Workout of the Day

McKayla Fricker competes in the Women's National 800m race at the 2016 Pre Classic where she ran 2:01.53. Photo:   Howard Lao

McKayla Fricker competes in the Women's National 800m race at the 2016 Pre Classic where she ran 2:01.53. Photo: Howard Lao

6 x 200m

Splits: 28.38 / 29.11 / 28.94 / 28.90 / 27.17 / 26.42

Recovery: Full. Roughly 3' - 4' as desired

McKayla Fricker — March 7th, 2016


Context & Details 

This is a workout I inherited along with McKayla when we started working together. It is her go-to session before any meaningful 800m race. She has been performing it since she was a freshman in high school. It is familiar. Prudent. Useful. And helps McKayla get race ready. Within HPW ranks it is called, "The McKayla Special." 

Over the years I've learned to respect the need for "feel-good" workouts in an athlete's program. Not every session needs to be a brutal load of intensity and/or volume that tests the athlete's mettle. And for the 800m athlete, 6 x 200m is a classic feel-good session. 

McKayla runs this without a watch nor me calling splits. I time the reps solely for record keeping proposes and am more intent on observing her movement quality than the numbers on the stopwatch. She runs the first two at "medium" speed, the second two "faster," and the final two  "good and quick." We keep it rather vague so she can just run. This is the KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) principle in action.

Since she has had over ten years of experience with this workout as her final session prior to important races, it has become a diagnostic tool more than anything else. While running, she is scanning her body to see if anything feels "off" or if all systems are a "go."

This particular edition came right before the 2016 USATF Indoor Championships, when it was held in Portland, Ore. as a precursor to the World Indoor Championships. McKayla placed 4th in the final of the 800m, missing out on a world team spot. But she competed gamely, giving it an honest shot to win. It just wasn't her day. 

Sometimes you do your best and you finish fourth. I call it the Prefontaine Finish, for Pre's famous all guts racing in the 1972 Olympic 5,000m final where he went for the gold but faded to 4th in the final steps. No shame racing like that. Never.

On this day, this session indicated to me her she'd be in the mix at those upcoming US Indoor Champs. 

Why did I think that?

Well, we play a guessing game on these days to have some fun. I'll start and stop the watch as she runs each rep. I won't look at the time. And when she comes over between reps to check in, we both guess what time she ran for that 200 and then look.

On the 6th rep, she said it felt like 28.5 as she wasn't pressing at all, just flowing and skipping along. I guessed 27.0, she was clearly moving faster than 28.5. 

We both looked at the watch for the first time together: 26.42. 

Yup. She was ready.


Any questions? I'm happy to answer. You can send me a Direct Message on Twitter or email me at
Thx //  jm

Jonathan Marcus