District Track’s Tom Brumlik on How to Train for the 800m

The District Track Club is an elite running group in Washington, DC. And coach Tom Brumlik is here to help demystify 800m training.

District Track Club

The 800-meter distance is a magical race: it’s a terrifying journey into the heart of middle distance running.

Us distance runners are used to metering out our effort, cautiously sipping fuel to conserve energy, and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

We’re creatures of patience, willing to grind for miles and execute a well-planned pacing strategy over the course of a race.

But none of that happens in the 800m.

In the half mile – possibly the “perfect” middle distance event – caution and patience are liabilities. Sipping fuel would be competitive suicide; blasting the after-burners is the only way to race it.

And such a fast, aggressive race demands training that’s very different from what distance runners are used to.

In fact, 800m training looks like a blend of sprint and distance work: long runs and speed training, traditional track workouts with more strides, drills, and top-end speed reps.

During my track days, I certainly didn’t do any 800m training. But I raced a lot of 800’s in a few situations:

  • As a second race during a track meet (the 1500m / 800m double is particularly taxing)
  • At the end of a season if you haven’t qualified for the championship meets
  • During a 4x800m relay (putting four distance runners in a relay and watching them struggle with a mid-distance race is especially hilarious)

And while I’m firmly a distance runner (and distance coach), I love the 800m race. It’s a beautiful expression of speed.

So I brought a middle-distance coach on the podcast to discuss this distance, 800m training, and how adult runners can get started with shorter, faster races.

Please welcome Tom Brumlik to the Strength Running Podcast (this is an excerpt from Team Strength Running).

Tom Brumlik on 800m Training

Tom is an 800m specialist coach for the District Track Club in Washington, DC. He used to hold the General Manager role as well but is now working exclusively in a coaching capacity.

The DTC was started (and is still directed) by Matt Centrowitz, Sr. (father to Olympic Gold Medalist Matt Centrowitz) and features a range of elite middle distance runners.

Tom is on the podcast today to discuss how an elite running club like the DTC works (its funding, how it recruits members, and its origin) and the intricacies of 800m training.

He’ll be answering questions like:

  • What kind of mileage levels do 800m runners run?
  • How long do these mid-distance runners go for their long runs?
  • What speed development workouts are required for 800m training?
  • Do runners from sprint or endurance backgrounds fair better in the 800?

We also discuss how to find all-comers track meets (there needs to be more of these!) so you can test yourself at the 800m distance.

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Thank you, Tom! Learning about different events is instructive and can help distance runners break out of a rut or performance plateau.

I hope all of us can experiment with some middle-distance training and racing at some point in our running careers!

This interview is an excerpt from the full conversation available to Team Strength Running members.

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