Middle Distance Runner, Isaiah Harris, Tips For Speed
Sprinters are sometimes flashier, while marathon runners can be known as braver, but when it comes to describing middle-distance runners, a quietly confident combination of flash and courage is what it takes to excel. .
The 400 and 800 meters are sometimes overlooked components of running conditioning in people’s programs, but could be very beneficial in a variety of ways. While marathon training requires a lot of endurance and sprinting uses a lot of anaerobic force, running these medium distances requires a combination of strength and endurance.
Team USA member Isaiah Harris in the men’s 800m after finishing fourth at the Olympic trials last year. In March, Harris finished seventh at the World Indoor Championships, missing out on a medal by half a second.
Not only does a middle distance racer have to run at a sprint pace, they have to maintain it over multiple laps, which requires supreme conditioning.
“I might be biased, but some of the things middle-distance runners have to do are fun,” Harris says. “For me, longer races get a bit boring and monotonous, so you have to change. I love being on the track and being able to do something a little faster.
Now an active member of the Brooks Beasts, Isaiah Harris explains how middle-distance running is a running-related activity that anyone, at any level, can incorporate into their own fitness routine for an added layer of strength and conditioning.
A combination of fast sprints and long distances
I would say middle-distance runners fall somewhere between sprinters and marathon runners, and we’re all different types. Some are more equipped for distance and others for speed, so you need to train like a sprinter on some days and like a distance runner on others. The 800 is one of those fun events where there are multiple ways to train.
I’m right in the middle because I have enough speed – I raced 4×400 at Penn State University – and also broke the four minute mark last year which I am quite proud. So I have some strength and aerobic fitness for my game.
Isaiah Harris’ mid-distance running workout for beginners
A workout I used to do on the track was 10 runs of 300 meters, which is tough, but can still be modified for anyone. It’s also a way to stay in shape because your heart rate will skyrocket since you’re going faster, but it’s fun.
The good thing about middle-distance running is that you can rest a little longer between each interval. We took between 90 seconds and two minutes of rest between sprints. And if you’re doing 10, break it down into two separate sets of five, take about five to eight minutes of rest in between, then go back to finishing the rest.
You could even do 200 meter reps in the same style. Maybe once or twice a week, and supplement it on those days with longer runs.
Expect it to hurt
A misconception about the 400 or 800 meters is that people expect us as professional runners to be able to do this stuff without getting tired. It’s not – the race is always running, every time. I like to think that you get better at managing pain when you get fitter and more used to running.
For example, a recent temporary run was three miles, my coach wanted us to average 5:20 or faster. We finished that we took six minutes of rest, then we did a 228-second pace, so we could raise our heart rate higher than during the tempo run, but without pushing it too hard.
My last acting race, I was in pain. But again, it just becomes a mental game. And it’s 50-50 physical and mental so you have to be strong mentally. As you go up in distance, like you see marathon runners, I would even say it could be 60% mental, 40% physical at that level. Again, the more you run, the easier it will feel as you get fitter, but you’ll never feel pain free.
Hit the wall as a middle distance runner
The last quarter of an 800 meter race is the decisive point of the race. Everyone’s in it then, so 600 meters is when you have to muster enough strength and mental courage to find another gear and reach the finish line. You could ask any 800 meter runner, and they’ll tell you that 600 meters is when it starts to hurt. Sometimes you just close your eyes and focus on doing whatever you can to get to the finish line.
You definitely have to pace yourself and those first 400-600m, but it’s not like you relax and feel great – you still have to push to get to that point. In practice, this is where you hit that punch line against the wall. You don’t want to do this too often, as it can lead to injury. But there are definitely days when we go to the pits and it just simulates that running effort, although sometimes it’s hard to do that in training. There is nothing quite like going out and running and I think a lot of people run to get in shape.
Isaiah Harris puts on weight for more speed
We lift twice a week, the same days we get on the track. Thus, on Tuesdays and Fridays, it is always immediately after the end of a workout. So for middle-distance running, we’re never really going full throttle or, you know, weighing heavy – that’s really the focus on speed in everything we do. Speed and form really the two most important things I would say or right or why we use the weight room is one to increase those fast twitch muscle fibers and then to just strengthen those muscles that will help you stay fit health.
Isaiah Harris’ Recovery Routine
If you don’t recover well, you won’t be able to hit hard the next day and you want to be able to have a quality day. I like to receive frequent massages. We have a team sports coach, who is at every practice before and after, who if you need anything, she is there. So when I’m really in pain, I like to do some soft tissue work on her part, do some mobility with her and some stretching, some cupping. And then throughout the day I will be using the NormaTec boots, these are crucial. I even like Epsom salt baths, foam rolling and using the massage gun.
But every day is not the same. If I feel very bad and could spend a little more time, I would say immediately after training probably a stretching role for at least 30 minutes. And then usually at some point in the night, if I take an Epsom salt bath, it’s 20-30 minutes, and then I probably ride another half hour after that as well.
Isaiah Harris’ advice for finding the right shoes
Every athlete is different and everyone needs a different shoe. I’m pretty basic – I like neutral shoes, so Brooks Ghosts and Glycerins are my two favorite training shoes. I tend to choose the Glycerine more because it’s a bit more comfortable and has more cushioning which I need because I’m a bigger runner – I’m 180 pounds. So doing those longer runs can beat my body and I really like having that extra cushion, it kind of helps keep my feet and legs in shape.
I know a lot more people who pay attention to heel drop and stuff like that. But to be honest, I go to the felt. I don’t think I have a picky foot, if that’s even a term.