Help Me Train for a 300 Meter and 1.5 Mile Run
November 6, 2007 2:51 PM   Subscribe

What is the best training plan to improve my performance in a 300 meter and 1.5 mile run in 6 weeks?

I am applying for a job that requires me to take a physical fitness test in about 6 weeks, which includes a 300 meter and 1.5 mile run. I am a 32 year-old male, 6 feet tall, 185 lbs. and I am fairly muscular, but mostly in my upper body. I don't have any formal background in running, but I usually jog about 4 miles once a week. I tried the 300 meter run this past weekend and was very discouraged with my time of about 50 seconds. I need to shave about 4 seconds off that time. I think my form is a large part of the problem. My wife was watching me and said that I looked too stiff and upright while running. Also, my forearms, around my elbows, were really sore right afterwards. Anyway, bottom line, is it realistic to expect that I can decrease my time by 4 seconds in 6 weeks? What is the best training plan for this? Should I do squats, lunges? Will a 10 lb. drop in my weight make much of a difference (this should be doable if I stop lifting upper body)? Should I be eating anything in particular? I've look at instructional videos online, but is there a better way to improve my form?
posted by metawabbit to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Without actually seeing you run, this is a hard one. I know many guys (especially ones with upper body mass) that do not have a good arm stride. Next time you run, pay attention to how you swing your arms. If you keep them flexed and have a short swing (I might liken them to the steam levers on an old school locomotive) then you have an issue.

Often a better arm swing can increase your leg turnover rate (which will also make you faster). I good swing should go down near your pocket and get up as high as your chin (plus or minus, depending on your biometrics). An exercise to try would be to purposefully both swing your arms
more frequently than you normally would, and with more amplitude. Try that and see how it feels.

Regarding your legs: if you feel that you are running too upright, then you probably are. Leaning forward gives you a few advantages. First, it forces a bend in your knee and that allows you to engage your quads more (strong muscle to waste imo) second it can help your wind resistance profile get a little smaller. An exercise to promote this is running hills (steep ones, preferably with grass or something soft to save your knees). Short, and incredibly steep hill running gets your knees up high, gets you leaning forward, and gets you pumping with your arms (all good things).

In general, and after you have your form issues worked out (if you had any to start with) you should try "intervals". Googling "interval training" should give you an idea what I am talking about. Fortunately, short hill climbs are basically intervals to begin with. If you get tired of hills, do intervals on a flat surface.

Best of luck, you can do it!
posted by milqman at 3:25 PM on November 6, 2007

If you're comfortable with the 1.5 mi distance, and it sounds like you are, then I'd prescribe 400m repeats.

On a standard track jog until you're warmed up, then go hard for a lap, then go easy for a lap. Repeat.

The first three are cake. Sticking with the plan after that is very hard for me, so I usually only do this with a partner who's faster than I am. Otherwise, I'll plan to do 10x400 but I'll quit at 6. Or 4.

I wouldn't bother with trying to lose any weight in a 6-week period. Weight loss is best when approached from a long-term perspective.

Do repeats twice a week with a 4-5 mile s-l-o-w run thrown in there, and you'll be about as fast as you can be in 6 weeks. Keep it up for a year and you'll be a short-course animal.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 3:49 PM on November 6, 2007

You need to do some speed work, as others have suggested.

10x400 with one-hard, one-slow will work, as will one superhard workout that basically involves doing 4x400 as hard as possible with 2-3 minutes rest in between each. Of course you need to thoroughly warm up beforehand.

With respect to your form: relax your upper body, relax your arms. If your arms are sore after running, you're clenching them, wasting energy, interrupting the fluidity of your stride--this is slowing you down. Your arms should be loose, and you should use them to drive you forward (don't swing them across your body. Use, them, but do not flex them while you do so. Keep your torso upright, your head forward, and lengthen your stride.
posted by kosem at 4:25 PM on November 6, 2007

The biggest thing my running partner said to me that helped me improve my form was to keep my elbows tucked in (not "wing" them out) and to run with my hips forward (think "thrusting" your pelvis).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:25 PM on November 6, 2007

As mentioned above intervals are the magic word.

If you don't have a track, here's what I suggest. Run all out for 2 minutes and jog for 2 minutes, repeat 8 to 10 times. If you have a watch with a repeating timer, this is what it's made for. Do this on Mondays and Thursdays. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, take a long run. If you're running 4 miles once a week now, 4 miles is OK for your long run, just make sure you go slower than you go now. Going slower is really important for recovery.

Each week, you can make things just a little harder. Run 10% longer. If you did 8 intervals the last two weeks, do nine the next two. If I don't run my intervals on a track, I try to run somewhere where I can still gauge how far each interval was. I might run around the block trying to go a little farther per 2 minutes each week.

300m in 46 seconds is pretty darn fast for your long distance runners, so get to work on intervals and don't go looking for 5k plans.
posted by advicepig at 6:41 PM on November 6, 2007

For intervals, I would go a shorter time than 2 minutes between. That can be too long. You want to keep at a high intensity the entire time- it's the whole point. With the 400 meter dashes, I'd go more in line with a 100m or 30-45 sec cooldown (very slow jog- no not walk). When I was actively running, it's what all the teams did.
posted by jmd82 at 8:30 PM on November 6, 2007

Running fast will improve your form all by itself. I wouldn't try to monkey with it in such a short period. Speedwork will be all the efficiency work you need.

You should have no trouble dropping four seconds from your 300 meter time in six weeks.
posted by OmieWise at 7:17 AM on November 7, 2007

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