By Dr. Jack Daniels
800m Race Strategy
A great way is to run the first 200m conservatively, followed by running an almost all-out 400m (from the 200m to the 600m) and then finish with what is left. Many 800m runners go out too fast and when they reach the 400m they think “I am hurting and only half way,” and that ruins the rest of the race). If they concentrate on a fast 400m, from 200m to 600m, they fly right by the 400m not worrying about being only half way; they now are thinking about getting to the 600m and the final 200m is usually not so mentally stressful.
1500m/Mile Race Strategy
Most younger (and even many older) runners go out too fast the first 400m of a 1500m or mile, followed by a rather major slowing down over the second 400m. Interestingly, most runners run the 3rd 400m about equal to the second 400m (both of which are rather slow compared to the first 400), and then try to finish with a faster final 400m (or final 200m).
To maintain a better overall pace, try to run the first 400m at the pace that, if evenly paced, would be a second or two slower than your current best mile pace. Then, make a concerted effort for the second 400m to be 2 or 3 seconds faster than was the first 400m. Interestingly, the third 400m still tends to duplicate the second 400m, so you have had two good 400s after a reasonable first 400m, rather than a couple poor 400s after a too-fast first 400m. Now there is just 400m to go, and you just do what you can with that one.
Obviously, wind conditions and competitors can mess with the ideal approach as it now becomes a tactical situation and, especially on a windy day, you pretty much have to sit on the leaders, even if it seems a little too fast at the start. Remember that the leaders are really hurting if they take it out fast into the wind, so you have to sometimes sacrifice a more-casual start to put yourself in a good position.