Workout of the Day

photo:  IAAF

photo: IAAF

3 x (600m, 400m, 300m, 200m) + 1 x 400m


Set #1 — 1:40.1 63.7 / 49.0 32.7
Set #2 — 1:42.2 65.9 47.6 32.2
Set #3 — 1:41.4 63.8 45.3 / 30.8
400m — 58.8

Recovery: 400m jog after each rep

Mary Cain — July 18th, 2013


Context & Details

This might be one of the most memorable workouts I ever witnessed. 

Mary Cain was on fire in 2013. She had made the IAAF World Championships in the 1500m. She was fast, fearless, bold, and seemingly unstoppable, having taken American track & field by storm.

The 600/400/300/200 breakdown workout design has been presented before in previous WOTD entries, but the key here is the fast 400m tag on rep at the very end.

This final quarter wasn't originally in the cards, but Mary wanted it. She told her coach she felt like she had a fast 400m in her and wanted to beak 59 seconds that day. Initially, her coach said no. Mary pleaded. He reconsidered. She got her way. And off she went. 

Mary hit the first 200 in 30 and change. Her coach yelled, "30-mid, pick it up!" She did. Mary flew down the homestretch, with the most determined look I'd ever seen. You could tell she was driven to break 59 seconds despite the soft opening 200m. At the finish line, her coach read the passing seconds on the watch, "Fifty-six, seven, eight, nin..." He stopped as she glided past the finish. 

Typically, her coach was known to have a "fast finger" — meaning his splits aired on the faster side. But this time his reaction was slow. I had the faster recording of 58.7, and he, 58.9. We conferred and agreed to take the average, giving Mary a 58.8. He told her the "official" time, she smiled and jumped for joy as if she'd just set a world record. 

I still remember the look of pure delight on her face. Her love for the support was refreshing and inspiring. At the time, the track was her playground, and every workout/race was a game of "Let's-See-What-I-Can-Do." As it should be seeing as this is the true spirit of the sport. Which, in 2013, we can all thank Mary for reminding us of.


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

Jonathan Marcus