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1600 Meter Race

Post Series: Racing

The 1,600 meters is a four lap race and roughly 80% aerobic and 20% anaerobic. Improvement of the aerobic metabolism is extremely important. The critical zone for the 1,600m race is the last 400m especially the last 200m. We want to get to the critical zone in the best situation possible with the most available energy, enthusiasm and drive.

I would read this a few times and internalize and visualize it. This is your road map for the 1600.  Be sure to have warmed up properly and that you are mentally prepared, CONFIDENCE OVER COMFORT, to challenge yourself. Each race has certain checkpoints to help break up the race in bite size pieces and to navigate to optimal results. Remember task oriented goals to reach outcome goals!

Confidence, anxiety, calmness, anxiousness, trust and fear are some of the feelings you may experience prior to the race. That’s OK; its normal.  Just breathe calmly to your navel, let the confidence in and anxiety out with every breath.  This is a good time to self talk and reset your mind to a blank screen and soon replace it with your visualized experience.  Be rhythmic in your actions, strides and thought as this helps prime yourself to the IPS.

Now that your warmed up!

We break the race into four parts and try to reach each of these checkpoints fluently. The approach is 6-4-2-4.

The task for the first 600 meters is to get into rhythm for your goal pace; you can do this quickly within the first 200 meters of the race and settle into rhythm. Typically you will get to the 400 meter mark within plus/minus 1 to 1.5 seconds of your pace en route to the 600 meter mark. You want to be controlled and rhythmic. Be patient and in control. Many times runners go out too fast, jockey for position and waste a lot of energy bumbling around. Don’t be that person! Stay relaxed, rhythmic and fluid. There’s still a lot of race.

Once you reach the 600 meter checkpoint you will now think 400 meters. The task is to focus on your belly breathing, form and continued on the target pace/rhythm. On a side note: if your off pace, too fast or slow, make the adjustments over the next 200 meters gradually and you want to do this by feel.  It’s a relaxed concentration in anticipation of the physiological challenge that will soon approach as you near the 2-2.5 minute mark. The race will start to string out and those that started too fast and may have difficulty continuing to produce ATP at that current pace/rate and will start to fatigue as they get closer to predominant aerobic metabolism.

When you reach the 1k mark you will mentally prepare and physically regroup for the next 200 meters to compete in the critical zone. The task is to do a mental check: arms positioned well, running tall, belly breathing, good stride rate, shake out, striking position etc. This is your window of reprieve in anticipation of the last 400 meters.

The last 400 is a build up into the last 200 meters. You want to be controlled and accelerate slightly into the curve as you start your the last lap. When you reach the 300 meter mark you want to maintain momentum and acceleration as you approach your GO point. When you hit your GO point it is a moment of commitment and you bring it home! Drive the elbows back, think quick feet and hammer down. Everyone around you is challenging you to kick as fast as you can!

Because this is a distance event many times the last 400 meters is the fastest split. Usually the first and last laps are the fastest with the middle laps at pace. An example could be a 4:20 miler runs the first 400 in 64 with the middle laps in 66-67 and the last lap in 62/63.

Best high school boys kicks in the 1600:

Coach Belo

Coach Belo is a USA Track & Field Level 3 and IAAF Level 5 Certified Coach for Endurance and Jump Events. Graduate work is in Exercise Science from Humboldt State University and currently is the Head Cross Country Coach at Mission Viejo High School and Director of GrassRoots Athletics.

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