Monday, June 2, 2008

3200/1600 or 1600/3200

I grew up in Illinois and have resided here my entire life. Since I started running in high school in 1984, the Illinois format for track meets was/is 3200m. run first, then 1600m. run next. There is usually anywhere from an hour to three hours between the two events, depending on the size of the meet. I never questioned this format until I learned that there are other states that run the 1600m. first, then the 3200m..

My first thoughts of the 1600m. being first were that it must be hard to run the 3200m. after a hard mile and a long day sitting at a track. If you ran the long race first, the short one later in the day would be a piece of cake, it's only half the distance. Then I started thinking about paces. If you run the 3200m. first at 5:00 miles, for example, you are probably capable of running around a 4:40 mile. Going from 5:00 to 4:40 can make the mile feel harder than it actually is. If you run the 1600m. first at 4:40 pace and then run the 3200m. later in the day at 5:00 pace, the two mile will feel easy, at least at the beginning if you go out at pace.

Although I feel that the Illinois way is THE WAY (stubborness here), I now question the order of the events. Which way is the best way? Which way allows for one to double successfully? Does weather have something to do with it (States that cool off later in the day run the 3200m. last, while States that are cooler earlier in the day run the 3200m. first)?

What do you high school runners who have experienced this double think?

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