Training for the mile

Here’s the situation. I have twin brothers who are 13 years old and their upcoming track season is coming up soon. Last year they did they 800m, this year they’re main event is going to be the mile. Best runs are 5:55 and 6:04. I asked them what they did last year and they told me warm-up, then run 2-3 laps and that was there entire workout. So I suggested they speak with their coach and ask him if I could set up their workouts for the season. I have six weeks to prepare them for the first meet. I have no pride (just looking to learn and adapt) and have no experience training for the mile, so please feel free to rip this apart if I’m way off base here.

Monday: Speed*
Tuesday: Tempo
Wednesday: Split Endurance
Thursday: Tempo
Friday: Speed* (or long run)
Saturday: Tempo

2x50 (full rest)
2x100 (full rest)
1x150 (full rest)
1x200 (full rest)
Bodyweight exercises

Tempo @ 70% - job between reps, walk between sets using 200-600m reps(start out at 4000-5000m and move to 7500m over the 6 week period)

Bodyweight exercises

Thursday (same as Tuesday)

3x100 (full rest)
1x150 (full rest)
Bodyweight Exercises

Saturday (same as Tuesday)

*My reasoning behind the speed days is I feel they are lacking in overall speed and that’s one thing they need to improve on if they want to see their times go down. Now, if I’m setting it up correctly, I’m not too sure.

Well that’s the first week of training and I’d obviously progress from short to long over the season. So, if it sucks, let me know and make some suggestions to improve or completely change what I’m thinking about doing. Thanks!

Try an net search under the name Frank Horwill, he is the guy that invented the “five pace” method of training for middle distance runners.

His theory is that for complete middle distance conditioning the athlete should train at race pace, faster than race pace and slower than race pace. For example a 1500m runner would train at 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, the idea being to train at race pace, 2 paces below race pace and 2 paces above race pace.

His theory states that middle distance runners should aim for a 4 second differential as the distance of the race increases e.g.

for a 2min 800m runner runs his race pace at 60s per 400m.

200m pace 52s/400m eg 26s/200m
400m pace 56s/400m
1500m at 64s/400m
3000m pace 68s/400m
5000m pace 72s/400m

Check out the following link

By the way, Seb Coe used this method!


Thanks for the post. Did a little research…its very similar to CFTS in the sense that the high/low intensity days alternate allowing for the full 48 hour CNS recovery.

Does anyone know if this book is any good?

try Coaching Cross Country Successfully by Joen Newton. Interesting concepts. Concepts are nothing new . I saw a whole table in there about the difference in speed endurance, intenstive tempo, extensive tempo etc. Plus he was my coach in high school, haha. Wait, maybe it was Running to the Top of the Mountain by joe newton, I dn’t remember. I know both were good though.

The speedwork looks appropriate for that age, you may want to run similar distances uphills on a regular basis as well.

Steady distance runs are fine on occasion as well. It is not necessary to run huge volumes of tempo. Session that total 7000 + meters with reps of 200m may become quite dull. I have had good success with combining distance and tempo. For this age group a 15-20 minute run ending with 2000-3000m of tempo might be a good compromise.

I think it is intelligent to keep speed endurance reps short even for distance athletes at this age group.

With as little work as these kids have done in the past, aerobic capacity is as big of a problem as speed. These kids most likely have the necessary top end speed and/or 400m speed to run significantly faster over the distance of the mile, more often, at this age, performance dramatically decreases as distance is increased.

i have to see about the hill work, it needs to be close to the track so the coach will let them do it. i was originally thinking about incorporating hill work for either one or both the speed days.

i’m going to play around with the speed endurance days…i need to do more research (read more books, articles, etc) so i can get more familiar with this aspect of training for middle distance runners.

ok i’ll lower the tempo volume. i’ll have at least 1 pure tempo day and the others i’ll use longer runs with tempo…what speed do you recommend the longer runs at. tempo will be at 8:30min mile pace (around 70%).

The best book for 800/1500/3000/5000/10000/Marathon training is “Daniel Running Formula”. It’s a very very good read. Ya need more fartleks, though. Especially for young guys. Fun runs, etc where, like charlie recomends for youngsters, training is a byproduct.

I’ll pick up that book.

Wouldn’t fartleks fall between 75-95% intensity? I thought thats where we don’t want to be?

you could have Fartleks incorporating the two extremes…

ok, so basically what I’ll try to do is mix it up over the six weeks to keep them interested but at the same time keep the integrity of CFTS.

if you “mix it up” -meaning having all in there at any time point- you are keeping CFTS integrity anyway :slight_smile:

if there isn’t enough time for “proper” training, i would stick more with some “speed” work and let the “event endurance” come via racing

short srpints with short recoveries between and longer between sets should work fine for such events (from Pakewi…)

of course, adjust accordingly in this aspect of training…

The book is good, its basically a simpler version of the book that is listed further down the page in the “buy at the same time offer” which is written by Coe and Martin. Martin is the physiologist that Peter Coe worked with when training his son.

Initially, I would stick with the stuff on the website I posted, its a lot more user friendly!

ccardill - Your plan is definitely a bit unorthodox for a miler with the low mileage and starting right in on anaerobic work. Which is not to say it won’t fly, but might be a better approach for 800m. I’d be concerned about whether the tempo work will give the runners enough aerobic strength. Fartleks: these won’t be faster than mile pace, so they would remain less than 75% intensity, and thus stay out of the no-benefit zone.

In regards to books, the one you pulled up on amazon is one of my favorites, and you can’t go wrong with it. It is a condensed version of the book at the bottom of the page but I think it is the essence of middle distance training, without the physiology lessons included in the other book. Daniels Running Formula is also great, and is especially targeted at high school type runners and the framework they must function in. In reference to Horwill, he didn’t coach Coe…Peter Coe coached Coe. Looking extensively at the articles on Horwill’s “serpentine” website and comparing them to Coe’s approach, I would say they are similar but more extreme, and would cause breakdown in all but the sturdiest of runners.


There are a few reasons why I set up the program like this. First, they are extremely young and I’m trying to put something together that by junior and senior year so they’ll be studs. So, I’m looking towards long-term results (obviously). Second, I feel that working on some speed now will eventually benefit them in the long run. I didn’t really see how running 400s or 600s for speed would help them considering those times wouldn’t be great either. So if I work on speed in the 50, 100 and 200m range, over the long-run they would be better off. As tempo goes, I wasn’t really sure how it would work out so that was something I was going to play around with.

Now saying all that, I really don’t know if a plan like this will work. But I don’t want people to think there was no logic behind it and I just threw something together.

I have a few weeks until their season starts so I’ll pick up a couple of the books that were recommended and get a better understanding of the middle distance runs.

I appreciate the input.