back from a long break, begin with 30-minute workouts, gradually moving to an hour.

  • Run interval repeats with 90-second breaks between repeats. Time yourself on each interval and record your progress. Start out running 400s and switch to 800s when your 400 times consistently match the pace goal for the 1,600-meter race. Use a pace chart to gauge your times for the 400s and 800s as they relate to your target time for the 1,600-meter race. As you continue to improve, decrease the break time from 90 to 60 seconds between intervals. Do at least a mile's worth of 400s or 800s to build up to race pace. A runner should be running 800s at race pace within the first two months of training.

  • Practice running at anaerobic levels, which means that you are sprinting at a rate that is unsustainable due to exertion and lactic acid build-up. According to the website Coaches Education, 1,600-meter runners need to run between 550 and 650 meters anaerobically at the end of the race. Form a greater tolerance for lactic acid build-up by practicing your anaerobic pace, basically sprinting the last 600 meters at the end of mile repeats at least two or three times in each workout.

  • Work with a coach on your running mechanics throughout the training season. Examples of running mechanics for distance runners include planting the foot directly underneath the hip, tucking in your butt and tailbone, running with a slight forward lean and allowing the arms to hang loosely and close to the body without excessive movement. This will not only improve your motor functions, it also will help prevent long-term injuries resulting from improper form. Along with running mechanics, consult with your coach on specific plyometric exercises that can help improve your form and muscular balance. Developing proper mechanics, form and muscle balance helps to push past running plateaus, resulting in a better overall time throughout your training.

  • Run hills at least once a week throughout the training season. Work with your coach to develop a hill workout plan that includes shorter hills run at faster paces. Uphill running increases power and strength while downhill running improves running economy and muscle elasticity. Hill repeats should be no longer than 100 meters, with at least four to five repeats on hill workout days.

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