You need to run 600 yards to run a mile

1,800 feet of hell

As far back as elementary school, I’ve struggled with running fast paces over long distances. I really did try. In fifth grade, I ran the 50 yard dash for the track team and even placed first in my town for the standing broad jump (still the apex of my athletic career). These events were part of the Presidential Physical Fitness test that every kid had to take to pass gym class. Running 150 feet and jumping six feet was relatively easy. It was the 600-yard timed run around the field that haunted me all the way through high school.

I wasn’t alone. We all dreaded the “Six Hundred”, a seemingly endless distance. Now that I have some perspective, I realize that 600 yards is a mere third of a mile. One and a half quarter repeats! I actually remember my high school time (2:12, the temperature of boiling water : ) that put me right in the middle of the pack. What was regarded then as a mediocre time actually calculates to a 6:27 pace. If only I had more perspective back in those days. At the time, all I could think about was the painful burning in my throat and the relief that it was finally over.

A recent suggestion by my running and blogging buddy She Is Out Running brought back memories of the Six Hundred. SIOR proposed that she, TPP and I do a timed mile run. I thought that was a great idea. I’ve come to terms with my race times slipping over the past few years, but I’m still achieving credible times when I do repeats. A mile distance is a great way to see how far I can push my anaerobic capabilities.

Intervals (for most of us) are a combination of short but intense bursts of speed, followed by a similarly short jog or rest. The biggest challenge of running a flat-out mile will be to sustain that intensity for a much longer period. I can go full speed for 200 meters and maintain a 180 SPM cadence through a full quarter. After that I begin to fade. Maybe that was why running the 600 as a sprint was always so difficult.

The fastest mile I can remember running was a 7:51 at Long Beach that led to my 10K PR. I’d started at the front with all the hollow-eyed ectomorphs who took off at the gun like whippets. I was passed by a lot of people and thought I was having an off day. When I saw the Mile 1 timing clock, I realized those speedsters were running six and seven minute miles. So that’s why people use pacers!

Maybe speedsters SIOR or TPP can do a pace lap for me when I do my timed mile. I’d return the favor, but I fear my 6:27 days are far behind me.

15 thoughts on “You need to run 600 yards to run a mile

  1. You must have gone to an elementary school with mean but hyper-articulate kids.The 25th sounds muy bueno. Let's hope there's no snow. 40 degree temps would also be nice. Do you think that track will be available/accessible on a Sunday morning?

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  2. Anonymous

    I did some a lot of 800s this past Fall, but those were with 400 recoveries. You're probably right. But I think I'd want to try two 1/2 miles at goal pace with a short recovery in between to see if goal pace is reasonable.Next, we have to get ER to start training for a beer mile. I've wanted to try it for fun and of curiosity, but afraid I'll get arrested at the high school track

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  3. Anonymous

    Nothing better than an ice cold beer after a run. When I get back from my Sunday long runs in the summer, I throw a couple of \”recovery beers\” into the pool from the deck and head right down for a swim in my running shorts. Running and drinking at the same time? Not sure, but I'm willing to try.

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