Fast middle distance in athletics - 800 and 1500m


The training of fast middle distance has evolved over time: from an extensive type of work we passed to an intensive type, based mainly on speed; on the other hand, later the exact opposite also happened, namely that great results are were obtained by developing a greater resistance to speed by the 400 metrists. In reality, the forms of resistance to be developed are: aerobic endurance and power, lactic acid endurance, specific endurance and strength endurance; obviously, to a different extent from each other but without exclusions.

Importance of energy metabolisms in fast middle-distance running in athletics

First of all, it is necessary to highlight a crucial aspect, namely that, by examining the parameters and times of the large samples, it emerged that the percentage of TOTAL ANAEROBIC work corresponds to 50% of the TOT one (10% alactacid and 40% lactacid); this means that, even in the 800m, aerobic power (aerobic metabolism) plays a DETERMINING role for the success of the performance (about 50% of the TOT).
In the 1500m the aerobic metabolism assumes an even greater importance, indeed, predominant (70%); however, remember that, to ensure the maintenance of the race speed, it is always essential to develop a certain tolerance to lactate in the muscles and in the blood.
Ultimately, for an 800sta it is still essential to develop many of the qualities belonging to a 400sta, while having a greater quantity of red or glycolytic-oxidative fibers (genetic predisposition is important) and having an aerobic power almost worthy of a prolonged middle-distance runner.
But if aerobic power is such an important capacity to develop for fast middle distance running in athletics, despite its threshold being placed at an "intensity lower than race speed, what is the most suitable criterion for establishing the right SPEED" / INTENSITY "of training?
To the most prepared readers it will seem like an obvious question and they would answer:

... the correct speed / intensity to develop aerobic power by raising the anaerobic threshold is the deflection value (see - read dedicated articles on the Conconi test), that is the anaerobic threshold itself! ...


For a fast middle-distance runner, the intensity of aerobic power stress MUST necessarily INCLUDE also the massive activation of the anaerobic lactacid metabolism, bringing the speed of execution MUCH closer to the MAXIMUM OXYGEN CONSUMPTION (measurable with the VO2max criterion). This speed is called Vamax and is calculated:

To simplify the detection of these parameters, which would require some specific tests, we remind you that:

  • The Va max corresponds approximately to the race speed in 3000m
  • The Va max is 20% lower than the race speed in the 800m and 10% in the 1500m

To conclude, the fast middle distance runner should perform EXTENSIVE aerobic endurance work near the anaerobic threshold and SPECIFIC aerobic / mixed ones at a speed between: 75-80% of the race speed in 800m and between 85-90% of the speed of race in the 1500m. By further increasing the intensity it will be possible to intervene on athletic abilities in an even more specific way.


The Handbook of the Athletics Coach - First part: general information, races and walking - Study & Research Center - pag. 69-84.

Other articles on "Fast middle distance in athletics - 800 and 1500m"

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  2. Training for the Fast Half Fund
  3. Extended Half Fund - 5000 and 10000m - General and Training
  4. Extended Half-Fund Training - 5000 and 10000m - 2nd Part
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