Ask the Coaches: Training for a 1.5 Mile Run
As featured in the issue of Running Times Magazine
Q: Training for a 1.5 Mile Run: I am trying to get my 1.5 mile from a 10:55 to a sub-10:00 (I know it's still slow but I am a weight training guy trying to run). I am not sure how to get this done quickly. I need to do this as part of a qualification for work. I currently train fairly instinctively, usually a few 30 minute runs a week with 2-3 intervals &/or 1/4 or 1/8 repeats. Thank you for whatever help you can offer.
A: Dear JP,
First of all, let me clarify the distances I'll talk about below. I assume that you will be tested on the standard 400 meter size track. So even though your test is billed as 1.5 miles, it will actually be 2400 meters. Since the difference per lap is only 7.5 feet shorter for 400 than 440 yards (1/4 mile), just ignore these language differences and understand that you are actually getting a bit of a break since your test will probably be 45 feet short of 1.5 miles.
If my calculations are correct, you goal pace has to be roughly 10 sec per 440 yard lap faster. You are now running each lap in about 1:50 and therefore will need to improve to 1:40 per lap. So you'd better stop bulking up in the gym and instead spend just two days per week in there just maintaining your current level of strength. Instead, get out to the track and do the following workouts.
Day One: after a warm up jog for 5:00 and some light stretching, run 16 x 100m on the straightaway in 23 to 22 sec with a 100 meter walk jog around the curve for recovery. This is your speed workout to help you stay relaxed when you slow back down to race pace.
Day Two: Before you do your weight training, warm up and then jog 8-10 laps at around 2:15 (9:00 min per mile pace). This workout will not only help you recover, it will add a little endurance to your fitness base.
Day Three: Off.
Day Four: Usual warm up and then run 6-8 x 400 in 1:55 to 1:50 pace with a 400 walk/jog recovery. It is important to NOT run these any faster, so resist the temptation or you will become over-trained in short order. This workout will improve your cardio-respiratory systems to get oxygen to your muscles.
Day Five: Repeat Day Two.
Day Six: Warm up and then run 3 x 800 at goal pace of 1:40 per lap with a 800 jog recovery interval This workout will do the same as Day four, but, more importantly, will teach you race pace and how to suck it up and be tough when you start to huff and puff so hard that smoke comes out of your ears.
Day Seven: Take off to recover from all the excitement of so much running.