Crossing the Golden Training Divide: The Science and Practice of Training World‑Class 800‑ and 1500‑m Runners
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionHaugen, T. A., Sandbakk, Ø., Enoksen, E., Seiler, S. & Tønnessen, E. (2021). Crossing the Golden Training Divide: The Science and Practice of Training World‑Class 800‑ and 1500‑m Runners. Sports Medicine, 51, 1835–1854. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01481-2
Despite an increasing amount of research devoted to middle-distance training (herein the 800 and 1500 m events), information regarding the training methodologies of world-class runners is limited. Therefore, the objective of this review was to integrate scientific and best practice literature and outline a novel framework for understanding the training and development of elite middle-distance performance. Herein, we describe how well-known training principles and fundamental training characteristics are applied by world-leading middle-distance coaches and athletes to meet the physiological and neuromuscular demands of 800 and 1500 m. Large diversities in physiological profiles and training emerge among middle-distance runners, justifying a categorization into types across a continuum (400–800 m types, 800 m specialists, 800–1500 m types, 1500 m specialists and 1500–5000 m types). Larger running volumes (120–170 vs. 50–120 km·week−1 during the preparation period) and higher aerobic/anaerobic training distribution (90/10 vs. 60/40% of the annual running sessions below vs. at or above anaerobic threshold) distinguish 1500- and 800-m runners. Lactate tolerance and lactate production training are regularly included interval sessions by middle-distance runners, particularly among 800-m athletes. In addition, 800-m runners perform more strength, power and plyometric training than 1500-m runners. Although the literature is biased towards men and “long-distance thinking,” this review provides a point of departure for scientists and practitioners to further explore and quantify the training and development of elite 800- and 1500-m running performance and serves as a position statement for outlining current state-of-the-art middle-distance training recommendations.