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PROTRACK » Coaching & Training » What Rudisha needs to do to run sub 1-40 (& 800m Splits Discussion)

What Rudisha needs to do to run sub 1-40 (& 800m Splits Discussion)

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Can David Rudisha Run Sub-1:40 For 800 Meters?

By Amby Burfoot
Peak Performance
July 26, 2011


David Rudisha is one of the most dominant 800-meter runners ever. He's won umpteen straight races, including the 2009 World Athletics Final, and late last August established the current world record, 1:41.01.

Too bad Rudisha hasn't figured out how to run a fast 800 yet.

In his world record, the Kenyan cruised through the first lap in about 49 seconds (I can't find video or text that supplies a precise split; his pacer hit 48.20, but Rudisha was a long stride or two back at the 400.) That means Rudisha slowed to a 52.01 for the second lap.

Bad pacing, you probably think. He went out too fast, and hit the wall.

This would be true if his distance was the 1500, or anything longer. At the mile and up, world records are almost always set by even-pace running that's capped with a big kick over the last 400 meters.

In the 800, however, the smartest pacing strategy is to run the first lap in 47% of your total time. At least that's the conclusion reached in a recent journal article in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. Two of the co-authors are Carl Foster and Alejandro Lucia, both leading experts in practical training and performance strategies for endurance athletes. The article compared the optimal pacing strategies in 200 meters swimming, 800 running, and 1500 speed skating, all of which take about two minutes.

For Rudisha, a 47 percent first lap would be a 47.47. In other words, if he wants to break his own world record, he should consider running close to 47 seconds for the first lap.

Interestingly, the same first half/second half pace strategy doesn't work in the other two sports. In swimming 200 meters, the best pace strategy is one that comes remarkably close to even-pace. Apparently swimmers can maintain their pace because they get to push off the wall every 25 or 50 meters.

Speed skaters slow quite substantially in the second-half of their 1500-meter races. It seems that they use a lot of energy to get up to top speed quickly at the beginning, and then experience a big drop in power production later. Still, the authors note that an 800-meter runner or 1500-meter speed skater should take "a calculated risk that he or she can use early power output to otipmize energy losses, while not inducing an 'energetic catastrophe.' "

We can look forward to future races in which Rudisha takes the risk. He comes from the famous Maasai peoples–pastoralists, cattle-raiders, warriors–and his father won a silver medal in the 1968 Olympics as a member of Kenya's 4 x 400 relay team. He's got the right stuff, and he seems likely to become the first runner under 1:41 in the 800.

Sub-1:40? That's a long way off, but it's also a tantalizing barrier–the kind that haunts the human spirit, and beckons attempts to be the first.

http://protrack.easyforumlive.com

MOB

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I'm not so sure about the 47% theory - may well work for 400 / 800 athletes but for 800 specialists or 800 / 1500 athletes, this seems dangerously fast early.

Using my mediocre PBs from many decades ago as an example - as a 1.59 800 athlete, in order to equal or beat that based on the 47% plan, I'd have to run low 56 for the first lap. That would be way too close to my 400 PB of 54. In fact the couple of times I did go through in sub 57, I went major lactic over the last 200 and blew out completely. The only way I could break 2.00 was to run between 58 and 59 for the first lap. Anything else was too close to 400 pace.

Similarly an athlete with say PBs of 50 and 1.52, wanting to break 1.52, would based on the 47% need to look at 52.5 for the first lap. I'd again argue that is too close to top pace and would be ugly over the concluding stages.

Pretty much all 800 athletes are de-accelerating over the concluding stages, but for mine the best way of PBing or winning is about holding your form and pace better than others. Looking at Rushida, he is the best because he does that better than anyone else.

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MOB wrote:I'm not so sure about the 47% theory - may well work for 400 / 800 athletes but for 800 specialists or 800 / 1500 athletes, this seems dangerously fast early.

Using my mediocre PBs from many decades ago as an example - as a 1.59 800 athlete, in order to equal or beat that based on the 47% plan, I'd have to run low 56 for the first lap. That would be way too close to my 400 PB of 54. In fact the couple of times I did go through in sub 57, I went major lactic over the last 200 and blew out completely. The only way I could break 2.00 was to run between 58 and 59 for the first lap. Anything else was too close to 400 pace.

Similarly an athlete with say PBs of 50 and 1.52, wanting to break 1.52, would based on the 47% need to look at 52.5 for the first lap. I'd again argue that is too close to top pace and would be ugly over the concluding stages.

Pretty much all 800 athletes are de-accelerating over the concluding stages, but for mine the best way of PBing or winning is about holding your form and pace better than others. Looking at Rushida, he is the best because he does that better than anyone else.

Fair point MOB. I think Rudisha has recorded a mid 45sec 400m, but hasnt raced many of them either, so probably could run faster again.

