Runner’s Tribe – Caitlin Murdock, 26 – Middle distance athlete, Brisbane, QLD

Runner’s Tribe – The Workout Series

Written by Caitlin Murdock

In late 2014 after graduating from university, I decided to make a “comeback” to athletics. Having not competed for years I thought I would give it one more go to see how far I’d get.  Following a recommendation from a friend, I started training with Eric Brown at the University of Queensland.

Eric’s track sessions are hard but they pay off.  After three months of training with Eric, I was able to achieve the entry standard to compete at the Australian Athletics Championships (“Nationals”) in the 800m, having not done any athletics for over four years.  

The 800m is a difficult event which requires a combination of speed and endurance.

My training varies, especially between the on and off season, with the sessions getting shorter and sharper as the season commences.  However year-round my four “key” sessions consist of:

  1. 600,500,400,300,200,100 (decreasing recovery starting at 6 mins and reducing by 1 min each rep);
  2. 10 x 400m (1 min recovery);
  3. 6 x 200m (6 mins recovery); and
  4. 4-5 x 1km (3-4 mins recovery).
Leonora Golden Gift

6,5,4,3,2,1 (decreasing recovery)

This is a tough session that keeps appearing on my program aimed at increasing my aerobic power.  In one way it gets easier as you get through the session as the distances are decreasing but the recovery is also decreasing making it increasingly difficult to maintain high sprint speed.

The idea is to run the 600, 500, 400 and 300 at 90% and the 200 and 100 at 100%.

In the lead up to races I generally aim for the following times:

600m 1.39 300m 48s
500m 1.22 200m 28s
400m 65s 100m 13s

10 x 400m (1min recovery)

This is a session that is ideal for building fitness.  At first it can feel like the 400m reps are slow but as you get further into the session it gets harder and harder to maintain pace and running form.

I personally find sessions like this difficult (as I train best off longer recovery and more explosive bursts), but I know this is an essential session to work on the endurance component of the 800m race.

Generally, I aim for 68s per 400m.

6 x 200m (6 mins recovery)

This session is harder than it sounds.  You’d think that the shortest session on the program would be the easiest, but quite the opposite.  This may actually be my hardest workout with each 200m to be run at maximum effort.  The idea behind this session is to work on speed and power as well as increase your lactic acid tolerance/anaerobic threshold.

I do this session almost weekly and aim to run each 200m in 27s.

1km reps (3 mins recovery)

Whilst endurance is not my favourite thing, this is a really important session in my training regime.  It improves overall fitness, race endurance and anaerobic threshold.

During the off or pre-season I would aim to do 4-5 reps with 3 mins recovery.  I completed this session last week and ran 3.23, 3.24, 3.23, 3.23.  However, as the season progresses these will become much faster (and the recovery will increase).

Before Nationals I would be aiming to do 3 x 1km (10 mins recovery) at 3.05 – 3.10.

Leonora Golden Gift

Other components of training

Other key aspects of my training include long runs (for me these are about 12km) and cross training.  I don’t like to overdo it in the gym but following a recent yearlong injury I see the value in strengthening all muscles to prevent injury.  At the moment I like to do a boxing class every week that incorporates explosives power movements and plyometric and aim for 4 core workouts a week.

Looking ahead

This year’s Nationals is also the trials for the Commonwealth Games.  Whilst the qualifying standard of 2.01.00 for the 800m is beyond my current ability, I am hoping to run around 2.06/2.07 with my ultimate goal being to race for Australia one day.


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