Workout of the Day

McKayla Fricker, pictured winning the Women's 800m at the 2015 Adrian Martinez Classic.

McKayla Fricker, pictured winning the Women's 800m at the 2015 Adrian Martinez Classic.

6 x 150m

Splits: 20.7, 20.3, 19.0, 18.9, 18.8, 18.7

Recovery: 3' - 4' walk/jog as needed

McKayla Fricker — April 28th, 2016


Context & Details

Typically, the current practice among North American middle distance runners is to open their outdoor track campaign in early May at Payton Jordan. Not everyone does, but most do. This makes April a long, intense month of training. For McKayla (2:00/800m best) at this time, she was at the tail end of such a preparation period. 

On her immediate horizon was a 1500m race at Payton Jordan two weeks away. However, ever piercing were the rounds to the final of the 800m at the Olympic Trials that July. The consideration of these two contrasting myopic and panoramic priorities colored the session. Thus, a speed endurance session of quick 150m with short recoveries (relative for critical speed work) was on the day's training menu.

Originally, it was designed to be a pure speed endurance workout at roughly 19.5 seconds (52"/400m), which I equated to roughly ~ 95% max running speed effort.  However, McKayla expressed being somewhat fatigued that day in warm-up (a product of the culmination of focused, honest training). We conferred, called an audible, and redesigned the game to be played on the track that session, tweaking it to a theme of progressive speed endurance. 

She felt enthused to start the 150s at 400m speed (55" - 54" speed), or ~85% max speed effort range, and play a game of increasing her effort as able each rep without concern to the measure of the watch. She simply wanted to "feel faster" on every successive rep. 

And this is a quality of McKayla's which makes her a pro in every spirit of the word. She can decide on an intelligent course of action given the evidence, embrace the challenges associated with that course, and deliver.

By the 3rd rep, she was moving far faster than I originally scheduled that day. She slipped into sprinting (maximum, full effort running), flowing in a picturesque fashion as she ran. I didn't interject. With sprinting, full speed is full speed, there is no point in slowing it down, especially considering she was in "the zone."

In fact, I only kept my attention on her running throughout the entirety of workout. I didn't look at the times recorded on the stopwatch until she completed the session. Without external measures to tint her or my perception of her effort in the moment, we were afforded an inspired day of immersed, focused, deep work. It was a flow state for both athlete and coach concurrently.

Such is a rarity, but savored and still remembered fondly today.


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


Jonathan Marcus