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Or the 3000, it’s the same difference (3200 in high school/3000 in college).  This was the event that I found the least success in during my days at St. John’s.  I felt that I raced better in the 800-1600 and even in the 5k-10k than I did in the 3k….why was that?  I had the speed to run 1:56 and 4:19 in the 800 and 1600.  I ran a 15:33 and 33:33 5k/10k (not that any of these performances were winning me any titles – these are very average times at best on the collegiate level).  However, I could not break 9-minutes in the 3k.  My theory is that, if you have good speed, you can compete in the 800 and the mile.  The 5k and 10k are endurance events that are much easier to train for and improve in than the shorter distance events are.  So the 3000/3200 event….that is the true middle-distance event.  It gets categorized in the long distance bracket in track and field.  Mainly because it’s the longest event that high schoolers compete in.  But when the opening mile is 4:40 or so and then you are challenged to repeat that effort – you quickly realize that this event feels more like you are racing the mile more than it feels like you are racing a 5k. 

I can recall one 3000-meter race performance that I can honestly say I was proud of.  My junior year at St. John’s we had our winter track season opener at Fordham University.  I had already competed and got annihilated in the 1-mile and was now just annoyed and looking to redeem myself.  I got up to run my second event of the evening – the 3000.  My goal was simply to win.  I did not care what time I was going to have to run to accomplish this.  Also in the race was 8 Fordham runners who were just coming off a cross country season of kicking my butt.  I told myself I was just going to hang on them and run with them for as long as I can and see what happens.  So I allowed them to dictate the pace and I just went for the ride for the first mile of this race.  With 7 laps remaining, I began to put myself in front of 1 of the Fordham guys at the start of each lap remaining.  With 6 laps to go they had 6 in front of me, 5 laps to go 5 in front of me, 4 laps to go 4 in front of me and so on.  I recall not only were my teammates and coaches cheering me on, but other teams were starting to encourage me.  It was a pretty cool experience being the underdog in this race and very motivating.  So I continued my efforts and passed 1 guy per lap until the final lap (last 200 meters) where I just kicked.  I won the race and ran my personal best of 9:06.  I would go on to run more 3ks on better tracks such as the banked track at the armory and at bigger invitationals, but I could never repeat the performance that I did at Fordham that day.

Below, you will find workouts that I recommend to get ready for this event.  But in terms of a strategy, don’t think, just run.  Like the 800 and the 1600, the same principles apply: Get to the next checkpoint. Establish a good position early in the race – meaning get on the inside of lane 1 and don’t worry if you are boxed in, because that tight pack will not remain that way when you need to worry about picking up the pace.  It will string itself out.  Just focus on breathing and form and go for the ride.  When you have a mile remaining – refer to my 1-mile race strategy.  When you have a half-mile remaining – refer to my 800 meter strategy.  These middle-distance events are all the same idea – get to the final 300 then go for it.  I hate watching athletes that I coach take the lead too early only to forfeit it later, then reclaim the lead, then give it up again….why do that!?  You’re racing the 2-mile? Fine, stay relaxed and hang in there.  Oh you have a mile remaining? Good, now wake up and refocus, run the way you would race a mile.  Great now there’s 800-meters remaining? Wake yourself up again and start shifting gears – keep talking to yourself throughout your race so to avoid falling asleep.   This method helps concentrate on smaller objectives as opposed to approaching the event as one long objective.  Don’t tell yourself that you are running a 2-mile….tell yourself that you are running 1-mile, then you are running a half-mile, then you are running a quarter mile, break it down into baby steps.  Have a plan to shift gears at certain points in the race and stick to your plan. 


Below is a sample weekly plan that I give my athletes that focus more so on the 2-mile than they do the 800 or 1-mile:

  • Monday – Repeats such as 3x1200 or 5x1000 with 200-400-meter recovery after each

  • Tuesday – 1-hour recovery run

  • Wednesday – Speed work – 6-8 x 200 or 5 x 300 with about 200-meter recovery between each (but up to 3:00 of recovery – I don’t rush recovery during a speed workout)

  • Thursday – 45-minute recovery run

  • Friday – 30-minute recovery run

  • Saturday – Race simulation workout – I tend to get creative on these types of workouts.  I try to have my team “find the race” within their workout.  I’ll start them with a long interval like a 1200 up to a mile at 2-mile race pace.  Then I’ll give them around 5-8-minutes of recovery and have them do fast 200s or 400s (i.e. 4x200 or 2x400) and then I’ll finish the workout with another long interval ranging anywhere from a 1000- 1-mile again at 2-mile race pace.

  • Sunday – off or active recovery (cardio other than running for about 20-30 minutes)

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