Workout of the Day

Diriba Degefa of Ethiopia. 

Diriba Degefa of Ethiopia. 

6 x 800m, 8 x 200m  


800m — 2:06.2 2:06.5 / 2:05.1 / 2:04.4 2:04.7 / 2:04.3
200m — 28.1 28.7 / 28.5 / 28.7 27.8 / 27.5 27.3 26.5

Recovery: 400m jog after 800m reps. 200m jog after 200m reps.

Diriba Degefa — Aug. 6th, 2013


Context & Details

This was the final session for Diriba before a long east coast road racing tour. He had one to two races every weekend for over a month lined up in a variety of distances from 1 Mile to 7 Miles. What I enjoy about competitive road racing is the successful athlete must have cross country style strength and track-like quickness. The course itself is an added variable which significantly influences the complexion of a competition. Sharp turns, downhills, uphills, changing wind patterns, etc. are all influencing how the race is ran as much as the competitors in the field. 

Diriba was a respectable road racer. He was resilient. As proof by this workout. 

The design was 800m reps at slightly faster than 3K pace (he was in roughly 8:00 3K shape at the time) and 200m reps "fast and smooth." The recoveries were disciplined, 2:30 - 2:45 between the 800s and 60" - 70" between the 200s.  

One of Diriba's assets was that he had a remarkable ability to keep pressing even when tired. The 3 miles of 800m repeats took their toll, making the 200m reps especially difficult. The idea was to subject him to running "fast and smooth" in a moderately fatigued state, such as he'd be faced with in the closing stages of nearly any road race. Many road races come down to an all-out sprint in the final 30" and this session positioned him to practice executing well in the closing moments. 

As expected, that summer in nearly all the road races Diriba was in the outcome was decided in the final thirty seconds. Fortunately, Diriba won more of those battles than he lost that summer. He knew what was coming and he was confident from several sessions like this one coupled with his years of experience that he could kick with anyone. He thrived under that pressure, welcoming such moments, as he was certain he was prepared to meet the challenge. He was sure he could press. And so he did, time and time again.


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Thx //  jm

Jonathan Marcus