I guess the 47% idea is purely an attempt of 'evidence based research' trying to work out a way to 'crack the 1.40 barrier'. These researchers have probably been looking at these 2 minute events for so long now, it would be good to get the whole article or whatever they have currently published and see if they have used the formula for other previous 800m WR's or even the other disciplines. Doesn't sound so far fetched for a guy like Rudisha to attempt a sub 48 first lap.

800 WR

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Too bad Rudisha hasn't figured out how to run a fast 800 yet.


So Rudisha doesn't know how to run an 800 yet?
Big call when he's the world record holder.
Could be that Rudisha has found the best way to run an 800 and the rest of the world has to catch up? Laughing

Ribera

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Great discussion.
I have always regarded the perfect pace for a 400/800 type runner to be about 1 second slower each 200m and around 4-5 secs off pb 400 pace for first lap. For an 800/1500 runner it is about ½ sec slower each 200m.

After watching Rudisha's world record for 800m 1.41.09 and he ran the perfect splits for a 400/800 runner with a similar ratio. He ran roughly;
24
25
25.5
26.5

For MOB as a 800/1500 1.59 runner it would be;
29
29.5
30
30.5

For a female it is about 5-6 secs off 400 pb pace for 1st lap. Based on this with Tamsyns 400 at around 52 secs it is possible for her to go through in 57 and come home in 61 and give that Aussie record a shake;
28
29
30
31

Admin

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Here's a very well researched comment from 'pelle3' in response to the original article on the Peak Performance website.

pelle3 says:
July 27, 2011

"eh? This "Too bad Rudisha hasn't figured out how to run a fast 800 yet." is a load of rubbish. I'm since retired, but I will revisit this subject to provide greater clarity on how illogical this line of thought is:

Four men — Rudisha, Kipketer, Coe and Cruz have broken 1'42 in the 800.

Please compare the following splits below:

Kipketer's WR splits were as follows:

1.41,11 – 23,8, 25,5 [49,3], 25,3 [1.14,6], 26,5 – [49,3/51,8]
1.41,24 – 23,0, 25,3 [48,3], 26,2 [1.14,5], 26,7 – [48,3/52,9]
1.41,73 – 24,0, 25,6 [49,6], 26,7 [1.16,3], 25,4 – [49,6/52,1]

Coe's 1.41,73 WR splits:

1:41.73 – 24,6, 25,3 [49,9], 25,1 [1.15,0], 26,7 – [49,9/51,8]

Cruz's 1.41,77 splits:

1.41,77 – 23,8 – 25,8 [49,6] – 26,2 [1.15,8] – 25,9 [49,6/52,1]

You'd be best served to note that nearly each of the sub-1'42 performances included a 52-second 2nd lap. Coe, who had the best endurance of the group (3.47 mile), did not attempt a break-neck pace the first 400m, and still "only" crawled home in 51,8 his 2nd lap.

Rather than focusing on the 1st and 2nd lap splits, take a look at the two 200m splits from 200m to 600m to see if the athletes are optimizing their splits in the middle of the race – a more telling story of how well they utilized their endurance over the ensuring lactate built up following a fast first 200m.

In doing so, you'll find the following:

Kipketer's two middle 200m splits of the four he ran in his 1.41,11 equaled a 400m of 50,8 (1.41,6 pace); the two he ran in his 1.41,24 equaled a 400m of 51,5 (1.43,0 pace); his 1.41,73 had an aggregate of 52,3 (1.44,6 pace).

Coe's 1.41,73 had an aggregate over this same distance (200m to 600m) of 50,6 (1.41,2 pace).

Cruz's 1.41,77 aggregated 52,1 (1.44,2 pace).

In the 2007 and 2008 World Championships and Olympics, respectively, clearly, the women 800m runners who were able to push 200m-600m fared the best vs those who went out hard for 200m, sat back 400m and attempted to kick the final 200m.

The faster Kipketer ran from 200m to 600m, the faster he stopped the finishing clock. One one occasion Neither Cruz and Kipketer – two of the four sub-1.42,00 guys, attacked the middle of their races (Kipketer actually twice), easing back to earth at 1.44,2 and 1.44,6 paces, respectively following 23,8 and 23,0 opening marks. Cruz had a 2.14 (1K) and 3.53 (1.5k) the same season to back up such early pacing.

Mr. Rudisha doesn't have earth-shattering stamina to run a 47-second first lap (actually, more like 23-24), as he'd drift to a comfortable 1'14 (27 second 200m), before attempting to salvage the race with a 26-point final 200m segment. Imagine the ludicrous type of pacing that would be in slowing down 3 seconds between aggregate 200m splits from 400m to 600m and trying to bounce back on the final 200m to set a world record."

http://protrack.easyforumlive.com

youngy

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I remember reading similar discussions on the 800m on the 'Science of Sport' website some time ago.

