Your 1500m cheat sheet

Katie Mackey (Brooks Beasts) might have just set a huge 5K personal best at Payton Jordan, but she's still a miler at heart. Below is her advice on the 1500m. If you enjoyed this post (because we did), be sure to check her blog and follow her on Twitter for more words of wisdom.

The 1500m has been called “the best event in Track and Field” (by me). Mostly because it’s an exciting combination of speed, endurance and smarts (and I am also a little bit biased).
Do you want to set a PR in the 1500? Well, me too. But unfortunately, if this is not your first 1500, you probably are going to have to learn a few things before you get that PR. Usually you learn by making mistakes. This is known as the hard way, and it is hard. So, why learn your lesson the hard way when you can simply read this blog and learn from my mistakes?!

Years and years of mistakes have taught me these key lessons:
1) It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish (but in the 1500, it really IS about how you start)
Get off that line and establish a good position early! A common mistake here is to cut straight into lane 1, instead of taking the tangent to the curve. (For those who didn’t have a math teacher for a dad growing up, “taking the tangent” is fancy runner lingo for taking the most direct route to that number 1 at the 200m mark.)
2) You have elbows…use them!
The inside of lane 1 is appealing, being the shortest distance to the finish and all. And who wants to run the 1510m-1517m while everyone else is running the 1500m.  But in lane 1 you also run the risk of getting stuck with a slow person in front of you and a person equally as slow beside you (for purposes of this blog we will assume all hypothetical competitors are slower than you, and thus, in your way). Ideally, you want to be as close to the inside of lane 1 as possible while maintaining the ability to pass. This usually means being a little bit towards the outside of lane 1 and sometime the inside of lane 2 so you can keep that position right behind the leaders. Elbows help you keep that perfect position.
3) Don’t use up your “mushrooms” too quickly!
Imagine that you are in Mario Kart and you have mushrooms that give you a temporary burst of speed- but you only have a few to use. Save some for your last 100m when you REALLY need it. Making a whole bunch of quick, short, aggressive moves will come back to bite you (probably literally in the butt when you get booty lock). When you need to move up or pass just do so gradually and over 100m, preferably not on the curve.
4) Indian running is not an effective way to PR!
Imagine that you are running in a line and the leader starts to sprint, then the next person and the next person. When it finally comes your chance to react to the person in front of you the leader already got a couple seconds headstart! Pay attention to the lead pack and respond to them. Stay engaged.

5) Be smarter than everyone else!
When the big  “1” on the lap counter comes into sight with 500m to go, everyone is vying for position going into the last 400m (this is especially true in slow and tactical races). But since you are smart from reading this blog, you know this is going to happen. You can anticipate it on the backstretch when you hit 600m to go and make a gradual move up towards the leaders then!

6) It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish (oh and by the way, the finish is really important too)
Ah, the final lap. The finish is so close that you can taste it! But don’t react too quickly, otherwise you might run out of gas in that last 150m. Maybe you know what this feels like? Hitting a cement wall. If the pace has been slow, you might be able to get away with starting to press the pace around 400m, but generally winding up around 300m-200m is safe. Learn what works for you. Use the final turn to slingshot out around other competitors and wait for the final 50-60 meters to kick it into an 100% all out sprint (using your golden Mario mushroom). 

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