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Starting Track 3200m

by Andrew
(NC, US)

I'm 15 years old, and have been running for about 6-7 years. Of course nothing seriously competitive until I entered high school, and am now in 10th grade and am having a great cross country season as it starts to wind down.

My most recent time was 18:16 for the 5KM, and I've been steadily dropping about 30 seconds each race all season.

I've decided I'll run track, something I opted not to do last year because I do other sports.

My main goal in track is so I can gain alot of the speed I need for cross country, but I figured I should set a goal for the event I'll most likely do, the 3200m.

The regional qualifying for the 2a championships is around 10:45, and I'm hoping to get there. Because of how fast I've been improving, I don't really have any times for current mile, 2 mile, and 800m. I know I always run positive mile splits for a 5K, trying to run even/negative never worked out.

Any tips to make my goal of 10:45 starting now, by May?

Answer by Dominique:
Hi there,
Thanks for your 3,200 m question.
I think your training plan should be decided on together with your coach. I can give you some general guidelines, but given your age that's all I will do.

I can't give you some detailed training plan, then get you injured and then have your parents sue me!

By the way, if you go to my Race Conversion Calculator you can work out that a 18:16 5k would be equal to a 3.2km in 11:22. Another 30 secs of that and you are there!

3,200 metre and 5k races are so challenging because you need to combine two elements: stamina and speed. Whereas a 10k is more a prolonged uncomfortable effort I find the shorter races usually downright painful. Probably the reason why I like the half marathon so much, for most of the race I usually feel pretty good!

So, how do you build stamina?
Through easy running, and long runs. Have a look at my base running page to understand what base running is and why it is important.

So, how do you build speed?
This is where tempo running and intervals come in. These types of running training sessions will help you to get faster.

Your Positive Splits
Not being able to run even splits has got a lot to do with discipline (teaching yourself to not go out too fast), and stamina. You will probably have quite a few races to practice. So, don't say you can't do it. Just try to instill that discipline in yourself and work on running even splits.

They say that in the marathon each minute you run too fast in the beginning, costs you five in the end. Over 3200m and 5k the effects are not going to be that dramatic, but when it becomes a "seconds-game" you are going to kick yourself when you run a 10:48 3200m because you did not have the final kick anymore in the last 200m.

A book I can really recommend, a book I use all the time and I would advice you to get is Daniels' Running Formula.

It contains a lot of the basic running training information, why the different paces are useful, but also provides you with templates to build your own 3,200 metre running training plan.

So, read the information on some of the running training website pages above, get that book and talk to your coach and I am sure you will be able to improve your running times even further.

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Best of luck.
Kind regards,

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