The whole article can be accessed here.
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Below is the extract relating to split times. This was written in September 2007 - before Rudisha emerged to break the world record. Wilson Kipketer held the WR (1-41.11 in Cologne, Germany on 24/8/07) at the time this article was written.


800m – it’s not possible to run optimal times with a faster second lap

The 800m distance is a fascinating one, and well worth discussing further, because it straddles the divide between what people usually refer to as “sprinting” and “middle distance” running. To some, it is the first of the middle distance events, whereas to others, it’s the last of the sprints. Of course, using such jargon can pose challenges, but generally, when people refer to a sprint, they refer to an event where the athlete goes ‘flat out’. This is of course never true, because even in a 200m race, there is some pacing, as evidenced by people who go out a little too fast and end up faltering in the final 40 to 50m!

However, the fact remains that the 800m is a unique distance, requiring a combination of sprint ability and endurance ability. Coaches (and physiologists) have often spoken of an aerobic-anaerobic divide for different events, and they often refer to the 800m distance as being a 50% split for each. That is, they say that approximately 50% of the energy comes from aerobic sources, 50% from anaerobic. This is a contentious issue in itself, one that I would argue with, as recent evidence suggests there is no black and white split between the energy sources, as is often put. But anyway, that’s another story altogether, back to the 800m event.


In the 800m event, 26 world records have been set. The top graph below shows the average lap times in these 26 races. It’s immediately clear that the second half is quite a lot slower than the first. Some of you may be thinking, hang on a moment, what about the 200m splits? Unfortunately, they are not available for the 26 world records, but in the ones they are available, they follow the same pattern – the first 200m is fastest, followed by the second, and the pace gets slower and slower.

So this is a departure from what we’ve seen before – suddenly, speeding up at the end doesn’t happen. In fact, in the 26 world records, the second lap has only been faster than the first on two occasions. Therefore, a world record seems to require that you run a fast first lap, and then hang on in the second, but speeding up does not appear to be an option.

Some of you may now be questioning this statement. Among the biggest challenges would be the assumption that you’re seeing ‘optimal performances’. And of course, this is true. If a guy goes out and run 1:46, who is to say that is not optimal? Perhaps it is. However, I still maintain that with this pacing strategy observed in 24 out of 26 world records, the best way to run the race is to run the first lap faster than the second. On average, the difference is 2 seconds. This means a first lap of 50 seconds would be followed by a second lap of 52 seconds.

What is even more interesting is that the two fastest second lap times ever achieved in 800m world record performances were run in 1972 and 1966 respectively.

The graph below shows the lap times from all the world records, and if you look at the panel on the right, you will see that the second lap time of a world record performance has not improved in 35 years, since Dave Wottle broke the world record with a time of 1:44.3 (min:s) and a second lap of 51.40 seconds in 1972. The current world record holder, Wilson Kipketer, has broken the world record on three occasions, with second lap times of 52.12, 52.90 and 51.80 seconds. Therefore, a 3.2 second reduction in the world record in the 800 m event between 1966 and 1997, from 1:44.3 to 1:41.11, has been achieved by running the first lap significantly faster, rather than an improved ability to increase running speed on the second lap.

The Figure below shows the lap times for the 26 world records in the 800m event. The left panel is the first lap, the right panel is the second lap

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Another interesting fact is that even in the Olympic Games, where the first lap is often tactical and slow, is the second lap slower. The average first lap in the Olympic Games finals is 52.8 seconds and the second lap is 53.4 seconds. They slow down, even with a faster first lap! In otherwords, even if the athlete slows down and runs the first lap quite slowly, the second lap is still slower.

What this suggests is that the ability to run faster during the second lap of an 800m is limited, and so the optimal pacing strategy may consist of a faster start followed by a relatively slower second lap.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you are an 800m athlete, or you are coaching an 800m athlete, if you want that athlete to run their best, you have to plan for a second lap that is about 2 to 3 seconds slower than the first. So, if the goal is 2 minutes, it’s not good enough to aim for a first lap of 60 seconds. It has to be 58-something, because if your athlete is going maximally, then he should slow down to a 61 on the second lap, giving him a final time of 2 minutes.

Similarly, if you want to break the world record, forget about running the second lap in 51 seconds. It’s not going to happen. Therefore, you must plan for a second lap of 52 seconds, which means the first lap must be 49 seconds. This is also an indication of the sort of speed needed to challenge Kipketer’s world record – you have to be able to run a 400m in 48.5 seconds as part of an 800m race. Your basic 400m speed therefore needs to be down in the 45’s, maybe 46 seconds (but that starts cutting it fine).


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