The middle distances are races where the runner tries to go as fast as his training has let him. Sheer determination on the short scale might let you win one middle distance race, but you will probably not be able to run any more for days. Biological factors that go primarily into a middle distance racer are; developed fast and type1 slow twitch muscles, adrenaline (usually for the final kick), anaerobic respiration (bringing it in after the final kick), racing tactics, and aerobic conditioning.

Notice: in the context of these articles, a minimally trained runner can loosely be termed as a person that has trained conistently for over 10 weeks, and is running the race while in condition from this training. Results from people that have not done this do not reflect their potential whatsoever, and should be considered flukes.

Table of contents
1 Common distances (and not so common ones):

Common distances (and not so common ones):

The standard middle distances are the 800, 1500, mile, and the 3000. The 3000 is more common at the high school and collegiate level (along with the two-mile) and is in fact not run at the world championships.


  • This middle distance length is rather uncommon. The record at this distance for men:

Johnny Gray          1:12.81  Santa Monica, USA  24 May 1986

For women:

Ana Fidelia Quirot   1:22.63  Guadalajara, ESP  25 July 1997


  • Twice around the track. One of the two premier middle distance events. The event requires excellent 400m speed as well as excellent aerobic conditioning. Most professional 800m runners will run each 400m of the race as fast as most professional athletes (non-athletics) are capable of. There are two common strategies for this race: go out fast for the first 400 meters, and "bring it in" for the next, or try and stay more or less even paced. The first helps most people win competitions, but there are exceptions. The second a more optimal way to attempt world record times. This is a very tough race on the body. The record at this distance for men:

Wilson Kipketer      1:41.11  Köln              24 August 1997

For women:

Jarmila Kratochvílová1:53.28  München           26 July 1983


  • More popular than the 500m is to the sprints. The record at this distance for men:

Noah Ngeny         2:11.96       Rieti             05 September 1999

For women:

Svetlana Masterkova2:28.98       München           23 August 1996


  • Common distance that is part of the distance_medley_relay


  • The other premier middle distance race. Is becoming more of a prolonged spring nowadays, with each lap averaging 55 seconds for the world record performance by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco in 1998 at Rome (two 1:50s 800m performances back to back). Thus, speed is necessary, and it seems that the more aerobic conditioning, the better. Three and three-quarter laps around the track. Lots of tactics can be employed in this race, too numerous to discuss here. A very tough distance to mentally perform at. This is also known as "The Metric Mile". The record at this distance for men:

Hicham El Guerrouj   3:26.00  Roma              14 July 1998

For women:

Yunxia Qu            3:50.46  Beijing           11 September 1993


This length of track, 1760
yards, (1609 metres), is very common in countries that don't use the metric system, and is still often referred to as the "Blue Riband" of the track

When the International Amateur Athletic Federation decided in 1976 to recognise only world records for metric distances, it made an exception for the mile and records are kept to this day. (There are no world records for the marathon, also run over imperial distance, because the terrain differs race by race).

Historically, the mile took the place that the 1500m has today. It is still raced on the world class level, but only at select locations. It can be romantically appreciated as a remnant of the past but is still fiercely contested and probably will never go away. It is famous for its 4 minute barrier that so many people tried to break. The term "miler" is sometimes also applied to a 1500m runner. The record at this distance for men:

Hicham El Guerrouj   3:43.13  Roma              07 July 1999

For women:

Svetlana Masterkova  4:12.56  Zurich           14 August 1996


  • Another event that is rarely run, it is one where a miler's speed will generally prevail over that of anyone challenging him or her. The record at this distance for men:

Hicham El Guerrouj   4:44.79  Berlin            07 September 1999

For women:

Sonia O'Sullivan     5:25.36  Edinburgh         08 July 1994


  • Truly on the borderline between middle and longer distances. Its a standard race. Requires decent speed, but can be made up with superior aerobic conditioning and race tactics to support that. The record at this distance for men:

Daniel Komen         7:20.67  Rieti             01 September 1996

For women:

Junxia Wang          8:06.11  Beijing           13 September 1993