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Track and Field – Distance
Layne Anderson – University of Iowa

At the completion of the cross country season we take a week off from running to recharge the battery and clear up any aches or pains. I may even extend the break a few more days if necessary or put someone in the pool as they transition back to the next build up phase. At Iowa we divide our distance group into two groups for the track season. A middle distance group comprised of 800m runners and milers follows a set training program, while a distance group comprised of 3k, 5k, and 10k runners follows a different regimen. The difference between the two groups is the structure to the workouts. With eight full weeks from the start of the build up phase to the first indoor meet I find that we need not rush into anything. We can really take our time and build the mileage back up before beginning the track specific strength phase of the program.

In track I prefer to utilize a progression with the intensity of the work and it is not until we get to the beginning of the indoor season that I really start to lower pace of the intervals or increase the intensity of the strength work. Racing again provides a sharpening component to our weekly workload and I once again prefer to race every other week.

I may race a middle distance runner in successive weeks, however, it is typically early season when I am racing them at a distance that is not their primary race.

For the 3k, 5k, 10k runners I will often times run them at the mile distance early and add a fartlek session to their workout immediately after the race.

Below I have outlined a typical week for the two programs so you can see the difference. The major difference is the mid distance will workout hard on successive days with a strength workout on Mon and a speed session on Tue. The middle distance program is divided into a strength phase, a speed-endurance phase, and a speed phase. The phases overlap so that you are at times incorporating two phases into one segment of the season. I like to work on turnover when the legs are fatigued. The emphasis of the speed-endurance session is to focus on lactate tolerance and leg turnover when fatigued.

Success in racing is often determined by what happens over the last 400m of a race. An example of this would be to run 500m at race pace, jog 100m, and follow up with a quick 200m. This workout is done in sets with @ 6 minutes rest.

The one thing that I never fear as a coach is cutting a workout short. I am always looking for ways to build confidence. An athlete who is confident stands a greater chance of running a PR than one who is beaten down physically and emotionally.


800m, 1500m (Miler)
Sunday: Long Run + Circuits
Monday: A.M. Run + Strength Workout (Ladder or Bulk Set of Intervals)
Tuesday: 30 min Run + Speed Session (Progressive through the season)
Wednesday: Recovery Run (very relaxed) + Circuits
Thurday: A.M. Run + Modified Workout (race week), Recovery Run + Strides (non race week)
Friday: A.M. Run + Full Workout (non race week) Meet Warm-up (race week)
Saturday: Race or Recovery Run 3k (steeple), 5k, 10k
Sunday: Long Run + Circuits
Monday: A.M. Run + Recovery Run + Strides
Tuesday: A.M. Run + Workout
Wednesday: Recovery Run + Circuits
Thursday: A.M. Run + Workout (race week) Recovery Run + Strides (non race week)
Friday: A.M. Run + Workout (non race week) Meet Warm-up (race week)
Saturday: Race or Recovery Run

Keys To Training

Follow a daily plan that entails everything that the word consistency means:

  • Run every day around the same time to gain “consistency” when possible. Stay out of the heat when you run.
  • Eat 3-4 meals/day. Emphasize a well-balanced nutritional diet.
  • Follow a proper warm-up and warm-down routine.
  • Follow a long run or workout with a relaxed recovery run.
  • Hydrate-Hydrate-Hydrate throughout the day. Develop a consistent fluid intake. Carry water bottles and get in the habit of hydrating.
  • Stay “consistent” with the training program.
  • Build into each season both physically and emotionally

Other Training Thoughts


Circuit weight training with an emphasis on core strength and muscle endurance.


Sprint mechanic drills will aid in modifying running technique.


Rest is an investment in future performance.
Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to take a day off.


  • Utilize the pool or elliptical to reduce aches or pains.


  • Complete the stretching circuit everyday.


  • Do not neglect wear and tear on your shoes.
  • Have more than one pair and rotate every couple of days.


  • Be consistent with this on a daily basis.
  • Eat a well balanced diet with three full meals and snacks per day.
  • This aspect is essential to success.
  • There are no shortcuts through your diet.


  • After all runs remember to hydrate immediately and eat within 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Your body must have food and fluid to rebuild.


  • This is where the body rebuilds what exercise has torn down.
  • Eight to ten hours per day is ideal.
  • Establish a consistent sleep pattern.


  • Think about what you would like to accomplish academically and athletically.
  • Success is a journey not a destination.