It Begins: The Longest Mile

An Average Runner’s Journey to Become a Middle Distance Runner…

So I’ve decided to try and become a middle distance runner. After years of running below my potential I finally want to see what this body of mine can do. I’m a very average club runner. I’ve run everything from 5k to marathons and I’m not ashamed to say I bloody love it! I love my training, but to say I take it seriously would be generous. A thought occurred to me while race directing the Running the Rift Marathon last month – while watching elite runners push their bodies to their limits. The thought that I may never truly know what my limits are.

Why Middle Distance?

The 800m and 1500m events are some of the most entertaining distances to watch. We all know names like Coe, Ovett, Holmes and El Guerrouj. But so many of us never even think about smashing some shorter races. Why not? The marathon has captured recreational runners’ imagination, and for good reason. But is that to say that, at a high level, the marathon is any harder than a middle distance event? In competition or training? I want a new challenge. Rather than ask myself how far I can run, I want to know how fast I can run.

Over the next year, I will take on the training of a middle distance runner and see if I can become competitive. 800m, 1500m, the mile (1609m) and 3000m will be my target distances. What does that mean in terms of times targets? I don’t know yet. I will consult coaches ad athletes over the coming weeks to help build some targets. I’m pretty sure the mile world record is safe for now! If I can promote middle distance running along the way, that would be pretty awesome too!

Day 1 – Mile Time Trial

Middle distance training is brutal. As are the events. Huge quantities of speed and endurance are required. As a base test, I ran a mile (1609m) on a track. Flat out. I wanted to see what I was starting this journey with. I consider myself in reasonable shape for a runner. I recently banged out an 18:34 parkrun. Not elite, but not back of the pack. I was not prepared for the savagery of the distance. Watch the video below:

That hurt. A lot! There’s a long way to go…

Next week, I will bring in some advice from a top middle distance coach as I begin the journey and start training.